List of heads of state of Iran

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This article lists the heads of state of Iran since establishment of the Iran's modern Nation-State [1] on 1501 AD.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital, largest city, and leading economic and cultural center.

Nation state Political term for a state that is based around a nation

A nation state is a state in which the great majority shares the same culture and is conscious of it. The nation state is an ideal in which cultural boundaries match up with political ones. According to one definition, "a nation state is a sovereign state of which most of its subjects are united also by factors which defined a nation such as language or common descent." It is a more precise concept than "country", since a country does not need to have a predominant ethnic group.


Heads of State of Iran

The Expansive Realm of Iran (1501–1736)

Safavid dynasty

No.NameBirth–DeathReign startReign endDynasty
Shah of Persia
1 Shah Ismail I Shah Ismail I.jpg 1487–1524July 1501 [lower-alpha 1] 23 May 1524 Safavi
2 Shah Tahmasp I Shah Tahmasp.jpg 1514–157623 May 152414 May 1576Safavi
3 Shah Ismail II Shah Ismayil II.jpg 1537–157723 May 157624 November 1577Safavi
4 Shah Mohammad Khodabanda Shah Mohammad Khodabanda- Sahand Ace.jpg 1532–1595/9611 February 15781 October 1588Safavi
5 Shah Abbas I Portraits du schah de Perse Abbas Ier (1571-1629).JPG 1571–16291 October 158819 January 1629Safavi
6 Shah Safi Shah Safi I of Persia on Horseback Carrying a Mace- Sahand Ace.png 1611–164228 January 162912 May 1642Safavi
7 Shah Abbas II Abbas II of Persia.jpg 1632–166612 May 164225 September 1666Safavi
8 Shah Suleiman I Shah Suleiman.jpg 1648–16941 November 166629 July 1694Safavi
9 Shah Sultan Husayn Sultan Husayn by Bruyn.jpg 1668–17266 August 169423 October 1722   White flag icon.svg Safavi

Ghilji rebellion

10 Mahmud Shah SHAH-MAHMUD-HOTAK.jpg 1699–172523 October 172225 April 1725 Hotak
11 Ashraf Shah Ashraf Shah Hotaki 1725-1729.jpg 1700–173026 April 172513 November 1729Hotak

Safavid restoration

12 Shah Tahmasp II No portrait.svg 1704–174010 November 17222 September 1732Safavi
He was crowned on 9 December 1729 after liberation of the Safavid Capital.
Reigned at exile:
13 Shah Abbas III No portrait.svg 1732–17402 September 17328 March 1736Safavi

Realm of Iran (1736–1796)

Afsharid dynasty

14 Nader Shah NaderShahPainting.png 1688–17478 March 173620 June 1747 Afshar
15 Adil Shah No portrait.svg 1719–17496 July 174729 September 1748Afshar
16 Ebrahim Shah No portrait.svg 1724–174929 September 1748May 1749Afshar
17 Shahrokh Shah No portrait.svg 1734–1796May 174930 December 1749Afshar
Proclaimed as Shah at 30 September 1748 and one day later crowned at Mashhad.

Second Safavid restoration

18 Suleiman II No portrait.svg 1714–176313 January 175020 March 1750Safavi
Proclaimed after deposing and blinding of Shahrokh Shah and crowned at 14 January 1750.
19 Ismail III No portrait.svg 1733–177329 June 17501773Safavi
He was a Puppet ruler who raised to the throne by Ali Mardan Khan Bakhtiari and Karim Khan Zand as a front to legitimize their rule. [7]

