Vizier - Wikipedia
For the astronomical catalogue service, see VizieR. For the Vizier of ancient Egypt, see Vizier (Ancient Egypt).
Not to be confused with visor.
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A vizier (or wazir) (/
/, rarely /
/;[1]Arabic: وزير‎‎ wazīr, Persian: وزیر‎‎ vazīr) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in the Muslim world.[2] The Abbasid caliphs gave the title wazir to a minister formerly called katib (secretary), who was at first merely a helper but afterwards became the representative and successor of the dapir (official scribe or secretary) of the Sassanian kings.[3]
Seal of the OttomanGrand Vizier
In modern usage, the term has been used for government ministers in much of the Middle East and beyond.
Several alternative spellings are used in English, such as vizir, wazir, and vezir.
The word entered into English in 1562 from the Turkish vezir ("counselor"), derived from the Arabic وزيرwazīr[2] ("viceroy"). Wazir itself has two possible etymologies:
Historical ministerial titles
The winter Diwan of a Mughal Vizier.
The office of vizier arose under the first Abbasid caliphs,[6] and spread across the Muslim world.
The vizier stood between sovereign and subjects, representing the former in all matters touching the latter.[10] The 11th-century legal theorist al-Mawardi defined two types of viziers: wazīr al-tanfīdh ("vizier of execution"), who had limited powers and served to implement the caliph's policies, and the far more powerful wazīr al-tafwīd ("vizier with delegated powers"), with authority over civil and military affairs, and enjoyed the same powers as the caliph, except in the matter of the succession or the appointment of officials.[11] Al-Mawardi stressed that the latter, as an effective viceroy, had to be a Muslim well versed in the Shari'a, whereas the former could also be a non-Muslim or even a slave, although women continued to be expressly barred from the office.[12]
Historically, the term has been used to describe two very different ways: either for a unique position, the prime minister at the head of the monarch's government (the term Grand Vizier always refers to such a post), or as a shared 'cabinet rank', rather like a British secretary of state. If one such vizier is the prime minister, he may hold the title of Grand Vizier or another title.
In Islamic states
See also: Grand Vizier
An Iranian Afsharid Vizier.
a Vazir of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (Shah of Persia)
Modern post-monarchy use
Wazīr is the standard Arabic word for a government minister. Prime ministers are usually termed as Ra'īs al-Wuzara (literally, president of the ministers) or al-Wazīr al-'Awwal (prime "first" minister). The latter term is generally found in the Maghreb, while the former is typical of usage in the Mashriq (broadly defined, including Egypt, Sudan, Levant, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula). Thus, for example, the Prime Minister of Egypt is in Arabic a wazīr.
In Brunei the vizier is known as Pengiran Bendahara.
In Iran the ministers of government are called Vazīr in Persian (e.g. foreign/health Vazīr), and prime minister of state before the removal of the post, was called as Nokhost Vazīr.
In Pakistan, the prime minister (de facto ruling politician, formally under the president) is called Vazīr-e Azam (Persian for Grand vizier), other Ministers are styled vazirs.
In India, Vazīr is the official translation of minister in the Urdu language, and is used in ministerial oath taking ceremonies conducted in Urdu.
In East AfricaKenya and Tanzania, ministers are referred to as Waziri in Swahili and prime ministers as Waziri Mkuu.
In the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan is sometimes given the honorific title of Wazir
In Brunei, Viziers are divided into 5 titles, although two remain vacant since Brunei independence.
Anachronistic historical use
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It is common, even among historians, to apply relatively contemporary terms to cultures whose own authentic titles are (or were when the habit took root) insufficiently known, in this case to pre-Islamic antiquity.[original research?]
In ancient Egypt the highest-ranking government official, appointed by the pharaoh and acting as his chancellor (chief administrator; Egyptian: taty), is called vizier by modern researchers. The term is also used for the chief administrators of Upper and Lower Egypt during the times when the administration of the country was headed by two officials, thus there was a vizier for the North (Lower Egypt, the Nile Delta), and a vizier for the South (Upper Egypt). However at times the viceroy of Nubia (a military governor general, sometimes a prince of the Pharaoh's blood) and/or the High Priest of Amun (the temple complex at Thebes gradually amassed sufficient possessions and income to rival the crown) rose to equal or even superior power; some pharaohs are even believed to have lost real political preeminence to the 'kingmakers'.
