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Melech (Arabic language: ملك‎ ) (Hebrew: מֶלֶךְ‎ ) is an Arabic, Northwest Semitic (e.g. Neo Aramaic) and Hebrew word meaning "king, chieftain". It is very similar to the Arabic name/word مالِك mālik, which in some languages means "master" or "head (of something)".

Although the early forms of the name were to be found among the Pre-Arab and Pre-Islamic Semites of The Levant, Canaan and Mesopotamia, it has since been adopted in various other, mainly Islamized or Arabized, Asian languages for their ruling princes and to render kings elsewhere. It is also sometimes used in derived meanings. 'Al-Malik' (literally 'The King') is one of the Names of Allah.

The female version of Malik is Malikah (Arabic language: ملكة‎) (or its Persian language equivalent Malekeh), meaning "queen". The name Malik originally found among various Semitic peoples such as Arabs, Jews, Mandeans, the indigenous ethnic Assyrian Christians of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey and Syriacs/Arameans, has since been spread among various predominantly Muslim peoples in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, for example, in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi.


The earliest form of the name Malka was used to denote a prince or chieftain in the East Semitic Akkadian language of the Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria, Babylonia and Chaldea.[1] The Northwest Semitic mlk was the title of the rulers of the primarily Amorite, Sutean, Canaanite, Phoenician and Aramean city-states of the Levant and Canaan from the Late Bronze Age. Eventual derivatives include the Arabic, Aramaic and Assyrian forms: Malik, Malek, Mallick, Malkha, Malka, Malkai and the Hebrew form "Melek".

Moloch has been traditionally interpreted the epithet of a god, known as "the king" like Baal was an epithet "the master" and Adon an epithet "the lord", but in the case of Moloch purposely mispronounced as Molek instead of Melek using the vowels of Hebrew bosheth "shame".[2]


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Primarily a malik is the ruling monarch of a kingdom, called mamlaka, title used by the former slaves aka Mamluks (مملوك) royal dynasty of Egypt[citation needed]; that term is however also used in a broader sense, like realm, for rulers with another, generally lower titles, as in Sahib al-Mamlaka. Malik is also used for tribal leaders, e.g. among the Pashtuns.

Some Arab kingdoms are presently ruled by a Malik:

  • Bahrain, formerly under a hakim, or "lord", until 16 August 1971, then under an emir, or "prince", and since 14 February 2002 under a malik.
  • Jordan, formerly the Emirate of Transjordan;
  • Morocco, formerly a Sultanate;
  • Tunisia, formerly ruled by maliks, title still worn by descendants of the royal family;
  • Saudi Arabia. On 10 June 1916 the Grand Sharif of Mecca assumed the title of King of the Hejaz; from 29 October 1916 "King of the Arabs and Commander of the Faithful; from 6 November 1916 recognized by the allied powers only as King of the Hejaz, Commander of the Faithful, Grand Sharif and Emir of Mecca; also assumed the title of Caliph on 11 March 1924; from 3 October 1924: King of the Hejaz and Grand Sharif of Mecca. In 1925 Nejd conquered Hijaz, so the Sultan of Nejd added the title "King of Hijaz". On 22 September 1932 Nejd and Hejaz were renamed as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, full style: Malik al-Mamlaka al-'Arabiyya as-Sa'udiyya ("King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"); from 1986 prefixed to the name: Khadim al-Haramayn ash-Sharifayn ("Servant (i.e. Protector) of the Two Exalted Holy Places [Mecca and Medina]").

Other historic realms under a Malik include:

