The Qajars (Kadjars) and the Aqa (Aga) Khans


Very few people know of the history and the relationship between the Aqa (Aqa) Khans and the Qajars (Kadjars), fewer still remember that the Aqa (Aga) Khans are originally a Persian dynasty! The title "Aqa Khan" was an honorific title bestowed by Fath Ali Shah on his son-in-law Hassan Ali Shah (ca.1800-1881), the leader of the Ismaili Shi'as of Persia. "Aqa Khan" means "dear sir," and is thus both a term of endearment and an honorific title. Aqa Khan of Mahallat (Aga Khan Mahallati, or Aga Khan I), married Princess Sarv-e Jahan Khanum, Fath Ali Shah's daughter and sister of Abbas Mirza Naeb-Saltaneh, and thus the connection between the two families starts with him. (*)

Though Aqa (Aga) Khan I later becomes a bitter enemy of the Qajars (Kadjars), particularly Mohammad Shah, and sides with the British against the Qajar (Kadjar) Shahs, the enmity between the two houses soon subsides, and his son Ali Shah, Aqa (Aga) Khan II (ca 1830-1885), marries Nasser-ed-Din Shah's niece, Princess Shams-al Muluk.(#)

Ali Shah, Aqa (Aga) Khan II, was already related to both Nasser-ed-Din Shah and his own future wife because he was himself Fath Ali Shah's grand-son and thus Nasser-ed-Din Shah's first cousin! For these reasons Aqa (Aga) Khan I descendants are related by blood to the Qajars (Kadjars). The title "Aqa Khan" was only bestowed once by Qajar (Kadjar) Shahs, and refers exclusively to the Ismaili Imams. Today it has become the equivalent of their last name, thus Prince Sadruddin Aqa (Aga) Khan, and thus also Prince Karim Aqa (Aga) Khan, the present Aqa Khan (Aga Khan) IV. (@)



*) For an explanation of the meaning of the term "Aqa Khan" on the official site of the present Aqa (Aga) Khan, please click here. NEW!
#) According to Anne Edwards, (vide infra), she was the niece of Nasser-ed-Din Shah. In actuality her paternal aunt was one of the wives of Nasser-ed-Din Shah, and she, herself, was a descendant of Fath Ali Shah through her mother. (This information was gratefully received from Mr. Ferydoun Barjesteh.)
@) For a profile of the present Aqa (Aga) Khan, click here. For the Ismaili Home Page, click here. For a recent article about Prince Sadruddin Aqa (Aga) Khan emphasizing his Qajar (Kadjar) ancestry, please click here. NEW!


Mihir Bose, The Aga Khans, The Windmill Press, Surrey, 1984.
Anne Edwards, Throne of Gold: The Lives of the Aga Khans, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1995.
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, lecture on the occasion of his father's (Aga Khan III) centenary.



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