A wilayah (ولاية in Arabic, velâyat/ولایت in Persian, vilayet in Turkish and ولایت in Urdu) is an administrative division, usually translated as "state", "province", or occasionally as "governorate". The word comes from the Arabic "w-l-y", "to govern": a wāli—"governor"—governs a wilayah, "that which is governed". Under the Caliphate, the term referred to any constituent near-sovereign state.
In Arabic, wilayah is used to refer to the states of the United States, and the United States of America as a whole is called al-Wilāyāt al-Muttaḥidah al-Amrīkīyah, literally meaning "the American United States".
The governorates of Iraq (muhafazah) are sometimes translated as provinces, in contrast to official Iraqi documents and the general use for other Arab countries. This conflicts somehow with the general translation for muhafazah (governorate) and wilāyah (province).
In the ethnically-diverse Xinjiang region of northwest China, the seven undifferentiated prefectures proper (Chinese: 地区; pinyin: dìqū; that is, not prefecture-level cities, autonomous prefectures, etc.) are translated into the minority Uygur language as Vilayiti (ۋىلايىتى). For the other, more numerous types of administrative divisions in Xinjiang, however, Uygur uses Russian loanwords like oblasti or rayoni, in common with other Xinjiang languages like Kazakh.
The Islamic State (formerly of Iraq and Syria; Daesh, ISIS, IS or ISIL) organizes its territory under first-level administrative divisions called wilayat. As of March 2015, it governs 20 vilayat: 10 in Iraq, 9 in Syria, and one, Al-Furat Wilayat ("Euphrates Province") that straddles both sides of the former border. Other than for internal governance, the Islamic State claims territory all over the world and cooperates with Islamic terror organizations while fashioning them wilayat of the ISIS center. For example, Boko Haram calls itself "Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah", meaning "The Islamic State's West Africa Province".
In Kenya, the term wilaya is a Swahili term which refers to the administrative districts into which provinces are divided.
In Malaysia, the term
Traditionally the provinces of the Ottoman Empire were known as eyâlets, but beginning in 1864, they were gradually restructured as smaller vilâyets—the Turkish pronunciation of the Arabic word wilāyah. Most were subdivided into sanjaks.
The current provinces of Turkey are called il in Turkish.
In the Tsez language, the districts of Dagestan are also referred to as "вилайат" (wilayat), plural "вилайатйоби" (wilayatyobi). But the term "район" (rayon), plural "районйаби" (rayonyabi) is also used.
In Iran, the word is also used unofficially.
In Urdu, the term Vilayat is used to refer to any foreign country. As an adjective Vilayati is used to indicate an imported article or good. In Bengali, the term Vilayat and Vilayati further change to bilet and bileti (archaic bilaiti), referring exclusively to Britain and British-made. The British slang term blighty derives from this word, via the fact that the foreign British were referred to using this word during the time of the British Raj.
Other Indian words include blighty ('one's home country', from the Hindi word 'bilayati' meaning 'foreign', whence 'British')