Afsharid restoration

(17)Shahrokh Shah No portrait.svg 1734–17969 May 175514 May 1796Afshar

Zand dynasty

Wakil-al Raʿāyā
20 Karim Khan Karim Khan painting by Muhammad Sadiq.jpg 1705–177917731 March 1779 Zand
21 Abol-Fath Khan No portrait.svg 1755–17876 March 1779May/June 1779Zand
He and his younger brother Mohammad Ali Khan were Co-rulers.
22 Mohammad Ali Khan No portrait.svg 1760–17796 March 177919 June 1779Zand
He and his elder brother Abol-Fath Khan were Co-rulers until May/June 1779.
(21)Abol-Fath Khan No portrait.svg 1755–178719 June 177922 August 1779Zand
23 Sadeq Khan Image of sadiq khan zand.png ?–178122 August 177914 March 1781Zand
24 Ali-Morad Khan Ali Murad Khan Zand.png ?–178515 March 178111 February 1785Zand
Bagher Shah No portrait.svg ?–178612 February 178517 February 1785   White flag icon.svg N/A
After the death of Ali-Morad Khan, Bagher Khan Khorasgani Governor of Isfahan proclaimed himself as Shah and mentioned himself in the Khutbah and on coins. He was defeated from the corps of Jafar Khan. [9]
25 Jafar Khan Ja`far Khan.png 1766–179418 February 178523 January 1789Zand
26 Seyd Morad Khan Sayed Murad Zand.png 1766–179423 January 178910 May 1789Zand
27 Lotf Ali Khan Lotf Ali Khan Zand.jpg 1766–179410 May 178920 March 1794Zand
Shah of Iran
(27)Lotf Ali Shah Lotf Ali Khan Zand.jpg 1766–179421 March 179430 October 1794Zand

Sublime State of Persia (1796–1925)

28 Agha Mohammad Shah Aggha Mohammad Khan.jpg 1742–179714 May 179617 June 1797 Qajar
Agha Mohammad decided to move his capital to the small town of Tehran on 1786. [10] He was formally crowned as Shah on spring 1796 at the Mugan plain, on his return after the conquest of Tbilisi. [11] [12]
29 Fath-Ali Shah Brooklyn Museum - Portrait of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar - Mihr 'Ali.jpg 1772–183417 June 179723 October 1834Qajar
30 Mohammad Shah Mohammadshah.jpg 1808–18489 November 18345 September 1848Qajar
31 Naser al-Din Shah Naser edin shah by Kamalolmolk.jpg 1831–189613 September 18481 May 1896Qajar
Queen-mother Mahd-e Olia: 5 September 1848 – 1 October 1848.
32 Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Portrait of Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar by Kamal-ol-molk, 1902.jpg 1853–19072 May 18968 January 1907Qajar
33 Mohammad Ali Shah Mohammad Ali Shah.jpg 1872–19258 January 1907 16 July 1909   White flag icon.svg Qajar
34 Ahmad Shah AhmadShahQajar2.jpg 1898–193016 July 190931 October 1925Qajar
Reigned in exile: from 2 December 1923

Imperial State of Iran (1925–1979)

No.NameBirth–DeathTook officeLeft officePolitical Affiliation
Provisional Head of State
35 Reza Khan Antoin Sevruguin 48 12 SI.jpg 1878–1944 31 October 1925 15 December 1925 Military
No.NameBirth–DeathTook officeLeft officeDynasty
Shah of Iran
(35)Reza Shah Reza Shah portrait.jpg 1878–1944 15 December 1925 16 September 1941   White flag icon.svg Pahlavi
36 Mohammad Reza Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1973.jpg 1919–198016 September 1941 11 February 1979 Pahlavi
Reigned in exile:
No.NameBirth–DeathTook officeLeft officePolitical Affiliation

Islamic Republic of Iran (1979–present)

Leader of the Revolution
37 Ruhollah Khomeini `khsy z khmyny.JPG 1902–1989 5 February 1979 3 December 1979Independent
Supreme Leader of Iran
(37)Ruhollah Khomeini Ruhollah Khomeinii.jpg 1902–1989 3 December 1979 3 June 1989 Independent
38 Ali Khamenei Ali Khamenei crop.jpg 1939– 4 June 1989 IncumbentIndependent [lower-alpha 2]

Graphical timeline of overlaps


Timeline of heads of state of Iran at 75 years of unstable governments (17221796)

Siege of Isfahan

The siege of Isfahan was a six-month-long siege of Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid dynasty of Iran, by the Hotaki-led Afghan army. It lasted from March to October 1722 and resulted in the city's fall and the beginning of the end of the Safavid dynasty.

