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Indo-Persian Royal and Noble Ranks
Turban helmet Met 04.3.211
Emperor : Caliph, Padishah
King : Sultan, Shah
Royal Prince : Shahzada, Mirza
Noble Prince : Mirza, Sahibzada
Nobleman: Nawab, Baig
Sarayi Album 10a

Sultan Mehmed II is considered one of the most famous Ottoman Sultans.

Sultan (Arabic language: سلطانSulṭān, pronounced [ˈsulˈtˤɑːn]) is a noble title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership" and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة sulṭah, meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who claimed almost full sovereignty in practical terms (i.e., the lack of dependence on any higher ruler), without claiming the overall caliphate, or to refer to a powerful governor of a province within the caliphate. The dynasty and lands ruled by a sultan are referred to as a sultanate (Arabic language: سلطنة‎).

A feminine form, used by Westerners, is sultana or sultanah; though the very styling misconstrues the roles of wives of sultans. In a similar usage, the wife of a German Field-Marshal might be styled Feldmarschallin (in French, similar constructions of the type madame la maréchale are quite common). The rare female leaders in Muslim history are correctly known as "sultanas". However, in the Sultanate of Sulu, the wife of the sultan is styled as the "panguian".

Among those modern hereditary rulers who wish to emphasize their secular authority under the rule of law, the term is gradually being replaced by king (i.e., malik in Arabic).

Compound ruler titlesEdit

Ralamb-2

Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV attended by a eunuch and two pages.

These are generally secondary titles, either lofty 'poetry' or with a message; e.g.:

  • Mani Sultan = Manney Sultan (meaning 'the Pearl of Rulers' or "Honoured Monarch") - a subsidiary title, part of the full style of the Maharaja of Travancore
  • Sultan of Sultans is the sultanic equivalent of King of Kings
  • Certain secondary titles have a devout Islamic connotation; e.g., Sultan ul-Mujahidin as champion of jihad (To strive and to struggle in the name of Allah)
  • Sultanic Highness - a rare, hybrid western-Islamic honorific style exclusively used by the son, daughter-in-law and daughters of Sultan Hussein Kamel of Egypt (a British protectorate since 1914), who bore it with their primary titles of Prince (Arabic language: Amir‎; Turkish language: Prens) or Princess, after 11 October 1917. They enjoyed these titles for life, even after the Royal Rescript regulating the styles and titles of the Royal House following Egypt's independence in 1922, when the sons and daughters of the newly styled King (Arabic language: Malik Misr, considered a promotion‎) were granted the title Sahib(at) us-Sumuw al-Malaki, or Royal Highness.

Former sultans and sultanatesEdit

Saladin2

Artistic representation of Saladin, the first Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt and Syria.

Mid East and Central AsiaEdit

Arab WorldEdit

Qabus bin Said

H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, the current Sultan of Oman from the Al Said dynasty.

Audhali, Fadhli, Haushabi, Kathiri, Lahej, Lower Aulaqi, Lower Yafa, Mahra, Qu'aiti, Subeihi, Upper Aulaqi, Upper Yafa and the Wahidi sultanates
  • in present-day Saudi Arabia :
  • Oman – Sultan of Oman (authentically referred to as Hami), on the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula, still an independent sultanate, since 1744 (assumed the formal title of Sultan in 1861)
  • Sultanate of Zanzibar two incumbents (from the Omani dynasty) since the de facto separation from Oman in 1806, the last assumed the title Sultan in 1861 at the formal separation under British auspices; since 1964 union with Tanganyika (part of Tanzania)
  • in Morocco, till Mohammed V changed the style to Malik (king) on 14 August 1957, maintaining the subsidiary style Amir al-Mu´minin (Commander of the Faithful)
  • in Sudan:
  • in Chad:

Horn of AfricaEdit

Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire 2

Mohamoud Ali Shire, the 26th Sultan of the Somali Warsangali Sultanate

East Africa and Indian OceanEdit

  • Angoche Sultanate, on the Mozambiquan coast (also several neighbouring sheikdoms)
  • various Sultans on the Comoros; however on the Comoros, the normally used styles were alternative native titles, including Mfalme, Phany or Jambé and the 'hegemonic' title Sultani tibe
  • the Maore (or Mawuti) sultanate on Mayotte (separated from the Comoros)

MalikiEdit

This was the alternative native style (apparently derived from malik, the Arabic word for king) of the Sultans of the Kilwa Sultanate, in Tanganyika (presently the continental part of Tanzania).

