ḠĪĀṮ BEG (Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Tehrānī), ʿEʿTEMĀD-AL-DAWLA, prime minister of the Mughal emperor Jahāngīr and father of the emperor’s wife, Nūr Jahān. He was the younger of the two sons of Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad-Šarīf Hejrī, a poet and minister of Šaraf-al-Dīn Moḥammad Khan and his son Tātār Solṭān, the governor (beglarbegī) of Khorasan. Moḥammad-Šarīf later joined the court of Shah Ṭahmāsb, where he was first made minister of Yazd, Abarqūh, and Bīābānak for seven years and then minister of Isfahan, where he died in 984/1576-77. He belonged to a family of poets and high officials that included Amīn Rāzī, the author of Haft eqlīm. Ḡīāṯ Beg’s elder brother was the poet Moḥammad-Ṭāher Waṣlī (Ṣafā, Adabīyāt V, pp. 478-82).
After the death of his father, Ḡīāṯ Beg lost favor in the court of Isfahan, and together with his family moved to India. After a difficult journey, during which his daughter Nūr Jahān was born, he was received by the emperor Akbar at Fatḥpūr Sīkrī. He entered Akbar’s service and, at the time of Akbar’s death, had the rank of 700 and was in charge of the royal stores (dīvān-e boyūtāt). His wife, a daughter of a Safavid courtier, Mīrzā ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Āqā Mollā, introduced into India the method of extracting rose perfume (ʿaṭr-e jahāngīrī; Janāngīr, pp. 153-54).
When Jahāngīr ascended the throne (20 Jomādā II 1014/2 November 1605), he raised Ḡīāṯ Beg to the rank of 1,500 and appointed him vizier of half of the empire, with the title of Eʿtemād-al-Dawla (Jahāngīr, p. 14). A year later he was put in charge of Agra when Jahāngīr led a campaign against his rebellious son Ḵosrow. The struggle continued and in 1016/1607-8 Moḥammad-Šarīf, one of Ḡīāṯ Beg’s sons who had joined Ḵosrow, was put to death. This event coincided with the rebellion of Ḡīāṯ Beg’s son-in-law, Šīrafkan Khan ʿAlīqolī Ostajlū, the husband of Nūr Jahān (Jahāngīr, pp. 65-66; Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ, p. 129). Ḡīāṯ Beg himself escaped serious suspicion, although for the next four years his status in court did not improve.
Ḡīāṯ Beg’s fortune changed when in 1020/1611 Jahāngīr married his daughter Nūr Jahān, who, in the later years of Jahāngīr’s reign, became the de facto ruler of the empire (Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ, p. 132). After the wedding, Ḡīāṯ Beg was made the prime minister of the whole empire; he also received first the rank of 1,800, then 4,000 men and 3,000 horses, and in the Nowrūz of 1023/March-April 1614 of 5,000 men and 3,000 horses. A year later he had the rank of 6,000 men, when he was granted a standard and drums (ʿalam wa naqqāra), an honor reserved for high ranking princes (Jahāngīr, pp. 112, 114, 124, 148, 159).
Ḡīāṯ Beg died near Kangra in 1031/1622 as the royal camp was moving towards its summer quarters in Kashmir. His body was taken back to Agra, where he was buried on the bank of Yamuna river.
Ḡīāṯ Beg was known for his refined manners, his knowledge of literature, and his skill in calligraphy. In the words of Maʾāṯer al-omarā, “he was always conscious of the future, self composed, and did not harbour grudges even against his enemies. He was not at all oppressive, and in his household there were no fetters, chains, and whips, nor words of abuse” (p. 131). His sons Ebrāhīm Khan Fatḥ Jang, Eʿteqād Khan, and Abu’l-Ḥasan Āṣaf Khan achieved high ranks at the court of Shah Jahān, who was to marry Āṣaf Khan’s daughter, Momtāz Maḥall, immortalized by her tomb, the Tāj Maḥall.
Th. W. Beal, An Oriental Biographical Dictionary, rev. ed., London, 1894, pp. 185-86.
A. S. Bazmee Ansari, “Iʿtimād al-Dawla,” in EI2 IV, p. 282.
Nūr-al-Dīn Moḥammad Jahāngīr Gūrkānī, Jahāngīr-nāma, ed. M. Hāšem, Tehran, 1359 Š./1980.
Kāfī Khan, Montaḵab al-lobāb, ed. Mawlawī Kabīr-al-Dīn Aḥmad, Calcutta, 1869, pt. 1, pp. 264-71.
Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ I, pp. 127-39, 151-82.
Yūsof Aḥmad, Maẓāher-e šāh-jahānī, Karachi, 1962, preface.
On his tomb, see C. B. Asher, The New Cambridge History of India I/4: Architecture of Mughal India, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 130-35.
P. Brown, “Monuments of Mughal Architecture,” in Cambridge History of India IV, Cambridge, 1937, pp. 552-53.
Idem, Indian Architecture (Islamic Period), rev. ed. 1981, pp. 100-101.
G. Hambly, The Cities of Mughal India, London, 1968, pp. 73-74, 83-84.
S. M. Latif, Agra, Historical and Descriptive, Calcutta, 1869, pp. 182-84.
Originally Published: December 15, 2001
Last Updated: February 9, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 6, pp. 594-595
Mehrdad Shokoohy, “ḠĪĀṮ BEG, ʿEʿTEMĀD-AL-DAWLA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, X/6, pp. 594-595, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gia-beg- (accessed on 30 December 2012).