Shāh Khalīlullāh III

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Shāh Khalīlullāh III (Persian: شاه خليل الله‎‎‎; 1740–1817) was the 45th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili Shia community. In 1792 he succeeded his father Abū-l-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Qāsim ‘Alī, for whom he was his eldest son. He moved the seat of the Imamate from Kirman to Kahak, Qom, from where he led for 20 years. His name of Shah Khalil Allah was a Ni'matullāhī Sufi name, which reflected the close relationship between the Nizaris and Ni'matullāhīs. In 1815 Shāh Khalīlullāh moved to Yazd in order to be closer to his Indian followers.[1]

Death and succession[edit]

Shāh Khalīlullāh died at the age of 77 in 1817 (along with several followers) as a result of a fanatical Twelver Shia cleric called Mulla Husayn Yazdi inciting a Twelver mob to attack the Imam's house as a follow up to a dispute between some Nizaris and some Twelver shopkeepers. However, Yazdi’s real aim may have been to weaken the spreading influence of the Nizaris. The Imam's house was also plundered in the attack. Mulla Husayn Yazdi was punished for his actions by Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar (the second Qajar king of Iran), since the king and the Imam had been on good terms.[2]

The Imam was buried in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, in a mausoleum that also contains the bodies of some of his relatives and descendants. The Imam was the last to have spent his entire Imamate in Persia. He was succeeded by his eldest son Shāh Ḥassan ‘Alī, who was the first Nizari Imam to use the title Aga Khan- a trend which has continued to the present day.

Following the Imams death, the Ismailis of Iran were in a strong enough position to finally come out publicly and cease their use of Taqiyya, which had been in force for over 500 years.[3]

Western views[edit]

Scottish traveller and author James Baillie Fraser described the Imam as “a person of high respectability and great influence”, while French linguist and orientalist Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy quoted a description of the Imam as “This person, whom his people grace with the pompous title of caliph, enjoys a great reputation and is considered to have the gift of performing miracles”.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, by Farhad Daftary, page 462.
  2. ^ The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, by Farhad Daftary, page 463.
  3. ^ a b "The Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili Muslims, History, Latest Video, News and Downloads :: Site map - Encyclopedia article view". Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
Shāh Khalīlullāh III
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 1740 C.E Died: 1817 C.E.
Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Abū-l-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Qāsim ‘Alī
45th Imam of Nizari Ismailism
Succeeded by
Hasan Ali Shah