Encyclopedia of Female Islamic Saints

MARYĀM KHATŪN †

Maryām Khatūn (1744–1832) was the wife of the 45th Nizari Isma‘ili Imam, Shāh Khalīl Allāh III, and an Isma‘ili pīr, or preacher representative of the Imam. She was the daughter of Khalīl Allāh’s uncle Pīr Muḥammad Mīrzā Baqīr and mothered her husband’s successor, Ḥasan Āli Shah, Agha Khān I. After her husband was murdered at the behest of a Twelver Shi‘ah mob’s raid on his home in 1817, Maryam successfully appealed to the Qajar shah, Fatḥ ‘Alī, to try the scholar who incited the riot in court, as the Imam was on good terms with the shah. The Isma‘ili community met further trouble, however, when wealthy dissident members of the Indian community refused to pay dasond (zakāh or tithe) forcing others to. In response, Ḥasan ‘Alī Shāh sent this mother and Mīrzā Abū al-Qasīm as pīrs to settle the matter in 1829, as Maryām was known for being a skilled speaker. There, she settled in Kera, Kutch, where she died in 1832. Admired in her life, she was also known as Bībī Sarkār, “Governess,” and her son bequeathed to her the title Mātā Salāmat, “Mother of Peace,” when he sent her to India, and it became a title of high regard for consorts of the Imam in the future. Although she was subsequently buried beside her husband in his mausoleum in Najaf, Iraq, her memorial remains in Kera, and when her grandson Imām Sulṭān Muḥammad Shāh visited Kera in 1903, he encouraged Isma‘ilis to remember her at her place of passing.

Not necessarily considered a saint.

West AsiaIsma‘iliImami Shi‘iMysticMissionaryScholar.