The hereditary title of ‘Aga Khan’ was first bestowed upon the Imam of the time in 1818.
After the downfall of the Nizari Ismaili state of Alamut in 1256, the Persian Nizari Ismailis lived in scattered communities in Persia for seven centuries. For at least two centuries, the Nizaris did not have direct access to the Imams, who were living discreetly in various parts of Persia. The widely dispersed Nizari communities of the post-Alamut period developed independently of one another, each retaining its own particular heritage and religious literature. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the Imams emerged in Anjundan, a village in Central Persia. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the Imams acquired political prominence in Persia. The Persian Monarch, Fath Ali Shah appointed Imam Hasan Ali Shah as Governor of one of the provinces, and bestowed the title of ‘Agha Khan’ upon Imam. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Nizari Imam had become known to the outside world as the Aga Khan and the seat of the Imamat had been transferred to the Indian subcontinent.