The forebears of the Asaf Jahi dynasty came to India from Samarkhand, in Central Asia, but the family actually originated from Baghdad. In 1724, the Moghul Governor of the Deccan, Asaf Jah, Nizam ul-Mulk, Qamar ud-din Khan, established himself as an independant ruler. Hyderabad brecame the capital and later lent its name to that of the state he created. The first Nizam's successors became closly allied to the British, frequently assisting them in subduing their enemies, the Mahrathas, Tipu Sultan of Mysore, and the French. In later years, the Nizam's troops invariably took part in all the main campaigns undertaken by the Indian army. Large numbers of troops took part in the First and Second World Wars. These contributions earned for the Nizam unequalled titles and honours from a grateful Emperor. The state was the largest and premier princely state in the Empire. The Nizam ruled over a cosmopolitan population of over 16 million people, and over lands extending to 82,698 sq.miles of homogenous terrritory. These advantages persuaded the Nizam to attempt an independent existence, when the British withdrew from the sub-continent in 1947. He refused to join either India or Pakistan, preferring to form a separate kingdom within the British Commonwealth of nations. Unfortunately, the majority of his subjects were Hindus and his territory was surrounded on all sides by Indian territory. Attempts by certain groups of Muslim fundamentalists to ferment trouble and seize power, prompted the new Indian government to invade and annex Hyderabad by a, so-called, police action in 1948. Although the Nizam then acceded to the Dominion of India, power simply slipped from his grasp. He received the ceremonial post of Rajpramukh in 1950, but resigned from this office when the states were re-organised in 1956. Hyderabad was then split and dismembered along linguistic lines. The state that was once so well noted for its religious and ethnic toleration, ruled by a highly cultured and intellectually brilliant elite who maintained all that was best in the old Mughal order, was now no more.
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The ruling prince: Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Faithful Ally of the British Government, Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, with the style of His Exalted Highness.

Style of address of His Exalted Highness The Nizam: Great and Holy Protector of the World, Shadow of God, Mighty Holder of Destinies, Full of Light and Most Elevated Among Creatures, The Exalted, May God's Shadow Never Grow Less, May God Protect Your Kingdom and Your Sultanate.
The principal consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Walashan Nawab (personal title), Sahibzada Mir (personal name) Khan Bahadur, The Prince of Berar, with the style of His Highness.
The wife of the Heir Apparent: (personal name) Begum Sahiba, The Princess of Berar, with the style of Her Highness.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Walashan Nawab (personal title), Sahibzada Mir (personal name) Khan Bahadur.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.
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The state of Hyderabad broadly followed the old Mughal forms. Status was usually depended upon the size of the mensab held by the individual. These were originally military commands with estates or revenues attached to enable payment of the troops forming the commands. In Hyderabad, these were later converted into state pensions or assignments of revenue, without actual military commands being attached to them. The hierarchy of titles also followed Mughal forms and were generally additive, i.e. each ascending rank was added to existing titles rather than replacing them. These titles, in ascending order, were as follows:
Khan Bahadur
The formal style of rendering the titles for a Muslim of the highest rank was as follows - (personal title) Jah, (personal title) ul-Umara, (personal title) ul-Mulk, (personal title) ud-Daula, Nawab (personal name) Khan Bahadur, (personal title) Jang. However, in normal parlance, the style of address would be Nawab (personal title) Jah Bahadur, Nawab (personal title) ud-Daula, or Nawab (personal title) Jang Bahadur.
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Amongst the great Muslim nobles of Hyderabad, the foremost family were known as the Amir-i-Paigah family. They took the name from the principal office held by the head of the house, command of the personal household troops of the Nizam. They are Sayyidis descended from the famous sufi saint, Shaikh Farid ud-din Shakarganj. At one time the family domains comprised a fifth of the entire territory of the state. The wealth and status of the family, together with the close marriage alliances with the Nizam's family, ensured near Royal status for its senior members.
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Though ruled by a Muslim family and its Muslim retainers, the population of the state was overwhelmingly composed of Hindus. Many state officials and nobles were drawn from the Hindu community and enjoyed titles of parallel rank to their Muslim counterparts. These titles, in ascending order, were as follows:
Raja Bahadur
Raja Rai Bahadur
Raja Rai-i-Rayan Bahadur
Maharaja Bahadur

