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Aqasi as painted by <a href="/content/Sani_ol_molk" style="color:blue">Sani ol molk</a>, 1846.
Aqasi as painted by Sani ol molk, 1846.

Haji Mirza Akasi or Aghasi (Persian: حاج میرزا آقاسی‎), sometimes known as Haji-Mollah Abbas Iravani, was the Sadr-e Azam (equivalent to prime minister) of Qajar Iran between 1835-1848, during the reign of king Mohammad Shah Qajar.

Biography


Aqasi was born and brought up in Maku to a certain Moslem ibn Abbas, a "petty" Mollah landowner of the city of Īravān (Yerevan), then still part of Iran, and a member of the Bayat clan.[2][3]

Mirza Akasi initiated Mohammad Shah into Sufi mysticism, and the two men "came to be known as two 'dervishes'."[4] While he has often been criticized for contributing to the disasters of the reign, it is possible that he was attempting to use Sufism as a weapon against the growing hold of the official representatives of religion, the mullahs, who were opposing both modernization and foreign influence.

In foreign affairs, he managed to "prevent Iran disintegrating either into autonomous principalities or appanages of Russia, and Britain, " and internally he "revived the cultivation of the mulberry tree in the Kerman region, to feed silkworms; and he envisaged the diversion of the waters of the River Karaj for Tehran's water-supply."[5]

The failure of Haji Mirza Akasi's countrymen to praise him for his enterprise was partly no doubt due to an equally shrewd appreciation on their part that new economic alignments emerging during his period as Prime Minister were not destined to enrich the people, but only to make a rapacious aristocracy more powerful, while the situation of the cultivator became little better than slavery.[6] Shoghi Effendi, head of the Bahá'í Faith in the first half of the 20th century, described Haji Mirza Aqasi as "the Antichrist of the Bábí Revelation."[7]

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