Begum, begam, baigum or beygum (Turkish: begüm, Persian: بیگم, Urdu: بیگم, Bengali: বেগম) is a female royal and aristocratic title from Central and South Asia. It is the feminine equivalent of the title baig or bey, which in Turkic languages means "higher official". It usually refers to the wife or daughter of a beg. The related form begzadi (daughter of a beg) also occurs.
In South Asia, particularly in Punjab, Sindh, Hyderabad, Delhi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sylhet, begum has been adapted for use as an honorific for Muslim women of high social status, accomplishment, or power. The honorific may either precede or follow proper name of the woman.
Some examples of women with the title of begum are:
- Khanzada Begum
- Zaynab Begum
- Begum Hazrat Mahal
- Mughal Princesses Jahanara Begum and Roshanara Begum
- Begum Inaara Aga Khan
- Begum Nusrat Bhutto
- Begum Khaleda Zia
- Saira Banu
- Sharmila Tagore
- Begum of Bhopal
Begum in modern society
Colloquially, the term is also used in Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh by Muslim men to refer to their own wives, daughters, sisters or as an honorific address to a married or widowed woman.
In Bangladesh the term has been used for the titles of current and former First Lady of Bangladesh e.g. Begum Khaleda Zia and Begum Rowshan Ershad. It has also been used to refer to women of high social status such as phillantrophists, activists, authors and many others such as Begum Sufia Kamal.
The term had earlier become known in Great Britain during the impeachment and Parliamentary trial of Warren Hastings, former Governor-General of India, which lasted from 1787 until 1795. One of the major charges against Hastings was that he had unjustly confiscated land belonging to the "Begums of Oudh" (the mother and grandmother of Asaf-Ud-Dowlah, Nawab of Oudh).
Begumpet is one of the major commercial and residential suburbs of the city of Hyderabad, India. Begumpet stands on land given by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad to his daughter as her wedding present when she married a Paigah noble.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, is referred as Begumpura ("Ladies' Town") by members of the Pakistani community of Toronto. Mississauga has a large Pakistani immigrant community and many husbands work in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia while their wives and children live in Mississauga.
- Ayşe Begüm Onbaşı (born 2001), Turkish aerobic gymnast
- Begüm Kütük (born 1980), Turkish actress
- Begum Tabassum Hasan (born 1979), Indian politician
- Mumtaz Begum (actress) (born 1923), Bollywood actress
- Zubeida Begum (1926–1952), Indian film actress
- Moazzambaig, Begzadi or Begzada[permanent dead link]. Digg.com: Social News. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Women in the Safavid era, Iran Chamber Society
- Muslim immigrants to Canada facing discrimination and social problems