Hilal-i-Osmania (the Osmani Crescent): founded by Nizam Osman Ali Khan on 11th December 1944, as a reward for exceptional acts of self sacrifice and courage in the public interest, without regard to position, occupation or gender. Awarded in a single class.
Tamgha-i-Khusrow-i-Deccan (the Khusrow-i-Deccan Medal): founded by Nizam Osman Ali Khan on 11th December 1944, to reward and recognise important and useful services in the public interest, without regard to position, occupation or gender. Awarded in three classes (1. Gold - limited to two recipients at any one time, 2. Silver - limited to three recipients, and 3. Bronze - limited to ten recipients).
Tamgha-i-Asafia (the Asafia Medal): founded by Nizam Osman Ali Khan on 11th December 1944, to reward distinguished of a civil nature, without regard to position, occupation or gender. Awarded in three classes (1. Gold - limited to three recipients at any one time, 2. Silver - limited to six recipients, and 3. Bronze - limited to ten recipients).

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Large tracts of territory within the state were composed of ancient Hindu fiefdoms known as samasthans, some of them dating back to independent principalities founded after the fall of the Warangal kingdom in mediaeval times. The ranks and titles of these families were on a par with the great Muslim magnates of the state. Many of them enjoyed high military commands, equivalent to the mensabs. By 1947 there were sixteen samasthans, of whom the eight principal vassals were:
Maharaja of Gadwal
Maharaja of Wanapurthy
Raja of Jatprole
Raja of Amarchanta
Raja of Gurugunta
Raja of Gopalpet
Raja of Jawalgiri and Anagundi
Raja of Shorapur, an Imperial mansabdar since the days of Emperor Aurangzeb
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Male primogeniture, irrespective of the status, or marital engagements of the mother.
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Alam ul-Ulema: Wisest in the World.
Amir-i-Kabir: great prince or, great commander.
Arustu-i-Zaman: Aristotle of the Age.
Asaf: wise.

Asaf Jah
: Asaf's Equal in Dignity (Asaf being the Minister to King Solomon).
: Lord of Petitions, i.e. the grand master of ceremonies at the court.
Ayn Waffadar: Faithful Friend.
Bahadur: Honourable.
Bahadur Jang: Honourable in War.
Dastar-i-Mubarak: the 'auspicious headgear', equivalent to a Royal crown.
Deccan: designation used for south central India, including Hyderabad state, and having a similar meaning to "the deep south".
Devdi: a nobleman's palace or mansion.
Farzand Arjumund: Dearest Son, a high honour bestowed by Emperor Aurangzeb on Shahab ud-din.
Fath Jang: Victorious in War.

: Slave of Solomon.
Hilal: crescent (moon).
Huzur: the presence, A term used to describe a ruler of the highest rank and also offices and appointments close to him.
Iqtidar-i-Kishwarsitan: Conqueror of Dominions.
Ikhtidar ud-Daula: Strength of the State.
Ikhtidar ul-Mulk: Strength of the Realm.
Jah: Dignity. Suffix of the highest noble title in the state, conferred on sons and very close relatives of the Nizam.
Jang: war, or battle.
Khansaman: Master of the Household.
Khusru (or Khosrow): 'bearing a good name'.

