Emir (also sometimes rendered as Amir or Ameer, Arabic commander) is a title of nobility historically used in Islamic nations of the Middle East and North Africa. Originally it was a title of honor given to descendants of Muhammad via his daughter Fatima Zahra. Centuries after the time of Muhammad it became used in a wider range of contexts, such as the title used by chieftains of Bedouins of Arabia and by nobles and officials of the Ottoman Empire.
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.
The Caliphs used the title emir ul-mu'mineen, "Commander of the Faithful". The Western naval rank admiral comes from the Arabic expression amir al-bahr, "sea commander."
Emir is also the term used by the Kuwaiti al-Sabah dynasty to refer to their ruling monarch since their independence on June 19, 1961. Qatar likewise uses this title since 1971, and Bahrain did so from 1971 to 2002.
In Arabic, another meaning of the word "emir" is prince, specifically, the male descendant of a sovereign. It also could mean the word "crown prince". For example, before being crowned as King Abdullah of Jordan, the son of King Hussein was referred to as "Emir Abdullah". In this sense the country ruled by an emir is an emirate, as in the United Arab Emirates.
Emir is also a common Muslim male name in Bosnia, taken from Arabic. One famous person has the name Emir: Emir Kusturica.
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46