AskDefine | Define sultanate

Dictionary Definition

sultanate n : country or territory ruled by a sultan

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A sovereign or vassal princely state - usually Muslim - ruled by a sultan.
    I'm going to Brunei to study politics in a sultanate.


Extensive Definition

Sultan () is an Islamic title, with several historical meanings. Originally it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", or "rulership", derived from the Arabic masdar سلطة sulṭah, meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain Muslim 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 it was used to refer to a powerful governor of a province within the caliphate. It then developed some further meanings in certain contexts.
Audhali, Fadhli, Haushabi, Kathiri, Lahej, Lower Aulaqi, Lower Yafa, Mahra, Qu'aiti, Subeihi, Upper Aulaqi, Upper Yafa and the Wahidi sultanates


This was the authentic style, commonly rendered as sultan, of the Islamic monarchs of the ruling house of Oman, in both its realms:
  • OmanSultan of Oman, on the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula, still an independent sultanate, since 1784, two years before the imamate lost temporal power in 1786 (assumed the formal style 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 style Sultan in 1861 at the formal separation under British auspices; since 1964 union with Tanganyika part of Tanzania)

North Africa

Horn of Africa

East Africa & Indian Ocean



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 sultan

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


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

West & Central Africa

  • in Cameroon:
    • Bamoun (Bamun, 17th cent. founded uniting 17 chieftancies) 1918 becomes a Sultanate, but in 1923 re-divided into the 17 original chieftancies.
    • 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 ca.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 ca.1875 Sultanate, 8 April 8, 1892 under Congo Free State protectorate, March 31 1909 under French protectorate; 1939 Sultanate suppressed
    • Zemio ca.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 has a native title; when most in the north converted to Islam, Muslim titles were generally adopted, such as Emir- Sultan has been used in

Southeast & East Asia

In Brunei:
In China: Furthermore, the Qa´id Jami al-Muslimin (Leader of the Community of Muslims) of Pingnan Guo ("Pacified South State", a major Islamic rebellious polity in western Yunnan province) is usually referred to in foreign sources as Sultan
  • on the Riau archipelago: sultanate of Lingga-Riau by secession in 1818 under the expelled sultan of Johore (on Malaya) Sultan Abdul Rahman Muadzam Syah ibni al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud
In Malaysia, 9 states out of 13 states are sultanates, all on the Malay peninsula:
In the Philippines:

Contemporary sultanates

Princely and aristocratic titles

In the Ottoman dynastic system, male descendants of the ruling Padishah (in the West also known as Great Sultan), enjoyed a style including Sultan, so this normally Monarchic title is used equivalent to a western prince of the blood: Daulatlu Najabatlu Shahzada Sultan (given name) Hazretleri Effendi; for the Heir Apparent however, the style was Daulatlu Najabatlu Vali Ahad-i-Sultanat (given name) Effendi Hazlatlari, i.e. Crown Prince of the sultanate.
  • The sons of Imperial Princesses, excluded from the Ottoman imperial succession, were only styled Sultanzada (given name) Bey-Effendi, 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 Sultan Valide'' was the title reserved for the mother of the ruling sultan.

Military rank

In a number of post-caliphal states under Mongol or Turkic rule, there was a feudal type of military hierarchy, often decimal (mainly in larger empires), using originally princely titles (Khan, Malik, Amir) as mere rank denominations.
In the Persian empire, the rank of Sultan was roughly equivalent to a western Captain, socially in the fifth rank class, styled 'Ali Jah

Use in Western Popular Culture

The term Sultan is also used in modern pop vernacular to describe someone who has reached the peak of their profession, the elite of their class.

See also

Other Islamic titles Further
sultanate in Arabic: سلطان
sultanate in Breton: Sultan
sultanate in Bulgarian: Султан
sultanate in Catalan: Soldà
sultanate in Czech: Sultán
sultanate in Danish: Sultan
sultanate in German: Sultan
sultanate in Estonian: Sultan
sultanate in Modern Greek (1453-): Σουλτάνος
sultanate in Spanish: Sultán
sultanate in Esperanto: Sultano
sultanate in Persian: سلطان
sultanate in French: Sultan
sultanate in Galician: Sultán
sultanate in Korean: 술탄
sultanate in Croatian: Sultan
sultanate in Indonesian: Sultan
sultanate in Italian: Sultano
sultanate in Hebrew: סולטן
sultanate in Hungarian: Szultán
sultanate in Latin: Sultanus
sultanate in Macedonian: Султан
sultanate in Malay (macrolanguage): Sultan
sultanate in Dutch: Sultan
sultanate in Japanese: スルターン
sultanate in Norwegian: Sultan
sultanate in Polish: Sułtan
sultanate in Portuguese: Sultão
sultanate in Russian: Султан
sultanate in Albanian: Sulltani
sultanate in Simple English: Sultan
sultanate in Slovak: Sultán
sultanate in Slovenian: Sultan
sultanate in Serbian: Султан
sultanate in Finnish: Sulttaani
sultanate in Swedish: Sultan
sultanate in Turkish: Sultan
sultanate in Ukrainian: Султан
sultanate in Urdu: سلطان
sultanate in Chinese: 苏丹 (称谓)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1