Ostikan was (and is?) the title of various oriental provincial governors.
||This section may stray from the topic of the article. (October 2011)|
After the prophet Mohammed and his testator heir and successor Abu Bakr (+634) has established the theocratic rule of Islam on most of the sparsely populated Arabian peninsula, the armies of the next caliphs victoriously planted the green banner of the new religion in vast territories conquered on the neighboring giaur (infidel) empires of Persia (extinguishing the Zoroastrian -dualist pagan- Sassanids) and Byzantium (the Christian remnant that still considered itself the continuation of the Roman Empire, but was thus reduced in Asia to Anatolia and completely swept out of Northern Africa, while it kept losing European territories to mainly Germanic and Slavonic invaders).
Just like the conquering Romans had been culturally converted to the Greco-oriental Hellenism, the simple tribal Arabs were seduced by the far more sophisticated civilization of those old, rich empires. One feature they had to adopt immediately was the introduction of a 'provincial' level of administration, corresponding to the Byzantine theme and the Persian satrapy. The governors of these first permanent Muslim provinces were entitled ostikan, sometimes also styled Emir (a generic Arabic term for leader, then mainly applied to generals) as they were primarily required to keep up the military potential (for defense and holy war against infidels) and maintain order internally.
Most provinces were in or just around the former Sassanid Persia, often continuing old satrapies and/or surviving as modern provinces. Not counting the caliph's new home region of Syria, nor Egypt (including eastern Libya; both only recently lost by Byzantium to the Sassanids), these were Iraq and Mesopotamia (both Arabized, around ancient Ctesiphon and modern Baghdad respectively around ancient Nineveh and modern Mosul), Khuzestan around ancient Susa, still partly Arabic), Armenia, Iberia (i.e. Trans-Caucasian Georgia), Arran-Schirwan (east of it) all three of the northern front, Azerbaijan (Iranian tribes) and the ethnic heart of Iran (Fars which is the eponymous home province, Djibal -the ancient Media-, Gilan, Tabaristan and Djurdjan (all three on the Caspian Sea coast), Kerman, Sistan and Khorasan (including Herat in present Afghanistan); under the Omayyad dynasty (661-750) the caliphate expanded further east, adding Sindh (now southern Pakistan), Zabulistan (including Kabul and Ghazna, later the eponymous seat of a mighty break-away Ghaznavid dynasty) and in Central Asia Tocharistan (around Balkh) and Transoxania (Sogdia, Fergana and Mawara An-Nahr, with Samarkand).
In Northern Africa, west of Egypt (hence the Arabic word maghreb 'the west', also adopted in western languages via the French colonizer) the provinces included Tripolis and Barka (in present Libya) and Ifriqiya (i.e. former Africa : the heartland of the Byzantinian Exarchate of Carthage, with its new capitals Kairouan and Tunis, hence the modern name Tunisia) in the former Byzantinian coastal region, and further conquests west and south, in the ancient homeland of the Berbers known as Barbary, mainly the new province named Maghrib (still the Arabic name of the modern sherifian kingdom of Morocco, but including the east of modern Algeria).
In his modern, as much western as Islamic empire of Iran, the autocratic Pahlevi-shah did not reintroduce the Satrap of his ancient Achaemenid model (as continued by Alexander and his Hellenistic diadochs, Seleucids as well as the Lagid 'Ptolemies' in Egypt; and by the Parthians and by the Sassanids), but *