Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Great Grandfather "The Brave Sultan"

My Great Grandfather "The Brave Sultan"
(Shoja Sultan)
In order to preserve my family heritage as an Iranian-American Muslim, I think it is necessary for me to give credit to my ancestor who made it possible for me to be here.  His given name was Khan (Lord) Khalil Darvish of Mazandaran (Tabaristan), however he was better known as "Shoja Sultan" or "Brave Sultan" In the service of the Shah of Iran (Persia).  He commanded Persian Imperial troops during the Persian-Russian Wars of the early 1900's. His regiment consisted of 50 personal body guards (made up of mostly Muslims and Christians from Persian, Turkoman, Kurdish and Armenian stock who were mostly horsemen using muskets and sabres) and up to 10,000 Imperial Iranian levy troops. He received his title of "Shoja Sultan", which means "Brave Sultan", from the Shah of Iran because he had put down rebellions by northern Iranian cities (along the Caspian Sea) that were defecting towards the Communist Russians (Soviets). More specifically, his heroics were recorded for taking back an Iranian city that had fallen to the Soviets without using the Imperial levy that could not reach there in time and were needed elsewhere. Instead, taking initiative he took his 50 bodyguard and assaulted the city by placing one soldier on every major street to shoot in the air at a given time to make it appear that the city was surrounded by the Shah's Imperial levy (10,000 troops). Then he took his 5 elite personal body guards and proceeded to enter the Mayor's Mansion. The City Mayor refused to surrender and said in Persian "why don't you enter my rectum" (very vulger in Persian). Then my Great Grandfather proceeded to pull out his pistol and shot him where he had unknowingly requested with his own tongue. Then the city was his and the rest history...

Sadly, it is said that he met his demise at the hands of the very King he served.  Recalling family legend, it was said that the Shah's sychophants had found "The Brave Sultan" to be a liability to the throne due to his prowess in battle, politics, skills, and intelligence.  He had many alliances with both the Northern and Southern Persian lords (Khans).  They thought that he may eventually take the throne from the Shah himself.  Interestingly the two were from the same province and knew each other well.

The way he was "assassinated" relates to a family story in regards to when he was invited by the Shah to attend a gathering at the Palace, which he of course being a loyal Khan under the Shah, did not refuse.  Once he attended, it is said that his tea had been poisoned and later when he was rushed to the hospital, he was injected with an air syringe to finish him off.  As is the game of politics, one day the person who won back all the Persian lands from the invading Soviets and was given the title of "Brave Sultan" by the Shah himself, was later killed for the same purpose for being "too strong" and "too brave" and a threat to the very crown who titled him.  Some say that the Shah had knowledge of this action, others say he did not.  God knows best.

Noble and honorary titles in Persia (Iran)

Shoja Sultan with his Bodyguard & Cook
In imperial Persia, Khan (female form Khanum) was the title of a nobleman, higher than Beg (or bey) and usually used after the given name. At the Qajar court, precedence for those not belonging to the dynasty was mainly structured in eight classes, each being granted an honorary rank title, the fourth of which was Khan, or in this context synonymously Amir, granted to commanders of armed forces, provincial tribal leaders; in descending order, they thus ranked below Nawab (for princes), Shakhs-i-Awwal and Janab (both for high officials), but above 'Ali Jah Muqarrab, 'Ali Jah, 'Ali Sha'an (these three for lower military ranks and civil servants) and finally 'Ali Qadir (masters of guilds, etc.)

The titles Khan (the lowest commonly awarded) and Khan Bahadur (Altaic root baghatur, related to the Mongolic baatar 'brave, hero'; but in India meaning simply 'one class higher') were also bestowed in feudal India by the Great mughal (whose protocol was largely Persian-inspired) upon Muslims and Parsis, and later by the British Raj, as an honor akin to the ranks of nobility, often for loyalty to the crown. Khan Sahib was another title of honour, one degree higher than Khan, conferred on Muslims and Parsis; again like Khan Bahadur, it was also awarded with a decoration during British rule.

In the major South Asian Muslim state of Hyderabad, Khan was the lowest of the aristocratic titles bestowed by the ruling Nizam upon Muslim retainers, ranking under Khan Bahadur, Nawab (homonymous with a high Muslim ruler's title), Jang, Daula, Mulk, Umara, Jah. The equivalent for the courts Hindu retainers was Rai.

In Swat, a Pakistani Frontier State, it was the title of the secular elite, who, together with the Mullahs (Muslim clerics), proceeded to elect a new Amir-i-Shariyat in 1914.

It seems unclear whether the series of titles known from the Bengal sultanate, including Khan, Khan ul Muazzam, Khan-ul-Azam, Khan-ul-Azam-ul-Muazzam etc. and Khaqan, Khaqan-ul-Muazzam, Khaqan-ul-Azam, Khaqan-ul-Azam-ul-Muazzam etc., are merely honorific or perhaps relate to a military hierarchy.

Iran History from 1900-1978

Shoja Sultan was also a part of the Constitutionalist Movement of Iran:

Ref: Wikipedia

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