The Qajars (Kadjars) and the Agha Khans


Very few people know of the history and the relationship between the Agha Khans and the Qajars (Kadjars), fewer still remember that the Agha Khans are originally a Persian dynasty! The title Agha 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. Agha Khan means "dear sir," and is thus both a term of endearment and an honorific title. Agha 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 Agha 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, Agha Khan II (ca 1830-1885), marries Nasser-ed-Din Shah's niece, Princess Shams-al Muluk.(#)

Ali Shah, Agha 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 Agha Khan I descendants are related by blood to the Qajars (Kadjars). The title Agha 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 Agha Khan, and thus also Prince Karim Agha Khan, the present Agha Khan (Aga Khan) IV. (@)



*) For an explanation of the meaning of the term "Agha Khan" on the official site of the present Agha 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. Fereydoun Barjesteh, whose project on Qajar (Kadjar) families promises to eclipse any undertaken so far!)
@) For a profile of the present Agha Khan, click here. For the Ismaili Home Page, click here. For a recent article about Prince Sadruddin Agha 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 Agha Khan, lecture on the occasion of his father's (Aga Khan III) centenary.



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