Thus in modern language-translations of the Bible, in Genesis chapter 41, Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, is called Vizier to Pharaoh. In this same chapter of Genesis, Pharaoh changed his newly appointed Vizier's name to Zaphenath-paneah.
The term is used to designate the highest official of the kingdom of Ebla (head of the administration; Eblaite: lugal sa-za).
Princely title
In the rare case of the Indian princely state of Jafarabad (Jafrabad, founded c. 1650), ruled by Thanadars, in 1702 a state called Janjira was founded, with rulers (six incumbents) styled wazir; when, in 1762, Jafarabad and Janjira states entered into personal union, both titles were maintained until (after 1825) the higher style of Nawab was assumed.
In contemporary literature and pantomime, the "Grand Vizier" is a character stereotype and is usually portrayed as a scheming backroom plotter and the clear power behind the throne of a usually bumbling or incompetent monarch. A well-known example of this is the sinister character of Jafar in the Disney animated film Aladdin, who plots and uses magic to take over the entire Kingdom of Agrabah under the nose of the nation's naïve sultan, just as Jaffar in the 1940 movie The Thief of Bagdad dethroned his master, caliph Ahmad. Others include Zigzag from The Thief and the Cobbler (the original inspiration for the character of Jafar in Disney's Aladdin), the comic book character Iznogoud, Prince Sinbad's advisor Yusuf in the DC Vertigo series Fables, and the villains of the video games Prince of Persia and King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.
Perhaps the origin of this character archetype is the biblical account of Esther. The book details the rise of a Jewish woman to Queen of Persia, and her role in stopping the plot of Haman, chief advisor to the Persian king, to wipe out all Jews living in Persia.
Throughout history the notion of the sinister Grand Vizier has often been invoked when a political leader appears to be developing a cozy relationship with a spiritual advisor of questionable scruples or talents. This stereotype is frequently mentioned in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, as for example in both Sourcery and Interesting Times. Another instance of a sinister Grand Vizier in entertainment can be found in the science fiction series Lexx, the primary antagonist in the second season being Mantrid, the self-proclaimed "greatest Bio-Vizier of all time."
Some famous viziers in history
Influence on chess
In Shatranj, from which modern chess developed, the piece corresponding to the modern chess "queen" (though far weaker) was often called Wazīr. Up to the present, the word for the queen piece in chess is still called by variants of the word "vazīr" in Middle Eastern languages, as well as in Hungarian ("vezér", meaning "leader") and Russian ("ferz' (ферзь)").
See also
Look up vizier in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
^ a b c In the Ottoman Empire Grand vizier
  1. ^ "Vizier | Define Vizier at".​. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  2. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wazir" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 435.
  3. ^ R. A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, p. 257
  4. ^ "vizier". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-07-22.
  5. ^ Goyṭayn, Šelomo D.. Studies in Islamic history and institutions. P.171. Compare Quran 20:29, Quran 25:35 and Quran 94:02.
  6. ^ a b c Zaman 2002, p. 185.
  7. ^ Goyṭayn, Šelomo D. (1966). Studies in Islamic history and institutions. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  8. ^ Dehkhoda Dictionary
  9. ^ Klein, Ernest, A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language: Dealing with the origin of words and their sense development thus illustrating the history of civilization and culture, Volume 2, Elsevier, 1966.
  10. ^ "vizier", Encyclopædia Britannica 2010, Retrieved on 2010-06-17.
  11. ^ Zaman 2002, pp. 186–187.
  12. ^ Zaman 2002, p. 187.
  13. ^ Carmona 2002, pp. 191–192.
  14. ^ a b Carmona 2002, p. 192.
Last edited on 21 March 2021, at 14:33
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