Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Aʿlāhazrat Homāyuni Ŝāhanŝāh Āryāmehr
Preceded by Reza Shah
Succeeded by Monarchy abolished
Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader

Born 26 October 1919(1919-10-26)
Tehran, Persia
Died 27 July 1980 (aged 60)
Cairo, Egypt
Spouse Template:Marriage
Religion Shia Islam
Signature Mohammadreza pahlavi signature

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا پهلوی, Template:IPA-fa; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980),[1] also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (محمدرضاشاه Mohamad Rezā Ŝāh), was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah ("King of Kings")[2] on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr ("Light of the Aryans") and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" (Persian: تمدن بزرگ) in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.[3]

Mohammad Reza came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi. During Mohammad Reza's reign, the Iranian oil industry was briefly nationalised, under Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, until a US and UK-backed coup d'état deposed Mosaddegh and brought back foreign oil firms.[4] Under Mohammad Reza's reign, Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchy since the founding of the Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great – concurrent with this celebration, Mohammad Reza changed the benchmark of the Iranian calendar from the hegira to the beginning of the First Persian Empire, measured from Cyrus the Great's coronation.[5] Mohammad Reza also introduced the White Revolution, a series of economic, social and political reforms with the proclaimed intention of transforming Iran into a global power and modernising the nation by nationalising certain industries and granting women suffrage.

Mohammad Reza gradually lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran as well as the working class, particularly due to his strong policy of modernisation, laïcité, conflict with the traditional class of merchants known as bazaari, relations with Israel, and corruption issues surrounding himself, his family, and the ruling elite. Various additional controversial policies were enacted, including the banning of the communist Tudeh Party and a general suppression of political dissent by Iran's intelligence agency, SAVAK. According to official statistics, Iran had as many as 2,200 political prisoners in 1978, a number which multiplied rapidly as a result of the revolution.[6]

Several other factors contributed to strong opposition to the Shah amongst certain groups within Iran, the most significant of which were US and UK support for his regime, and clashes with leftists and Islamists. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which, on 17 January, forced him to leave Iran. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini. Facing likely execution should he return to Iran, he died in exile in Egypt, whose president, Anwar Sadat, had granted him asylum. Due to his status as the last Shah of Iran, he is often known as simply "The Shah".

Early lifeEdit

Born in Tehran, to Reza Khan (later Reza Shah Pahlavi) and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk, Mohammad Reza was the eldest son of Reza Khan, who later became the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty, and the third of his eleven children. His father, a former Brigadier-General of the Persian Cossack Brigade, was of Mazandarani and Georgian origin.[7] His father was born in Alasht, Savadkuh County, Māzandarān Province. Mohammad Reza's paternal grandmother, Noush-Afarin, was a Muslim immigrant from Georgia (then part of the Russian Empire),[8][9] whose family had emigrated to mainland Iran after Iran was forced to cede all of its territories in the Caucasus following the Russo-Persian Wars several decades prior to Reza Khan's birth.[10] Mohammad Reza's mother, Tadj ol-Molouk, was of Azerbaijani origin, being born in Baku, Russian Empire (now Azerbaijan).

Mohammad Reza was born along with his twin sister, Ashraf. However, Shams, Mohammad Reza, Ashraf, Ali Reza, and their older half-sister, Fatimeh, were not royalty by birth, as their father did not become Shah until 1925. Nevertheless, Reza Khan was always convinced that his sudden quirk of good fortune had commenced in 1919 with the birth of his son who was dubbed khoshghadam (bird of good omen).[11] Like most Iranians at the time, Reza Khan did not have a surname and after the 1921 Persian coup d'état which deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, he was informed that he would need a name for his house. This led Reza Khan to pass a law ordering all Iranians to take a surname; he chose for himself the surname Pahlavi, which is the name for Middle Persian (language) that itself is derived from Old Persian.[12] At his father's coronation on 24 April 1926, Mohammad Reza was proclaimed Crown Prince.[13][14]


مراسم تشييع جنازه محمدرضا پهلوي

Funeral of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Mohammad Reza died from complications of Waldenström's macroglobulinemia on 27 July 1980, aged 60. Egyptian President Sadat gave the Shah a state funeral.[15] In addition to members of the Pahlavi family, Anwar Sadat, Richard Nixon and Constantine II of Greece attended the funeral ceremony in Cairo.[16]

Mohammad Reza is buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, a mosque of great symbolic importance. Also buried there is Farouk of Egypt, Mohammad Reza's former brother-in-law. The tombs lie to the left of the entrance. Years earlier, his father and predecessor, Reza Shah had also initially been buried at the Al Rifa'i Mosque.


  1. "Historic Personalities of Iran: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi". Retrieved on 19 February 2017. 
  2. D. N. MacKenzie. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Routledge Curzon, 2005.
  3. M. Mo'in. An Intermediate Persian Dictionary. Six Volumes. Amir Kabir Publications, 1992.
  4. All the Shah's Men, Stephen Kinzer, pp. 195–196.
  5. "The Iranian History Article :Iran Switches To Imperial Calendar". 
  6. Amnesty International Report 1978 Template:Webarchive. Amnesty International. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  7. Gholam Reza Afkhami (27 October 2008). The Life and Times of the Shah. University of California Press. p. 4. Template:ISBN. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  8. Afkhami, Gholam Reza (2009). The Life and Times of the Shah. University of California Press. p. 4. ""(..) His mother, who was of Georgian origin, died not long after, leaving Reza in her brother's care in Tehran. (...)."" 
  9. Haddad-Adel, Gholam-Ali (2012). The Pahlavi Dynasty: An Entry from Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. EWI Press. p. 3. ""(..) His mother, Nush Afarin, was a Georgian Muslim immigrant (...)."" 
  10. Homa Katouzian. "State and Society in Iran: The Eclipse of the Qajars and the Emergence of the Pahlavis" I.B.Tauris, 2006. Template:ISBN p 269
  11. Fereydoun Hoveyda, The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution (Westport: Praeger, 2003) p. 5; and Ali Dashti, Panjah va Panj ("Fifty Five") (Los Angeles: Dehkhoda, 1381) p. 13
  12. Milani, Abbas The Shah, London: Macmillan 2011 page 25.
  13. Inlow, E. Burke (1979). Shahanshah: The Study Of Monarachy Of Iran. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.. p. 90. ISBN 9788120822924. 
  14. Milani, Abbas The Shah, London: Macmillan, 2011 page 25.
  15. Shah's Flight. Time. 31 March 1980
  16. "SOMEONE ELSE'S PROBLEM". The New York Times. 6 November 1988. 
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