Amir al-Mu'minin

Amir al-Mu'minin (Arabic: أَمِير ٱلْمُؤْمِنِين, ‘’ʾAmīr al-Muʾminīn) is an Arabic title that is usually translated "Commander of the Faithful" or "Leader of the Faithful". Shias believe that the title is exclusive to Ali ibn Abi Talib, as opposed to others,[1] while Sunnis believe that title can be applied to others, including other caliphs and scholars.

The use of the title does not necessarily signify a claim to caliphate as it is usually taken to be, but described a certain form of activist leadership which may have been attached to a caliph but also could signify a level of authority beneath that. The Ottoman sultans, in particular, made scant use of it. Moreover, the term was used by men who made no claim to be caliphs.[2]


Amir al-Mu'minin is latinized as Miramolinus, hence Italian Miramolino, French Miramolin, Spanish Miramolín and Portuguese Miramolim, in Byzantine Greek: ἀμερμουμνῆς amermoumnês.

It is also translated as "Prince of the believers" since "Amir" or "Emir" is also used as a princely title in states ruled by the royalty or monarchies.

Shia view

Shias view that Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad and the progenitor of his only continuing lineage, was given the title during Muhammad's era. [3][4]

Shias believe the title is exclusive to Ali.[5]:276[6]:600 Being called the commander of the faithful does not entail only political authority, but spiritual and religious authority as well.

Sunni view

Sunnis generally consider Umar the first person given the title, although according to several famous Sunni scholars such as Ibn al-Jawzi, Al-Dhahabi, Ibn 'Asakir, etc. the Prophet (Muhammad) called Ali as Amir al-Muminin.[7][8][9]

But about the first view, according to the Islamic scholar as-Suyuti (1445–1505):

Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz asked Abu Bakr ibn Sulayman ibn Abi Hathamah the reason that it used to be written, "From the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace," in the time of Abu Bakr, then later Umar used to write at first, "From the Khalifah of Abu Bakr."? Then who was the first to write, "From the Amir al-Muminin (the Commander of the Believers)"?

He said, "Ash-Shifa, who was one of the women of the Muhajirun, told me that Abu Bakr used to write, "From the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah", and Umar used to write, "From the Khalifah of the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah," until one day Umar wrote to the governor of Iraq, to send him two strong men whom he could ask about Iraq and its inhabitants. He sent to him Labid ibn Rabi'ah and Adi ibn Hatim, and they came to Madinah and entered the mosque where they found Amr ibn al-'As.

They said, "Get permission for us (to visit) the Amir al-Muminin." Amr said, "You two, by Allah, have hit upon his name!" Then Amr went in to him and said, "Peace be upon you, Amir al-Mu'minin." He said, "What occurred to you about this name? You must explain what you have said." He told him and said, "You are the amir (commander) and we are the muminun (the believers)." Thus letters have continued to be written with that from that day.

An-Nawawi said in his Tahdhib: Adi ibn Hatim and Labid ibn Rabi'ah named him thus when they came as a deputation from 'Iraq. It has been said that al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah named him with this name. It has also been said that 'Umar said to people, 'You are the believers and I am your amir,' and so he was called Amir al-Muminin, and before that he was known as the Khalifah of the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah, but they changed from that expression because of its length.

Mu'awiyyah ibn Qurrah said: It used to be written 'From Abu Bakr the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah,' and then when it was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab they wanted to say, 'The Khalifah of the Khalifah of the Messenger of Allah.' 'Umar said, 'This is lengthy.' They said, 'No. But we have appointed you as amir over us, so you are our amir.' He said, 'Yes, and you are the believers, and I am your amir.' Then it became written Amir al-Muminin.[10]

Current usage

Past usage

Non-Muslim usage

The Kitáb-i-Íqán, the primary theological work of the Bahá'í Faith, applies the title Commander of the Faithful to Ali, the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[20]

A similar (but not the same) title was afforded to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's monarch as the Grand Duke of Lithuania by the Lipka Tatars, who used to speak a Turkic language. The title of sire was used "Vatad", as in "homeland" ("Vatan"), which meant "defender of the rights of Muslims in non-Islamic countries". The Grand Duchy was viewed as a new homeland. Vatad was viewed as variation on the name Vytautas in Lithuanian or Władysław in Polish, which was known in the diplomatic notes between the Golden Horde and the countries of Poland (Lechistan) and Lithuania (Lipka) as "Dawood". One can claim that, since Casimir the Great, the Polish-Lithuanian monarch as the King of Poland was tasked with the protection of the rights of the Jews and other non-Christians.

In fiction

In Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, leaders of the fictional Republic of Gilead, a militaristic theonomy, are referred to as "Commanders of the Faithful."

See also


  1. "Imam Ali – Commander of The Faithful". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  2. Pennell, Richard (11 March 2016). "What is the significance of the title 'Amīr al-mu'minīn?'". The Journal of North African Studies. 21 (4): 623–644. doi:10.1080/13629387.2016.1157482.
  3. Majlesi, Bahar al-Anwar, Vol. 37, P. 339, hadith 81
  4. Shia Encyclopedia, Vol. 2
  5. Muhammad Ibn Masoud Ayyashi. Tasfir Al Ayashi. 1. this is a title only suitable for Imam Ali
  6. Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili. Wasā'il al-Shīʿa. 14. this is a title only suitable for Imam Ali
  7. Ibn al-Jawzi, Al-Mozooat, Vol. 1, PP. 376-377
  8. Ibn 'Asakir , The history of Medina Damascus, Vol. 42, P. 386
  9. Al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-E’tedaal,Vol.1 P. 64
  10. History of the Caliphs by Suyuti
  11. Valentine, Simon, Ross. Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jamaʻat: History, Belief, Practice. Columbia University Press. p. 208.
  12. Shah Muhammad Waseem (2003): هندوستان ميں فارسى تاريخ نگارى: ٧١ويں صدى كے آخرى نصف سے ٨١ويں صدى كے پهلے نصف تک فارسى تاريخ نگارى كا ارتقاء, Kanishka Publishing, original source from the University of Michigan ISBN 9788173915376
  13. Sobolev, Leonid Nikolaevich (1876). Latest History of the Khanates of Bokhara and Kokand. Foreign Department Press.
  14. Esposito, John L. (2003). "Abd al-Qadir". The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 1.
  15. Shahrani, M. Nazif (1986). "State Building and Social Fragmentation in Afghanistan: A Historical Perspective". In Banuazizi, Ali; Weiner, Myron (eds.). The State, Religion, and Ethnic Politics: Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Syracuse University Press. p. 35.
  16. Roggio, Bill; Joscelyn, Thomas. "The Taliban's new leadership is allied with al Qaeda". The Long War Journal.
  17. "Statement by the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate regarding the martyrdom of Amir ul Mumineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and the election of the new leader". Voice of Jihad. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  18. Kohlmann, Evan (15 October 2006). "Controversy Grows Over Supposed Unity of Iraqi Mujahideen as Al-Qaida Announces Founding of Sunni Islamic State". Counterterrorism Blog. Archived from the original on 13 October 2009.
  19. Bunzel, Cole (March 2015). "From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State" (PDF). The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. Washington, D.C.: Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution (Analysis Paper No. 19).
  20. "The Kitáb-i-Íqán PART ONE". BAHA'I REFERENCE LIBRARY. Retrieved 2014-09-11.
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