ʿALĀʾ-AL-MOLK, MĪRZĀ MAḤMŪD KHAN DĪBĀ, son of Mīrzā ʿAlī Aṣḡar Mostawfī, governor and minister in the later Qajar period (1258-1344/1842-1925). Born into a family of powerful ʿolamāʾ, the Ṭabāṭabāʾī sayyeds of Tabrīz, he went to Tiflis after ten years of elementary and traditional studies in Iran. Upon his return to Tabrīz, he entered the provincial administration and served there for two years. After government positions in Tehran, Tiflis, and again in Tabrīz, he entered the foreign ministry and was sent to London for six months. In 1290/1873 he went to Astrakhan to prepare for Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s arrival on his way to Europe; after proceeding to Moscow in the shah’s entourage, he was entrusted with the task of arranging the return of the royal harem to Iran. Four years later, in 1294/1877, he was posted to Tiflis as consul general, and in the following year he was transferred to the legation at St. Petersburg as chargé d’affaires. In 1304/1887 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Russia. The title ʿAlāʾ-al-molk was conferred on him after the death of its previous holder, Ḥāǰǰī Mīrzā ʿAbdallāh Khan. His service as minister to Russia lasted about three years. In Raǰab, 1312/January, 1895 he was appointed to Istanbul (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye Ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 134). After six years in that post, he was recalled and made governor of Kermān, where he was very popular with the local populace; he investigated complaints personally and stopped abuses (Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermānī, Tārīḵ-ebīdārī-e Īrānīān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1346-49 Š./1967-70, intro., p. 168). He also negotiated frontier problems in Sīstān with the British Indian authorities. Several Europeans who met him during his governorship of Kermān spoke highly of him (M. Maḥmūd, Tārīḵ-erawābeṭ-e sīāsī-e Iran o Engelīs, Tehran, 1328-33 Š./1949-54, VII, p. 1883). After his recall from Kermān he became minister of education and later served as minister of justice and governor of Isfahan for short periods. He was again appointed minister of justice in the cabinets of Atābak-e Aʿẓam Amīn-al-solṭān (for four months in 1325/1907) and Moḥammad-Walī Khan Sepahsālār (for six months in 1334/1915-16). Following the shelling of the Maǰles in Jomādā I, 1326/June, 1908, he and Wakīl-al-molk were sent abroad by order of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah on a mission to obtain the views of other states about constitutionalism and the system of government in Iran (Tārīḵ-ebīdārī I, p. 254), but no doubt basically to announce Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah’s continued authority. After the assassination of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah, it had been ʿAlāʾ-al-molk who was given the task of arranging the deportation of Mīrzā Āqā Khan Kermānī, Shaikh Aḥmad Rūḥī, and Mīrzā Ḥasan Khan Ḵabīr-al-molk from Turkey. He attempted without success to prevent their execution (Tārīḵ-ebīdārī, intro., p. 15). Later, at considerable expense to himself, ʿAlāʾ-al-molk arranged the printing of Kermānī’s book, Āʾīna-ye Eskandarī.
See also Bāmdād, Reǰāl IV, pp. 39-42.
(Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Aardakānī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: December 15, 1984