Title used by monarchs in Muslim countries.
The title was one of indirect religious meaning, as the sultan was supposed to have both moral and spiritual authority as defined by the Koran. Yet, the sultan was no religious leader — he was more a secular leader who ruled in accordance with Islam.
The religious element of the title was well illustrated by the fact that it was the shadow caliph in Cairo that bestowed the title “sultan” on the fourth leader of the Ottomans (the earlier leaders had been beys).
At later stages, even smaller rulers took the name “sultan”, as was the case for the earlier leaders of today’s royal family of Morocco.