The story goes that when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he specifically forbade the arrest and killing of three people. The first name on his wish list was Abdullah Entezam, not that he was shy to murder any opponent, but because Entezam was so much revered and respected that he feared his fragile coalition might be fractured in the stormy early days of the revolution. His stance on making sure Khomieni was not executed and rather exiled for his 1943 uprisings in Qom, was sure to have an effect on Khomeini’s thinking. The Shah offered Entezam the position of the Prime Minister twice. First in the mid 1950s before selecting Hassan Ali Mansour, and the second time, as his first choice, when the military government of General Azhari abruptly resigned in Nov of 1979. Such was the reputation and prestige of the man, who two opposing figures and two diametrically different regimes sought his council and respect. Not since the death of Zoka Ol Molk Foroughi had anyone so much clout and influence on the Shah as an elder statemen and mentor as Entezam did. Never did anyone after Entezam held that close a relationship and clout on the Monarch.
Entezam was also appointed by the Shah, right before his departure, as the member of the 9 man Regency Council (shorayeh Saltanat). in effect to rule the country in his absence.
Abdullah Entezam (Entezam Saltaneh), was one of the most prolific politicians/diplomats of Iran’s 20th Century. A diplomat of sterling reputation. He was a close confidant of the His Majesty Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi. His career spanned 5 decades in many Ambassadorial and cabinet positions, such as the Charge D’affaries in Berlin while Nazi’s were in power, later ambassador after WWII. Economic Attache with Ambassador Sardari (Persian Schindler} who moved the Iranian Embassy from Paris to Vichy. Member of delegation to create the League of Nations. Secretary of the Iranian legation to the US in the early 1920’s when Woodrow Wilson was in the white house. He became the most popular and effective Chairman of the National Iranian Oil Company in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Only to be sidelined by the Shah for his frank and direct remarks to the sovereign. He was known to speak his mind freely with the monarch. It is said, after Zoka Ol Molk Forough Abdullah was the only elder statesman who played the role of the elder statement and a mentor to the Shah. A role Abdullah took seriously and stayed loyal to the soveriegn even after his dismissal from government jobs. During the heyday of the 1979 revolution he was asked by the Monarch to take the helm of he country by becoming the Prime Minister, which he refused. But once more took over the helm of the National Iranian Oil Company and was successful in quieting the riots, restoring order. Abdullah was among a group of politician who in 1962 urged the Shah not to kill Khomeini but to exile him. That, in retrospect probably was his worst frank request of the monarch.
While in the US in the early 20’s he met and married his first wife, Mary Robinson Hume, daughter of the Mayor of Georgetown and grand daughter of the diplomat in Abraham Lincoln’s administration. They had two children Lily and Hume. Hume went on to become the famous Arabists in the state Department. Rising to become the Ambassador to the Saudi Arabia in the mid 1980’s. Hume was nicknamed “Hume of Arabia” by his colleagues for his deep knowledge and respect he had in that part of the world. His deep knowledge got him selected to become Paul “Jerry” Bremmer’s right hand man in rebuilding Iraq after the second Iraq war, in the provisional authority.
His grandson is a deputy director of FBI and his granddaughter the Acting Deputy Secretary for the African Affairs at the State Department.
Abdullah was a freemason, Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Iran, a sufi and a Dervish. He has left numerous articles and books on Sufism. He is considered the pre-eminent Sufi leader and perhaps one of only in the 20th Century.
Patronage and freemasonry
According to Abbas Milani‘s book The Persian Sphinx, he was the mentor of the Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveida who referred to him as arbab (the boss).
Milani said in The Persian Sphinx (page 115):
“In the mid-1950s when the Shah began to demand absolute obedience from all those around him, and as a token of this submission expected everyone to kiss the royal hand at each audience, Entezam was one of very few people in government who refused to comply.”
He was also a Freemason, and in 1960, apparently at his behest, Hoveida (spelt Hoveyda by Milani) joined the Foroughi Lodge, newly created in 1960 with Entezam as its grand master.
In Ismail Raeen’s (also spelt Ra’in) book on Freemasonry in Iran, Faramooshkhaneh va Faramasonery dar Iran Vol3, p505, Hoveida is listed as a Freemason and Entezam as the grand master of the Independent Grand Lodge of Iran.