  • Egypt — the former khedivate and subsequently independent sultanate was ruled by Malik Misr ("King of Egypt") from 1922 to 1951; and Malik Misr wa's Sudan ("King of Egypt and the Sudan") from 16 October 1951 until the proclamation of the republic on 18 June 1953
  • Iraq — between 23 August 1921 and 2 May 1958, Iraq was ruled by a Hashemite Malik al-'Iraq ("King of Iraq"). Among the indigenous Assyrian people, the term has been (and still is) used since pre Arab and pre Islamic for the title of tribal chief, for example Malik Khoshaba of the Bit-Tyareh tribe.
  • Libya — Idris I (1890–1983) (Sayyid Muhammad Idris as-Sanusi, heir of a Muslim sect's dynasty) reigned as Malik al-Mamlaka al-Libiyya al-Muttahida ("King of the United Libyan Kingdom") from 24 December 1951 through 25 April 1963 and Malik al-Mamlaka al-Libiyya ("King of the Libyan Kingdom") until 1 September 1969
  • Maldives — between 1965 and 1968, Muhammad Fareed Didi ruled Maldives as Jala'ala ul-Malik ("King" and the style of "His Majesty"); previous rulers were styled: Sultan of Land and Sea and Lord of the twelve-thousand islands, holding both the Arabic title of Sultan and the more ancient Divehi title of Maha Radun or Ras Kilege
  • Oman — the Nabhani dynasty ruled Oman between 1154 and 1470, later it was an imamate/ sultanate
  • Yemen — between *1918 and 27 September 1962, and in dissidence to March 1970, the imamate of Yemen was ruled by Imam al-Muslimin, Amir al-Mu'minin, Malik al-Mamlaka al-Mutawakkiliyya al-Yamaniyya ("Imam of the Muslims, Commander of the Faithful, King of the Mutawakkilite Yemeni Kingdom")

In Mughal and colonial India, the princely state of Zainabad, Vanod was ruled by a Malek Shri (Shri is an emphatical honorific without intrinsic meaning).

The title Malik has also been used in languages which adopted Arabic loanwords (mainly, not exclusively, in Muslim cultures), for various princely or lower ranks and functions.

  • In miaphysite Armenia, the title of Melik was bestowed upon princes who ruled various principalities, often referred to as Melikdoms.
  • In Orthodox Georgia, among the numerous Grandees:
    • In the fourth class, (Sul-didibuli-tavadi) of the Kingdom of Kartli, commanders of banners (drosha), sixth and last in that class, the Malik of Somkheti (Somkheti-meliki).
    • In the sixth class, Grandees of the second class (mtavari) of the Kingdom of Kartli, ranking first of the second subclass, Grandees under the Prince of Sabaratiano: the Malik of Lori, head of the house of Melikishvili.

The word Malik is sometimes used in Arabic to render roughly equivalent titles of foreign rulers, for instance the chronicler Baha al-Din Ibn Shaddad refers to King Richard I of England as Malik al-Inkitar.

  • In Pakistan Tanoli head of Village are called Malik in Villages


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  • It is also one of the Names of God in the Qur'an, and is then al-Malik (الملك) or The King, Lord of the Worlds in the absolute sense (denoted by the definite article), meaning the King of Kings, above all earthly rulers.
    • Hence, Abdelmelik ("servant of [Allah] the King ") is an Arabic male name.
  • In Biblical Hebrew, Moloch is either the name of a god or the name of a particular kind of sacrifice associated historically with Phoenician and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant.
  • Melqart ("king of the city") was a Phoenician and Punic god.
  • The Melkites (from Syriac malkāyâ, ܡܠܟܝܐ, "imperial") are the members of several Christian churches of the Middle East, originally those who sided with the Byzantine emperor.

Compound and derived titles

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  • Malika is the female derivation, a term of Arabic origin used in Persia as the title for a Queen consort (i.e. not ruling, which no Islamic state's tradition does allow to women). Frequently also used as part of a lady's name, e.g. Malika-i-Jahan 'Queen of the World'.
  • Sahib us-Sumuw al-Malik (female Sahibat us-Sumuw al-Malik) is an Arabic title for His/Her Royal Highness, notably for Princes in the dynasty of the Malik of Egypt

The following components are frequently part of titles, notably in Persian (also used elsewhere, e.g. in India's Moghol tradition):

  • - ul-Mulk (or ul-Molk): - of the kingdom; e.g. Malik Usman Khan, who served the Sultan of Gujarat as Governor of Lahore, received the title of Zubdat ul-Mulk 'best of the kingdom' as a hereditary distinction, which was retained as part of the style of his heirs, the ruling Diwans (only since 1910 promoted to Nawab) of Palanpur.
  • - ul-Mamaluk (plural of ul-mulk): - of the kingdoms.

