ENTEẒĀM, ʿABD-ALLĀH and NAṢR-ALLĀH, two brothers active in 20th-century Persian politics.

1. ʿAbd-Allāh Enteẓām (Figure 1), diplomat and politician (b. 1274 Š./1895 in Tehran, d. 2 Farvardīn 1362 Š./22 March 1983). He was the eldest son of Ḵoršīdlaqā Ḡaffārī and Sayyed Moḥammad Enteẓām-al-Salṭana. His father was a diplomat, who also served as a director-general (modīr-e koll) of the Ministry of the Interior (Wezārat-e kešvar) under Reżā Shah, a Sufi affiliated to the Ṣafī-ʿAlīšāhī order, and a leader of the Anjoman-e oḵowwat (q.v.). His grandfather, Sayyed ʿAbd-Allāh Tafrešī Enteẓām-al-Ṣalṭana, had been briefly chief of police (wazīr-e naẓmīya) during the reign of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah Qājār (1264-1313/1848-96).

Upon the completion of his education at the German Technical School (Madrasa-ye ṣanʿatī), the Dār-al-Fonūn (q.v.), and the School of Political Science (Madrasa-ye sīāsī), ʿAbd-Allāh joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wezārat-e omūr-e ḵāreja) in 1298 Š./1919 and served as secretary at the Persian embassy in Washington, D.C. While in the United States, he studied mechanical engineering, which had always interested him, and married an American woman, whom he subsequently divorced. They had a son, Hume Horan, who later joined the U.S. Department of State and became a leading Arabist. Many years later, in Ordībehešt 1337 Š./April-May 1958, ʿAbd-Allāh married Faraḥ Anṣārī, granddaughter of ʿAlīqolī Anṣarī Mošāwer-al-Mamālek, to whom he was related. Her grandfather had been minister of foreign affairs several times.

A career diplomat, ʿAbd-Allāh served in various posts: from 1304 Š./1925 to 1306 Š./1927 he served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, and from 1312 Š./1933 to 1314 Š./1935 he worked in the Ministry’s press department. In 1315 Š./1936 he was appointed consul in Prague and in Ordībehešt 1317 Š./May 1938 chargé d’affaires in Bern. He also served as a member of Persia’s permanent delegation at the League of Nations in Geneva. In winter 1319 Š./1941 the Swiss press published articles critical of Reżā Shah, which resulted in his recall from Bern. Suspended for several months, he was then appointed head of the small and insignificant League of Nations section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ʿA. Enteẓām, p. 155).

Following the Allied occupation of Persia in Šahrīvar 1320 Š./August-September 1941, he was promoted to head the third political department (edāra-ye sevvom-e sīāsī) of the ministry and assigned the task of arranging for the expulsion of German and Italian citizens from the country. In Esfand 1324 Š./March 1946 Enteẓām was appointed counsel general in Stuttgart, and in Farvardīn 1330 Š./April 1951 he was recalled to join Ḥosayn ʿAlāʾ’s short-lived cabinet as minister of foreign affairs. He was appointed minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of General Fażl-Allāh Zāhedī in 1332 Š./1953, directly involving him in the delicate task of arranging the resumption of diplomatic relations with Britain, which had been severed on 30 Mehr 1331 Š./22 October 1952 by Moḥammad Moṣaddeq, and more significantly, in the settlement of the oil dispute. He retained his position and also acted as deputy prime minister in ʿAlāʾ’s second cabinet (Farvardīn 1334-Farvardīn 1336 Š./April 1955-April 1957). On 3 Day 1334 Š./24 December 1955, having spent some six months in Paris partly because of illness, he was replaced as minister of foreign affairs by ʿAlīqolī Ardalān but retained as deputy prime minister and minister without portfolio (wazīr-e mošāwer). The British ambassador to Tehran at the time described him as “a man of considerable imagination and ability,” whose “major contribution to recent Iranian foreign policy has been the attempt to settle outstanding differences and establish good relations with Iran’s geographical neighbours” (U.K., P.R.O., Stevens to Selwyn Lloyd, December 28, 1955, F.O. 371/114811). Enteẓām was not keen on Persia’s hasty adherence to the Baghdad Pact in October 1955, although in the ambassador’s view he “favoured adherence in principle” (ibid.).

Following the death in Ordībehešt 1336 Š./May 1957 of Mortażāqolī Bayāt, Enteẓām served as chairman of the board of directors and managing director (modīr-e ʿāmel) of the National Iranian Oil Company. In this capacity he promoted younger politicians, such as the future prime minister Amīr ʿAbbās Hoveydā (q.v.), whom he knew from his Stuttgart days. He employed him as his special assistant and later made him a member of the board of directors of the National Iranian Oil Company (Dānešjūyān, VII, p. 35). Enteẓām’s opposition to the pace and direction of royal reforms and to the growing royal autocracy, which he shared with ʿAlāʾ among others, resulted in his summary dismissal by the shah. His replacement in Ābān 1342 Š./November 1963 by Manūčehr Eqbāl (q.v.) was conducted in a manner he found deeply offensive. Ignored in official circles for fifteen years, Enteẓām returned briefly to the political scene after he was summoned by the shah in 1357 Š./ 1978. Enteẓām did not accept ministerial responsibility but was appointed a member of the ill-fated Regency Council (Šūrā-ye salṭanat).

ʿAbd-Allāh Enteẓām drew much pleasure from spending time in his engineering workshop and also enjoyed photography. Like his father, he was a Sufi and became the leading figure in the Anjoman-e oḵowwat (q.v.). He wrote anonymously or under a pseudonym on Sufism in both Persian and English. Untainted by corruption, he was, in the words of a British ambassador who knew him well, a “man of charm, modesty, and considerable ability, . . . spoke excellent English, French, and German, . . . shunned high society and lacked ambition but had a great capacity for friendship and was respected by all who knew him. The Shah would never have lost his throne had he listened to and made full use of men such as Abdullah Entezam” (Sir Denis Wright, The Times, 23 April 1983).

2. Naṣr-Allāh Enteẓām (Figure 2), also a diplomat and politician (b. in Tehran in 1278 Š./1899, d. 28 Āḏar 1359/18 December 1980). Like his elder brother, ʿAbd-Allāh, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon completion of his education at the German Technical School and the School of Political Science. He worked in the Persian embassy in Paris, as well as in Warsaw. In 1311 Š./1932 he returned to Persia to work in the treaty department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the Anglo-Persian oil dispute of 1311-12 Š./1932-33 (see ANGLO-IRANIAN OIL COMPANY) he served as secretary to the Persian delegation and accompanied ʿAlī-Akbar Dāvar and Ḥosayn ʿAlāʾ to Geneva to present the Persian case at the League of Nations. Subsequently, he served as a member of the Persian delegation to the World Economic Conference of 1933, worked in the Persian embassy in London, and over the next four years was chargé d’affaires in Bern and deputy head of the Persian delegation at the League of Nations (N. Enteẓām, p. 165). In Tīr 1317 Š./July 1938 he was appointed head of the third political department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this capacity he was described as “certainly the most effective [head] in recent years” (U.K., P.R.O., “Report on Personalities in Persia, 1940,” F.O. 371/24582). He was later appointed Chief of Protocol (raʾīs-e tašrīfāt) at the royal court.

Following the abdication and departure of Reżā Shah in Šahrīvar 1320 Š./September 1941 and until the appointment of Moḥammed-ʿAlī Forūḡī (q.v.) as court minister in Esfand 1320 Š./March 1942, Naṣr-Allāh was “fully in charge of the court” and developed close ties with Moḥammad-Reżā Shah (N. Enteẓām, p. 43). His ministerial career began in Bahman 1321 Š./January 1943 with an appointment as health minister (wazīr-e behdārī) in Aḥmad Qawām’s cabinet. Thereafter he successively served first as minister of post, telegraph, and telephones and as minister of roads in the second cabinet of ʿAlī Sohaylī (February 1943-March 1944). He owed his ministerial position to royal favor and to the desire of prime ministers to placate the shah (U.K., India Office, “Report on Political Events of 1943,” I.O.R. L/P&S/12/3472A). He was reappointed minister of roads and soon made minister of foreign affairs in Mortażāqolī Bayāt’s cabinet (November 1944-April 1945), but he resigned in March 1945, joining the Persian delegation at the San Francisco Conference, which established the United Nations. He served as a member and later head of the Persian delegation at the United Nations in New York. From 29 Ḵordād 1329 Š./19 June 1950 until 31 Šahrīvar 1331 Š./22 September 1952 he was Persian ambassador to the United States. He also served as the president of the fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. He was, however, eventually removed from his ambassadorial post in Washington, D.C., and replaced by Allāhyār Ṣāleḥ because he did not fully enjoy the confidence of then prime minister Moḥammad Moṣaddeq (Moṣaddeq, p. 84).