In Religion and politics in modern Iran : a reader, Lloyd V J Ridgeon on p. 150 states that “several Masonic Iranian Lodges connected to the United Grand Lodges of Germany operated from the premises of the Safi Ali Shahi Brotherhood Society in Tehran and Entezam had been a founder member in Tehran since 1960 of one of these, the Mehr Lodge and also guided another, the Safa Lodge, which had been established in 1962 “.
According to Alaeddin Rouhani, Masonic lodges connected to Germany were set up in Iran after WWII because they were not tainted with a history of colonialism and imperialism like the British lodges.
According to Mahmoud Tolooie “although Entezam was a founder member of these Iranian lodges, he gave up on them after the death of Seyed Hassan Taghizadeh in 1970 and did not attend their meetings anymore”.
Upon the death of his father he became the leader of the Safi Ali Shahi order of dervishes in Iran.
A New Perspective on Mysticism and Sufism: Abdollah Entezam, Introduced and translated by Matthijs van der Bos.
In 1977 Entezam wrote a series of articles entitled ‘A New Perspective on Mysticism and Sufism – Nazari tazeh be erfan va tassavof-. He used the pseudonym ‘I do not know’ (la adri) and the articles reported the question and answer sessions of a Sufi Master. The essays were republished after the revolution by Vahid Publishers, under the pseudonym of Abdollah Azadeh in 1984.
Career: diplomacy and Sufism
Abbas Milani in his book on Eminent Persians says: “Both diplomacy and Sufism became inseparable parts of Abdollah’s character and career.”
Iran’s ambassador to France in 1927,
Presented Iran’s case against Britain to the League of Nations in 1933,
Iran’s ambassador to West Germany,
Minister of Finance under Mohammad Reza Shah, then Foreign Minister 1953-56,
Negotiated the resumption of diplomatic relations with Britain and the oil contracts after Mossadegh.
Chairman of the board of directors and Managing Director of NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) 1957-63.
Dismissed by the Shah after the uprisings of 1963, for suggesting that the pace of reforms should be slowed down.
Marvin Zonis wrote on this subject in The Political Elite of Iran. p63 Dealing with the counter elite. According to Zonis, Hossein Ala the court minister, called together a council of elite statesmen to convey their mounting concern to the Shah, in relation to the extreme response of the military to demonstrations against the arrest of Khomeini in June 1963.
People were demonstrating peacefully but the Shah had ordered troops to shoot and kill. The council of elite statesmen were: Ala himself, Abdollah Entezam, General Morteza Yazdanpanah, & Sardar Fakher Hekmat. After the four officials carried their foreboding to His Majesty, it was reported that the Shah was infuriated. Ala was relieved of his duties as minister of court, Yazdanpanah was dropped from the inspectorate, Hekmat was forbidden to campaign for the parliament & Entezam was retired from the National Iranian Oil Company and sent ‘home’.
Entezam then set up an ironmongery workshop from which he earned his living for the next 15 years.
In 1978 the Shah realising his mistake begged him to return and accept the post of Prime Minister but it was too late. Entezam was too old and a revolution was well under way. There was nothing Entezam could do to dissuade the striking oil workers, despite the warm welcome that he received at the now in-turmoil oil company. p944 Raz e Bozorg. He advised the Shah to remain in the country and not flee to the West. Once again his advice was not heeded.
Short Video about him by Massoud Behnood:
Life story in Farsi: abdollah
2021 Published Family History: خاندان انتظام وزیری
His book, Human Fraternity, published in 2021 after 50 years! (English): NAHAIEE
کتاب ایشان ِ برادری انسانیت، چاپ بعد از ۵۰ سال بدون سانسور
Abdullah on Marvin Zonis’ book in English: entezam_marzin_Zonis
Newsletter in English when he was the NIOC Chairman: Entezam_Newsletter
Eulogy by Sir Dennis Wright: Abdullah Eulogy By Wright
His article on Masonic virtue in Farsi (1969):Abdullah_article_1969
Member of delegation to The League of Nations:
Treaty signed with India while foreign minister: TREATY_OF_COMMERCE_AND_NAVIGATION:
Iran Oil Accord 1954: August_6
BBC movie on NIOC and interview with Chairman
Home movie while at League of nations:
Writeup published about his Great Grand Uncle Mirza Issiah Vazir میرزا عیسی خان وزیر (in Parsi) Mirza Issiah Vazir
Ancestral tomb mirza Issaiah Vazir part one:
Ancestral tomb mirza Issaiah Vazir part two:
History of the Monirieh district on Tehran and the tomb:
Family History in Farsi – شجره نامه فامیلی
Article published in the International Journal Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding