ŠĀH ḴALIL-ALLĀH, also known as Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh Maḥallāti, the forty-fifth imam of the Qāsemšāhi branch of Nezāri Ismaʿilis. He was the eldest son of Sayyed Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli and succeeded his father to the Ismaʿili imamate in 1206/1792. Imam Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli, also known as Sayyed Kahaki, was appointed to the governorship of the province of Kermān around 1170/1756 by Karim Khan Zand; earlier, he had been the beglerbegi (governor) of the city of Kerman for some time (Waziri, II, pp. 698 ff.; Širāzi, pp. 74-77; Perry, pp. 135-36; Daftary, 459-62). Sayyed Kahaki ruled independently over Kerman during the unsettled years when Āḡā Moḥammad Khan, the future founder of the Qajar dynasty, was challenging Zand rule in Kerman and other regions of Persia.
On Sayyed Kahaki’s death in 1206/1792, Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh succeeded him in the Nezāri imamate. Soon after his accession, Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh transferred his seat from Kerman to Kahak and Maḥallāt, where he remained for about twenty years. Henceforth, the Nezāri imams acquired properties and deep roots in the Maḥallāt area. Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh maintained regular contacts also with his Nezāri Khoja followers in Sind, Gujarat, and other parts of India, who embarked on hazardous journeys to see their imam in Persia and deliver their religious dues to him.
Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli had close relations with several leading Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufis in Kerman, and it was during his time that the Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufi order was revived in Persia. His successor Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh, too, maintained friendly relations with this Sufi order. However, despite his Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufi name, Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh was never initiated into this order. He married Bibi Sarkāra, daughter of Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Maḥallāti, who bore the next Nezāri imam, Ḥasan-ʿAlišāh, Āqā Khan I, in 1219/1804 in Kahak. Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Maḥallāti (d. 1230/1815) was a Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufi, initiated by Moẓaffar-ʿAlišāh; and his son, ʿEzzat-ʿAlišāh (d. ca. 1245/1829), was another prominent Neʿmat-Allāhi dervish. Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh had friendly relations with his Neʿmat-Allāhi relatives and other prominent dervishes of this order (Maʿṣum-ʿAlišāh, III, pp. 190, 263-64, 290; Lewisohn, pp. 439-53).
In 1230/1815, Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh moved to Yazd, probably in order to be closer to the pilgrimage route of his Nezāri Khoja followers, who had continued to make the perilous journey to see their imam, and often had their possessions plundered by brigands along the way. It was at Yazd that two years later, in 1232/1817, the Nezāri imam became a victim of the intrigues of a Twelver Shiʿite cleric and lost his life in the course of a dispute between some of his followers and the local shopkeepers (Hedāyat, IX, pp. 551-53; Lesān-al-Molk Sepehr, I, pp. 293-94; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, III, p. 1537; Nāʾini, pp. 558-66; Algar, pp. 55-56). The Ismaʿili followers of Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh had evidently resorted to violence in settling their differences with the shopkeepers in the bazaar; and, subsequently, they took refuge in Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh’s house and refused to emerge. A certain Mollā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Yazdi, who resented the spreading influence locally of the Nezāri Ismaʿili imam, collected a mob and attacked the imam’s house. In the ensuing melee, Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh and several of his followers, including a Khoja, were murdered, and the imam’s house was pillaged. Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah Qājār, who had good relations with the Nezāri imam, ordered his governor in Yazd, Ḥāji Moḥammad-Zamān Khan, to send Mollā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn and his accomplices to Tehran for punishment. However, on the intercession of Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan Neẓām-al-Dawla, the father of the governor, Mollā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn was merely bastinadoed and his beard was plucked, but no one was executed for the imam’s murder (Nāʾini, pp. 558-66; Algar, pp. 55-56; Daftary, p. 463).
Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh, the last of the Qāsemšāhi Nezāri Ismaʿili imams to spend his entire imamate, some twenty-five years, in Persia, was taken for burial to Najaf in Iraq, where a mausoleum was constructed for him and some of his descendants. Šāh Ḵalil-Allāh had three sons, Moḥammad-Ḥasan, known also as Ḥasan-ʿAlišāh, Sardār Abu’l-Ḥasan Khan, and Moḥammad-Bāqer Khan. He was succeeded in the imamate by his eldest son Ḥasan-ʿAlišāh, who received the title of Āqā Khan from Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah Qājār (for him, see Daftary, pp. 463 ff.).
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Originally Published: April 25, 2015
Last Updated: April 25, 2015Cite this entry:
Farhad Daftary, "ŠĀH ḴALIL-ALLĀH," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/shah-khalil-allah (accessed on 25 April 2015).