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Mirza Malkom Khan

Mirza Malkam Khan (1833-1908), also spelled as Malkom Khan, was an Iranian proponent of Freemasonry active during the period leading up to the Iranian Constitutional Revolution. A believer in Social Darwinism, Malkom Khan espoused an Iran modeled on the values of the enlightenment and urged a return to a "Persian" heritage.

Khan was born to an Armenian Christian family in Persia[1] and educated at the Samuel Muradian school in Paris from 1843–51. He later returned to Persia, converted to Shia Islam, and entered government service. He was elected as instructor at the newly established Tehran Polytechnic, Dar ul-Funun, in 1852. He went to Paris in the diplomatic service in 1857.[2]

Malkom Khan introduced Freemasonry in Persia in 1859, and was exiled by Nasser ad-Din Shah for doing so in 1862. He was later pardoned and given a post at the embassy in Constantinople. He returned to Tehran in 1872 as assistant to Grand Vizier Mirza Hasan Khan Pirnia, Moshir ad-Douleh, and became the chief of the Persian legation in London (and later ambassador) in 1872. He remained in the position until 1888, and lost his position in 1889 as the result of a scandal over selling a cancelled concession for a lottery.[3]

From London, Khan attacked both the shah and Persian government, and edited the news-sheet Qanun, which was banned in Persia but read by the shah and his ministers. Khan eventually became recognised as the most important Persian moderniser of the century, and he was later pardoned and reinstated as ambassador to Italy by Mozaffar ad-Din Shah in 1898 with the title of Nezam od-Dowlah. He remained ambassador to Italy until his death in 1908.[4]


  1. ^ Lloyd Ridgeon, Religion and Politics in Modern Iran (I.B.Tauris, 2005), ISBN 1845110722. p. 14.
  2. ^ Nikki R. Keddie, with a section by Yann Richard, Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006), ISBN 0-300-12105-9. pp. 431-32.
  3. ^ Nikki R. Keddie, ibid., pp. 431-32.
  4. ^ Nikki R. Keddie, ibid., pp. 431-32.

Further reading

  • Mehrdad Kia, Pan-Islamism in Late Nineteenth-Century Iran, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 30-52 (1996).


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