Amir, meaning "lord" or "commander-in-chief", is derived from the Arabicroota-m-r, "command". Originally simply meaning "commander-in-chief" or "leader", usually in reference to a group of people, it came to be used as a title for governors or rulers, usually in smaller states, and in modern Arabic is analogous to the English word "prince". The word entered English in 1593, from the Frenchémir. It was one of the titles or names of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The caliphs first used the title Amir al-Muminin or "Commander of the Faithful", stressing their leadership over the Islamic empire, especially over the militia. The title has been assumed by various other Muslim rulers, including sultans and emirs. For Shia Muslims, they still give this title to the Caliph Ali as Amir al-Muminin.
The Abbasid (in theory still universal) Caliph Ar-Radi created the post of Amir al-Umara ("Amir of the Amirs") for Ibn Raik; the title was used in various Islamic monarchies; see below for military use
Formerly in Lebanon, the ruling emir formally used the style al-Amir al-Hakim, specifying it was still the ruler's title. Note that the title was held by Druze and Christians as well.
The word emir is also used less formally for leaders in certain contexts. For example, the leader of a group of pilgrims to Mecca is called an emir hadji, a title sometimes used by ruling princes (as a mark of Muslim piety) which is sometimes awarded in their name. Where an adjectival form is necessary, "emiral" suffices.
Amirzade, the son (hence the Persian patronymic suffix -zade) of a prince, hence the Persian princely title mirza.
The temporal leader of the Yazidi people is known as an emir or prince.
Amīr al-Baḥr (أمير البحر, "commander of the sea") is considered to be the etymological origin of the English admiral, the French amiral and similar terms in other European languages.
Military ranks and titles
From the start, emir has been a military title.
In certain decimally-organized Muslim armies, Amir was an officer rank. For example, in Mughal India Amirs commanded 1000 horsemen (divided into ten units, each under a sipah salar), ten of them under one malik. In the imperial army of Qajar Persia:
Amir is a masculine name in the Persian language and a prefix name for many masculine names such as Amir Ali, Amir Goul.
Amir-i-Iel designates the head of an Il (tribe) in imperial Persia.
The masculine Amir and feminine Amira are Arabic-language names common among both Arabs regardless of religion and Muslims regardless of ethnicity, much as Latin Rex and Regina ("king" and "queen," respectively) are common in the Western world. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the female name Emira, often interpreted as "princess", is a derivative of the male name Emir.
^The West: A Narrative History, Volume Two (2 ed.). CTI Reviews. 2016. p. 661. ISBN 9781478439394. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Emir ('commander' or 'general', also 'King'; also transliterated as amir, aamir or ameer) is a high title of nobility or office, used throughout the Muslim world. Emirs are usually considered high-ranking sheikhs, but in monarchical states the term is also used for princes, and princesses with 'Emirate' being analogous to principality in this sense.
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