The Persian Expedition of Catherine the Great, alongside the Persian Expedition of Peter the Great, was one of the Russo-Persian Wars of the 18th century which did not entail any lasting consequences for either belligerent.

See also


  1. Is equivalent to Muharram 907 AH .
  2. Resigned from Combatant Clergy Association after selection as Supreme Leader. [15]

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  1. Mikaberidze 2011, p. 432.
  2. 1 2 3 Potts 2014, p. 230: "During the first nine years of his reign Shah Tahmasp was advised, in succession, by a Rumlu regent (Div Sultan Rumlu); a Triumvirate including a Takkalu (Chuha Soltan Takkalu) and an Ustajlu (Köpek Sultan Ustajlu) chief; a Takkalu (Chuha Sultan) who distributed land widely to members of his own tribe during his four years in office and was ruler of Iran in all but name; and a Shamlu (Husayn Khan Shamlu) who held his post for three years before being put to death in 1533 in alleged complicity with the Ottoman regime."
  3. Mitchell 2009: "Ṭahmāsp's puppet status continued with his accession to the throne on 23 May 1524, and the self-appointed status of Div Solṭān Rumlu as the Shah's Vicegerent and the Empire's De facto ruler.."
  4. Savory 1995: "Dīv Solṭān, by virtue of a testamentory disposition of the late Shah, retained the office of Amīr al-Omarā and was made Atābeg (Guardian) of the young prince Ṭahmāsb, who succeeded his father at the age of ten and a half. Dīv Solṭān thus became the De Facto ruler of the state... After a period of negotiation, a Triumvirate was formed consisting of Dīv Solṭān Rūmlū, Čūha Solṭān Takkalū, and Kopek Ostājlū, but civil war broke out between rival Qezelbāš factions in 932 AH / 1526 AD. Kopek Solṭān was killed in 933 AH / 1526–27 AD, and Čūha Solṭān succeeded in persuading Shah Ṭahmāsb that Dīv Solṭān was the cause of the discord."
  5. Savory 2004: "Ḥosayn Khan, however, did not draw the obvious conclusions from the fate of Čuha Sultan, but proceeded to repeat the latter's mistakes, appointing members of the Šāmlu tribe to provincial governorships and fatally underestimating the Shah's new determination to rule De facto as well as De jure."
  6. Savory 1982: "After the deposition of his father by Nāder Khan Afšār in Rabīʿ I 1145 AH / August 1732 AD, the eight-month-old Abbas was invested as ʿAbbās III on 7 September 1732. Nader Khan, who was the real ruler of the country, dropped his own now obviously inappropriate style of Ṭahmāsp-qolī Khan and assumed the titles of Vakīl -Al-dawla (Deputy of the state) and Nāʾeb-al-salṭana (Viceroy)."
  7. 1 2 Perry 1998.
  8. Perry 1991, pp. 68: "The early months of 1751 thus mark the beginning of Karim Khan's rule as Viceroy of the nominal King Ismaʿil III, a position to be hotly disputed for twelve more years but never wrested from him."
  9. Bamdad 2005, p. 177.
  10. Gharipour 2012, p. 204.
  11. Axworthy 2008, p. 192.
  12. Hambly 1963, p. 169.
  13. Mahbubi Ardakani 1988: "After the deposition of Mohammad Ali Shah on 16 July 1909, a regent had to be appointed because Ahmad Shah was a Minor. The choice fell on ʿAżod-al-molk. As a senior dignitary and the chief of the Qajar tribe, he enjoyed the respect of the constitutionalists and was in good relationship with the olamā . He served as regent for one year and three months until his death."
  14. Bakhash 2015: "Citing the disordered state of affairs in Iran, the divisions in parliament, the lack of parliamentary unanimity over his own election, he left France for Iran only in December, arriving home two months later. He did not take the Oath of office until March 1911."
  15. "جامعه روحانيت مبارز جوان مي‌شود" [Combatant Clergy Association gets younger] (in Persian). Fararu. 8 July 2012. 118101. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.


Michael George Andrew AxworthyFRSA, FRAS was a British academic, author, and commentator. He was the head of the Iran section at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office between 1998–2000.

Penguin Books British publishing house

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