Swahili sultanEdit

Mfalume is the (Ki)Swahili title of various native Muslim rulers, generally rendered in Arabic and in western languages as Sultan:

  • in Kenya:
  • in Tanganyika (presently part of Tanzania): of Hadimu, on the island of that name; also styled Jembe

SultaniEdit

This was the native ruler's title in the Tanzanian state of Uhehe a female sultan

West and Central AfricaEdit

  • In Cameroon:
    • Bamoun (Bamun, 17th century, founded uniting 17 chieftaincies) 1918 becomes a Sultanate, but in 1923 re-divided into the 17 original chieftaincies.
    • Bibemi 1770 founded- Rulers first style Lamido to ...., then Sultan
    • Mandara Sultanate since 1715 (replacing Wandala kingdom); 1902 Part of Cameroon
    • Rey Bouba Sultanate founded 1804
  • in the Central African Republic:
    • Bangassou created c.1878; 14 June 1890 under Congo Free State protectorate, 1894 under French protectorate; 1917 Sultanate suppressed by the French.
    • Dar al-Kuti - French protectorate since December 12, 1897
    • Rafai c.1875 Sultanate, 8 April 1892 under Congo Free State protectorate, March 31, 1909 under French protectorate; 1939 Sultanate suppressed
    • Zemio c.1872 established; December 11, 1894 under Congo Free State protectorate, April 12, 1909 under French protectorate; 1923 Sultanate suppressed
  • in Niger: Arabic alternative title of the following autochthonous rulers:
  • in Nigeria most monarchies previously had native titles but when most in the north converted to Islam, Muslim titles were generally adopted such as Emir; Sultan has also been used.

Southern AsiaEdit

Scan0001 (4)

Sultan Ali Khan Bahadur, grandson of Nawab H.H Noor ul Umrah and son of Nawab Shujaath Ali Khan

In India:

In the Maldives:

  • Maldives Sultanate

Southeast and East AsiaEdit

Hamengkubuwono x

Hamengkubuwono X, the incumbent Sultan of Yogyakarta

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Pakoe Boewono XII de Susuhunan van Solo in de kraton TMnr 60052129

Pakubuwono XII, last undisputed Susuhunan of Surakarta

Saifuddin of Tidore

Sultan Saifuddin of Tidore

In Indonesia (formerly in the Dutch East Indies):

In the Peninsular Malaysia:

In Brunei:

In China:

In the Philippines:

In Thailand (Siam):

Contemporary sovereign sultanatesEdit

in some parts of the middle east and north Africa. there are still regional sultans or people who are descendants and maintain the title of sultan.

Princely and aristocratic titlesEdit

Nicolas de Nicolay- La grande dame turcque

The Valide Sultan or "Mother Sultan"

In the Ottoman dynastic system, male descendants of the ruling Padishah (in the West also known as Great Sultan) enjoyed a style including Sultan. This normally monarchic title is thus equivalent in use to the western Prince of the blood: Daulatlu Najabatlu Shahzada Sultan (given name) Efendi Hazretleri. For the Heir Apparent, however, the style was Daulatlu Najabatlu Vali Ahad-i-Sultanat (given name) Efendi Hazretleri; i.e. Crown Prince of the Sultanate.

  • The sons of Imperial Princesses, excluded from the Ottoman imperial succession, were only styled Sultan zada (given name) Bey-Efendi, i.e. Son of a Prince[ss] of the dynasty.

In certain Muslim states, Sultan was also an aristocratic title, as in the Tartar Astrakhan Khanate.

The Valide Sultan was the title reserved for the mother of the ruling sultan. In Ottoman Empire, the Haseki Sultan was the title reserved for the mother of the princes.

Military rankEdit

In a number of post-caliphal states under Mongol or Turkic rule, there was a feudal type of military hierarchy. These administrations were often decimal (mainly in larger empires), using originally princely titles such as Khan, Malik, Amir as mere rank denominations.

In the Persian empire, the rank of Sultan was roughly equivalent to that of a western Captain; socially in the fifth rank class, styled 'Ali Jah.

See alsoEdit

Other ruling titles

ReferencesEdit

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