Ismaili History 749 - ABUL HASAN ALI (1143-1206/1730-1792)
Abul Hasan Ali was also known as Sayed Shah Muhammad Hasan Shah, Hasan Beg and Abul Hasan Ali Shah. He was born in Shahr-i Babak in Kirman. The Iranian sources named him, Abul Hasan Kaheki, a name mostly was popular among the inhabitants of Kahek, whom he generously helped for about two times. One of the ways he utalised his wealth was to serve delicious dishes strewn with ample varities of food to the hungry and needy while he himself would seldom taste it.
Abul Hasan was the governor of Kirman during the Afsharid and Zand periods. It seems almost appropriate to mention that Abul Hasan Ali was the first Ismaili Imam after the fall of Alamut in emerging slowly from obscurity. He was highly learned and a friend of the local Sufis. He had also patronized the local artists. Few chambers of the Imam's residence are reported to have been decorated with the rare collection of the Iranian paintings.
He was a prominent land-owner (Sahib amlak wa raqabat) in Kirman. According to 'Athar-i Muhammadi' (p. 70), 'When the Afghans had launched terrible raids in Iran, Imam Abul Hasan Ali had laid the foundation of a strong edifice of the fort in Kiab on the shore of Hibala and Depine, lying between Rugan and Jinjan, where he lodged after its completion.'
The rise of the Afsharids in Iran
Nadir, the last great Asiatic conqueror was born in 1102/1688 in Afshar tribe of Khorasan. The word afshar (derived from Turkish awshar) means 'one who promptly finishes an affair.' He was the son of a certain Imam Quli, and was tending flocks after his father's death. He and his mother were carried off by a raiding band of Uzbek of Khiva in 1114/1702, where four years later, his mother died in slavery. Nadir escaped and returned to Khorasan, and became a leader of the plundering band. He entered into the service of Baba Ali Beg, the chief of Abivard, and married to his daughter. After the death of Baba Ali Beg, Nadir became the chief of Abivard. In 1138/1726, the Safavid Shah Tahmasp II learnt his valour, and acquired his help to repel the Gilzay Afghans from Iran. Nadir readily responded the call and came with his troop of 5000 Kurd and Afshar warriors. He was hailed and honored, and was granted the title of Tahmasp Quli Khan. Nadir took field against the Gilzay Afghans by commanding the Safavid army, and inflicted them a defeat. Shah Tahmasp II rejoiced on Nadir's role, and appointed him a chief commander (qurchi-bashi). In 1144/1732, Nadir deposed Shah Tahmasp II and crowned the latter's son Shah Abbas III. In 1148/1736, Nadir also deposed Shah Abbas III, and assumed the power, and thus he got the declination of the Safavid empire. He established the Afsharid rule in Iran, and fought with the Afghans and dominated Iran like Taymurlame. He also fought with the Turks and captured Iraq and Azerbaijan. Nadir was a brave and so was cruel and fierce like Chinghiz Khan and Taymurlame. Sayyid Athar Abbas Rizvi writes in 'A Socio-Intellectual History of the Isna Ashari' (Lucknow, 1986, 2nd vol., p. 51) that, 'Nadir Shah, as a fierce fighter and ruthless restorer of law and order, can be compared with Jinghiz and Timur.'
It appears that Abul Hasan Ali had also maintained his best of ties with Nadir, and the seat of his governorship in Kirman coming from the period of the Safavids, remained intact during the Afsharid rule. When Nadir had been in Kirman in 1160/1747, according to 'Athar-i Muhammadi' (p. 73), 'Imam invited him at his residence and presented many valuable gifts.' After Nadir, his successor Shah Rukh also retained his relation with Imam. John R. Perry writes in 'Karim Khan Zand' (Chicago, 1979, pp. 135-6) that, 'Abu'l-Hasan enjoyed the respect of all the leading citizens and even the provincial warlords and would seem the perfect choice for beglerbegi (governor-general) now that Kirman was relatively settled. On his appointment, therefore, Mirza Hosayn, Mortaza Qoli Khan, and the other local rulers meekly handed over their provinces to him. No details of his administration are recorded; he probably re-allocated the regions to several local khans and used his moral rather than military authority to check injustice. He remained on good terms with the leading men of the bureaucratic class, consulting them readily in matters of government.' John R. Perry also adds, 'After Nader's death, Sayyed Abu'l Hasan took a winter residence in Kirman itself, retaining his house at Babak for the summer. Shahrokh Khan accorded him great respect, even marrying his son Lotf Ali Khan to the Sayyed's (Imam's) daughter.' (Ibid. p. 135)
Nadir, as previously stated, was a fierce ruler, grinding the people in the millstone of cruelty, which can be judged from his massacres in Kirman in 1160/1747. L. Lockhart writes in 'Nadir Shah' (London, 1938, p. 259) that, 'On 10th Moharram, 1160/ January 23, 1747, Nadir left Ispahan for Yazd and Kirman; wherever he halted, he had many people tortured and put to death, and had towers of their heads erected. He was particularly severe in Kirman, because of the revolt that had occurred there in the previous summer. Captain Passiet, a member of Prince Mikhail Mikhailvich Golitzin's mission to Persia, who had travelled on in advance and was in Kirman at that time, saw two lofty towers of heads there.'