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The court of the Afghan Durrani Empire in 1839.
HRH Crown Prince Farouk, Amir of the Kingdom of Egypt and the Sudan, on ascension to the throne 1936 as HM King Farouk I.

Emir (pronounced [eˈmiːr], Arabic: أميرʾAmīr (Feminine: Emira, أميرة ʾAmīrah), meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world. Emirs are usually considered high-ranking Sheikhs, but in monarchic states, the term is also used for Princes, with "Emirate" being analogous to a sovereign principality.

While Emir is a common transliteration in English and other languages, the form Amir is found for numerous compounds (e.g., admiral) and names. Transliteration differs depending on the sources consulted.


Amir, meaning "chieftain" or "commander", is derived from the Arabic root '-m-r, "command". It may also be related to the Hebrew word hemir, "exalt".[1] Originally simply meaning commander 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 French émir.[2] It was one of the titles or names of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is possibly derived from the Syriac Mar or Mora, a title of respect, literally meaning 'my lord'.

Princely, ministerial and noble titles[edit]

Mohammed Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara, taken in 1911 by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky.

Military ranks and titles[edit]

From the start, Emir has been a military title, roughly meaning "general" or "commander."

The Western naval rank "admiral" comes from the Arabic naval title amir al-bahr, general at sea, which has been used for naval commanders and occasionally the Ministers of Marine.

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:

In the former Kingdom of Afghanistan, Amir-i-Kabir was a title meaning "great prince" or "great commander."

Muhammad Amin Bughra, Nur Ahmad Jan Bughra, and Abdullah Bughra declared themselves Emirs of the First East Turkestan Republic.

Other uses[edit]

Emirs in fiction[edit]

See also[edit]

Specific emirates of note[edit]

Islamic titles[edit]


  1. ^ Nachmanides, Commentary to Torah, Deuteronomy, 21:14
  2. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=amir&searchmode=none EtymologyOnLine