Following the coup of Mordād 1332/August 1953 (q.v.) he was reappointed ambassador to the United States and served until his replacement by the cabinet minister ʿAlī Amīnī, who was “lobbying a little too obviously for the premiership” (U.K., P.R.O., Titchener to Riches, 18 November 1955, F.O. 248/1557). In February 1958 Naṣr-Allāh was appointed ambassador to France, where he stayed until April 1962. In July 1962 he was appointed minister without portfolio in the cabinet of Asad-Allāh ʿAlam, with whom he had maintained close ties. He was elected chairman of the inaugural congress (10-12 Ordībehešt 1354 Š./30 April-2 May 1975) of the Resurgence party (Ḥezb-e rastāḵīz-e mellat-e Īrān), that the shah had created, as the single permissible party—a development interpreted as a sign of the declining power of ʿAlam’s rival, Prime Minister Hoveydā (Dānešjūyān, VII, p. 188).

According to a 1963 report by the United States embassy, the Enteẓām brothers were active members in an informal gathering (dawra), which was formed around ʿAlī Amīnī and met every Wednesday for over twelve years. Like other members of Amīnī’s dawra, the Enteẓām brothers were active participants in a number of other such gatherings (Dānešjūyān, XX, p. 17). The two brothers were, however, very different in character and disposition. The flamboyant and sartorially elegant bachelor, Naṣr-Allāh was also considered to be a capable official but devoid of those qualities which accounted for the prestige and respect accorded to his brother (see, e.g., Ḡanī, XI, p. 28).



J. ʿAbdoh, Čehel sāl dar ṣaḥnā-ye qażāʾī, sīāsī, dīplomāsī-e Īrān wa jahān, ed. M. Tafrešī, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

I. Afšār, Ḵāṭerāt wa asnād Ẓahīr-al-dawla, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972.

Dānešjūyān-e peyrow-e ḵaṭṭ-e emām, Asnād-e lāna-ye jāsūsī, Tehran, n.d.

ʿA. Enteẓām, “Gūša-ī az waqāyeʿ-e šahrīvar wa čegūnagī-e raftan-e atbāʿ-e Ālmān,” Sāl-nāma-ye donyā 19, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 155-58.

N. Enteẓām, Ḵāṭerāt-e Naṣr-Allāh Enteẓām, ed. M. R. ʿAbbās Ṭayarānī, Tehran, 1371 Š./1992.

Q. Ḡanī, Yāddāšthā-ye doktor Qāsem Ḡanī, ed. S. Ḡanī, 12 vols., London, 1980-84.

M. Katīrāʾī, Ferāmāsonerī dar Īrān, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968.

Ḡ.-Ḥ. Moṣaddeq, Dar kenār-e pedar-am: Ḵāṭerāt-e doktor Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Moṣaddeq, ed. Ḡ.-R. Najātī, Tehran, 1369 Š./1990.

E. Rāʾīn, Farāmūš-ḵānā wa ferāmāsonerī dar Īrān, 3 vols., Tehran, 1348 Š./1969.

United States Embassy, Tehran to Department of State, “The Iranian Intellectual Community, 21 December 1963,” text in Dānešjūyān, XX, pp. 2-26.

Idem, “The Iranian one-party state, 10 July 1957,” in ibid., VII, pp. 184-94.

D. Wright, “Abdullah Entezam,” The Times, April 23, 1983.

Interviews with members of the Enteẓām family, in particular with Mrs. Faraḥ Anṣārī.

(Fakhreddin Azimi)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: December 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 5, pp. 461-463