ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA, MOḤAMMAD RAḤĪM KHAN AMĪR-E NEẒĀM (d. 1299/1882), notable of the Qajar tribe and holder of high offices under Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah. He belonged to the Yoḵārībāš faction and Davallū clan of the Qajars of Gorgān, and was the son of Moḥammad Amīn Khan, who had held the post of nasaqčībāšī (chief disciplinary officer). He was appointed governor of Ḵoy in 1267/1851 (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Montaẓam-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1298-1300/1881-83, III, p. 207) and governor of Nehāvand in 1276/1860, in which year his son ʿAbdallāh Khan was put in charge of the cavalry from the Ḵazal region (ibid., p. 642). In 1277/1861, while Moḥammad Raḥīm Khan held the post of nasaqčībāšī he was sent to Istanbul as a special envoy on the occasion of the death of Sultan ʿAbd-al-Maǰīd and the accession of Sultan ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz. At this time he was honored with the title ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla. Among the offices he held, some of them simultaneously, were governor of Tehran (1283/1866); head of the arsenal (1285/1868); member of the council of state (dār-al-šawrā-ye kobrā), head of the royal orderlies (farrāšbāšī), and governor of Hamadān (1288/1871); commander of the royal guard (kašīk-ḵāna, 1289/1872); minister of war (1291/1874); and minister of the court (1292/1875; ibid., pp. 300, 309, 322, 334, 337). On the shah’s first journey to Europe in 1290/1873, he was included in the royal retinue (ibid., p. 328) with the temporary designation īšīk āqāsībāšī (head chamberlain); on his return the administration of the farrāš-ḵāna and of the royal gardens and buildings was again conferred on him. In 1294/1877 he was commissioned to inspect the affairs of Ḵūzestān and Lorestān; his responsibilities then included not only the ministries of the court and of finance, but also the administration of Gīlān (ibid., p. 344). In 1298/1881, when he held the offices of court minister and guard commander (sarkašīkčībāšī), he was posted to Azerbaijan with the title of Amīr-e Neẓām and provided with full discretionary powers and an appropriate staff consisting of experienced civil servants (ibid., p. 369). During the same year he recruited a new force of about 2,000 cavalry from ʿErāq-e ʿAǰam and Azerbaijan, who were called Ḡolāmān-e Manṣūr and placed under the command of his son Mīrzā Aḥmad Khan; later the shah issued an order for their number to be increased to 10,000. The crown prince, who was the titular governor of Azerbaijan, entrusted all the important business of the province to ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla (ibid., p. 379). In Šawwāl, 1299/July-August, 1882 he was appointed Amīr-e Tūmān (divisional commander). He died of a heart attack on the night of Saturday 30 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1299/20 September 1882 (ibid., p. 381). The supposition that he was poisoned by his son Mīrzā Aḥmad Khan at the shah’s behest (Ḵāṭerāt-e Ḥāǰǰ Sayyāḥ, ed. Ḥ. Sayyāḥ, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, p. 267) is certainly baseless. His title ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla was later transferred to Mīrzā Aḥmad Khan, while the title Amīr-e Neẓām was given to Ḥasan ʿAlī Khan Garrūsī (ibid., p. 381).

ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla’s personal qualities are praised by Eʿtemād-al-salṭana (Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 4), though the members of his family were famous for their hardheartedness because of their occupation of nasaqčībāšī. They were said to carry “Šemr’s dagger,” all the more so since it was well-known that one of their ancestors, Moḥammad Ḥosayn Khan Qāǰār, had been ordered to kill Shah Ṭahmāsb II and his two small sons had performed the task with extreme cruelty (Moḥammad Ḵalīl Maṛʿašī Ṣafawī, Maǰmaʿ al-tawārīḵ, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1328 Š./1949, p. 84; ʿA. Eqbāl, Tārīḵ-emofaṣṣal-e Īrān, Tehran, 1320 Š./1941, p. 319; ʿA. Mostawfī, Šarḥ-e zendegānī-e man, Tehran, 1324-26 Š./1945-47, III, p. 134).

During his lifetime ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla managed to raise his sons to high official positions: ʿAbdallāh Khan to the command of the kašīk-ḵāna, Maḥmūd Khan to that of the ḡolāmān-e ḵāṣṣa (royal pages), Aḥmad Khan to that of the gārd-e maḵṣūṣ (royal bodyguard), Moḥammad Ḥasan Khan to that of the farrāš-ḵāna, the sarāydār-ḵāna (palace maintenance), and the nasaq-ḵāna, and Ḥosayn ʿAlī Khan to ḡolām-e pīšḵedmatbāšī (majordomo) in 1294/1877. ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla sponsored one of the best editions of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī; containing a concordance, it was printed in 1299/1882 under the supervision of Mīrzā Ṭāher Baṣīr-al-molk Šaybānī.

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, pp. 770-771

Cite this entry:

Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, “ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, pp. 770-771; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ala-al-dawla-mohammad-rahim-khan-amir-e-nezam-d (accessed on 14 May 2014).