Moin ul-Mahan
: Assistant Minister.
Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk: Conqueror of Realms.
naan: round flat bread with a few bubbles, used as the state symbol in allusion to the Deccan landscape.
Nawab: used alone, refers to the ruler of the state of Hyderabad.
Nawab Sahib: address of courtesy used for the great nobles of the state.
Namwar Jang: Famous in War.
Nazm-i-Jamiat: HEH the Nizam's Irregular Forces.
Nizam: title adopted by Europeans when speaking of the ruler of Hyderabad, but not one generally used by his subjects, or by Indians. The latter would speak of him as the Nawab.
Nizam ud-Daula: Regulator of the State.
Nizam ul-Mulk: Regulator of the Realm.
Padshah-i-Ghazi: Victorious Emperor.
Paigah: Household Troops.
Rukn ud-Daula: Pillar of the State.
Rustam-i-Dauran: Rustam of the Age.
Samasthan: Ancient Hindu fiefdom, of which there were sixteen within Hyderabad state in 1947.
Shams ud-Daula: Sun of the State.
Shams ul-Mulk: Sun of the Realm.
Shams ul-Umara: Sun of the Nobility.
Sharf-i-Khas: Department of the Household.
Sipah Salar: Leader of Armies, i.e. Commander-in-Chief.
Subadar: Governor of a large province. Until the fall of the Delhi dynasty, the official title of the ruler of Hyderabad was "Nawab Subadar of the Deccan".
Taigh Jang: Sword of War.
Tamha: medal.
Umara-i-A'azam: collective term for the greatest nobles of the state.
Umdat ud-Daula: Greatest in the State.
Umdat ul-Mulk: Greatest of the Realm.
Usman (or Osman): slave (of God).

: deputy plenipotentiary, or Viceroy.
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Christopher Armstead. Princely Pageant. Thomas Harmsworth Publishing, London, 1987.
Lewis Bentham Bowring. Bowring Collection. MSS. Eur. G.38, Oriental India Office Collection, British Library, London.
Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
K. Chandraiah. Hyderabad, 400 Glorious Years. Second edition. K. Chandraiah Memorial Trust, Hyderabad, 1998.
The Chronology of Modern Hyderabad 1720-1890. The Central Records Office, Hyderabad Government, Hyderabad, 1954.
Commissioner of Income-Tax, Andhra Pradesh v. H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan [1965] INSC 220; [1966] 2 SCR 296; AIR 1966 SC 1260 (25 October 1965).
Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Andhrapradesh, Hyderabad v. Trustees of H.E.H. Nizam's Family (Remainder Wealth Trust), HY [1977] INSC 136; [1977] 3 SCR 735; [1977] 3 SCC 362; AIR 1977 SC 2103 (3 May 1977).
Index to Titles (1798-1835), As Recorded in the Alqabnamas or Books of Titles and Forms of Address. National Archives of India, New Delhi, 1980.
Harriet Ronken Lynton and Mohini Rajan. The Days of the Beloved. Sangam Books, London, 1987.
Memoranda of Information regarding certain Native Chiefs. Volume II: Central Provinces, Nipal, Hyderabad, Baroda, Mysore, Munnipore. IOR (L/PS/20/F76/2), Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
K. Krishnaswamy Mudiraj (comp.). Pictorial Hyderabad. Vols. I and II. Chandrakanth Press, Hyderabad, Deccan, 1929-1934.
Dr. M.A. Nayeem. The Splendour of Hyderabad: Last Phase of An Oriental Culture (1591-1948 AD). First edition. Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1987.
Razia Begum v. Sahebzadi Anwar Begum & Others [1958]; AIR 886 1959 SCR 1111 (23 May 1958).
Saeedu'llah. The Life and Works of Muhammad Siddiq Hasan Khan, Nawab of Bhopal [1248-1307/1832-1890], Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore, 1973.
Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava. The First Two Nawabs of Oudh (A Critical Study Based on Oriental Sources), The Upper India Publishing House, Lucknow, 1933.
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Dr. Morris L. Bierbrier, FSA.
Sahibzadi Jamil Unnisa Begum Mir Osman Ali Khan.
M.A. Faiz Khan (Paigah).
Mohammed Faraaz Khan.
Sahibzada Mir Jaffar Ali Khan.
Jeffrey Finestone.
Sahibzada Mir Mahmood Ali Khan.
Sahibzada Muhammad Naseeruddin Khan.
Samia Ali Khan.
Steve Ruelberg.
Deepthi Sasidharan.
Juan Jorge Shaffer.
Warisunissa Begum.
David Williamson.
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I would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have changes, corrections or additions to contribute. If you do, please be kind enough to send me an e-mail using the contact details at:
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Copyright©Christopher Buyers, March 2001 - October 2011