In the great Indian Muslim salute state of Hyderabad, a first rank- vassal of the Mughal padshah (emperor) imitating his lofty Persian court protocol, the word Molk became on itself one of the titles used for ennobled Muslim retainers of the ruling Nizam's court, in fact the third in rank, only below Jah (the highest) and Umara, but above Daula, Jang, Nawab, Khan Bahadur and Khan; for the Nizam's Hindu retainers different titles were used, the equivalent of Molk being Vant.

Usage In South Asia

chandor Malik {Delhi}

With the arrival of Arabs and Persians in the region, the term Malik became popular amongst rulers and aristocrats. Soon after, it became the most prestigious title of them all in the region.

Pashtun usage

The Arabic term came to be adopted as a term for "tribal chieftain" in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan, especially among Pashtuns, for a tribal leader or a chieftain. In tribal Pashtun society the Maliks serve as de facto arbiters in local conflicts, interlocutors in state policy-making, tax-collectors, heads of village and town councils and delegates to provincial and national jirgas as well as to Parliament.

Malik is a common surname among the Kakazai Pashtuns.

Punjabi usage

In the Punjab, "Malik" was one of the titles used by local aristocrats, more formally known as Zamindars, under both the Mughals and the British, and to some degree still in present-day Pakistan. The title is given for large amount of ownership of land(landlords). Currently, in Punjab region of Pakistan, Malik is mostly used by different Rajputs clans and Jatt clans to show their large land ownership. Mainly in the yester years, malik was used to signify largest land ownership in the area.

Among the Rajput, Maliks are a Suryavanshi clan, and are Dogras. The Hindu branch provided the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to independence, the districts of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur were home to a large number of Muslim Maliks. In what became Pakistani territory, they are found in numbers in Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi districts, which all bordered Jammu and Kashmir. Malik Hindu in what is now Pakistan converted into Islam, especially during and before India - Pakistan partition while those in India retained their respective religions.

Most famous of the clans of Punjab that use the surname Malik include Awan, Chattar, Pahore, Tiwana,Dharoee, Gathwal, Khokhar, Minhas, Janjua, Gunjial, Wattu, Noon, Haans, chandoor, Langrial, Bandial, Bhatti, Johiya, attra, Taman, and Khukhrain.

General Usage

Like many prestigious titles, Malik or Malek is a common element in first and family names, usually without any aristocratic meaning. For example, Awan Malik is a large community in Pakistan with Arab heritage. Malik is used both as title and surname in Pakistan.

Some Maliks (Urdu: ملک) are also a clan of Hindu Jatt, Muslim Jatt and a few Sikh Jatt, found primarily in Haryana and Pakistan and parts of Punjab (There also exist Hindu Punjabi Maliks that are part of the Khukhrain or Arora communities but they are entirely different from jats). The Hindu Malik Jat are spread all over Haryana. The Muslim Malik Jat community is settled all over Pakistan and Sikh, mainly in the Punjab province. The Malik are also known as the Ghatwala. They are descended from Mann Jats and have been ferocious warriors in history, earning them the name Malik(leader). The Gathwala are now designating themselves as Maliks, which is a title. There were Pakistanis with the title Malik residing in Pakistan before it was split into Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Maliks there are now scattered around both countries and are respected in certain areas.

Other uses

Malik is also an unrelated Greenlandic Inuit name meaning "wave."[3]

See also

  • The name of the Maluku islands (Indonesia) is thought to have been derived from the Arab trader's term for the region, Jazirat al-Muluk ('the land of many kings').[4]
  • The local name of the Minicoy (India), Maliku is also thought to have been derived from the Arab trader's term for the island, Jazirat al-Maliku ('the island of the king'). Since it was the ancient capital of Lakshadweepa.[5]

Notable Family

  • Zayn Malik


  1. F.Leo Oppenheim - Ancient Mesopotamia
  2. "Molech". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  4. Ricklefs, M.C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300, 2nd Edition. London: MacMillan. pp. 24. ISBN 0-333-57689-6. 
  5. Lutfy, Mohamed Ibrahim. Thaareekhuge therein Lakshadheebu

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