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 Mesaj Başlığı: Ishanate of Âfâq Khwâja in 17th century Eastern Turkestan
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Beyond the Khanate and the Caliphate:
the Ishanate of Âfâq Khwâja in 17th century Eastern Turkestan

Etudes orientales N° 25 (1er semestre 2008)

Pages: 53-67

Alexandre PAPAS
(CNRS, Paris)

Foreign tourists visiting the fancy location of the mausoleum of Âfâq Khwâja near Kashgar today are not encouraged to learn much about who this saint was or about the historical background of his life and deeds. Nor do the descriptive panels on the site give a single clue except for a reminder of the famous legend of the “fragrant concubine” - a granddaughter of Âfâq Khwâja who was “married” to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong1. This is hardly surprising. The figure of Âfâq Khwâja is still highly controversial in present-day China and the silence surrounding his mausoleum is the very sign of his importance. In addition to this silence, the discourses held in common by Uyghur and Chinese historians, as well as Western historians, agree on a unique image of the saint and of his historical role, which can be summed up in a few words.
Briefly, Âfâq Khwâja is perceived as the puppet ruler of a chaotic State at the end of the seventeenth century, representing one of the darkest periods of the history of Eastern Turkestan. I do not aim to convert this perception into a full positive, bright and magnificent version. Such a function befits the hagiographer, not the historian. Nevertheless I will make use of various hagiographical sources so as to investigate the activities of Âfâq Khwâja from the inside, and thus hopefully avoid a few anachronistic views. After having analyzed the Sino-Uyghur and Western historiographies about the Âfâq Khwâja moment, I wish to reconsider the rise of Âfâq Khwâja from

authority to power in the historical religious context of the Sa‘îdiyya Khanate; and last but not least, I propose to examine the political regime founded by Âfâq Khwâja in specific terms, that is, in relation to its Sufi dimension and its politico-religious ideology2.
Âfâq Khwâja in historiography
The historiography about Âfâq Khwâja and the Khwâjas in general begins simultaneously in Eastern and Western countries. Aside from the general descriptions by militaries or diplomats such as Chokan Valikhanov3 and Douglas Forsyth4 during the late nineteenth century, the year 1905 was that of two major publications: the Tatar historian Mullâ Musâ Sayramî’s Târîkh5 and the German orientalist Martin Hartmann’s Der Islamische Orient 6. What interests us is the fact that, in these two fundamental books, there appears a similar critic against Âfâq Khwâja: Sayrâmî and Hartmann agree to consider the Sufi saint’s (îshân in Persian) rule as a chaotic and highly dependent one. Arguing that the Sufi remains a mystic unable to lead a single administration, or worse: a self-proclaimed saint preoccupied solely with giving evidences of his sanctity, the regime of Âfâq Khwâja is reduced to a bare puppet government entirely dependent on the Jungar [Western Mongol] rulers, the “official” rulers of Eastern Turkestan. Even Hartmann’s innovative concept of Heiligenstaat - “State of the Saints” - to identify Âfâq Khwâja’s regime paradoxically denies it any consistency, and ultimately deprives it of substance.
Throughout the twentieth century, while enriching their knowledge, historians stuck to this claim without ever considering Âfâq Khwâja’s regime as a serious matter, except maybe for the Russian philologist Veniamin Judin who, in the 1960’s, discovered new sources - mainly hagiographical - and called for further researches in the history of the
Khwâjas7. But he was the exception which confirms the rule. At the same time, Sino-Uyghur scholars were making a habit of calling the Khwâja period Jungghar feodalliq dävri (in Uyghur), “the time of Jungar feudalism”, and they developed quite elaborate arguments to demonstrate how these were the darkest ages in the history of Eastern Turkestan on account of the misdeeds perpetrated by Âfâq Khwâja and his descendants. Contemporary authors such as Nizamidin Hüsäyn8 or Chen Guoguang9 published, in the 1980’s and 90’s, several articles dealing with the Khwâjas. Although their works provide substantial data and shed a new light on this topic, their basic purpose is to prove that Âfâq Khwâja could claim no legitimacy to power and was, in fact, unable to assume any power.
In passing, it seems important here to warn against misreadings and approximations, such as the ones I could read in a recent review of my book10: for obvious reasons the reviewer apparently ignores, one cannot find any appropriate analysis of the politico-religious reality of the Khwajas in publications from PRC, nor does one encounter any consistent corpus of primary sources. A book like Liu Zhengyin & Wei Liangtao’s Xiyu hezhuo jiazu yanjiu [The Khwajas in Western region] (Beijing: Zhongguo shehuikexue chubanshe, 1998) is indeed, contrary to what the reviewer claims, rather sketchy and obsolete in so far as it does not use the main Persian and Turkic sources as well as the recent Japanese works, and -maybe worse - the entire bibliography in Uyghur.

On the Western side, the late Joseph Fletcher11, professor at Harvard University, whom we may consider the most important author on the Khwâjas, wrote between 1975 and 1984 audacious and attractive studies which aimed to understand the Khwâjas in the global context of the Modern Muslim world. According to Fletcher, the Âfâq Khwâja moment takes part in a much wider process which affects the whole Muslim world in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a Sunni orthodox wave through Sufi orders beginning in the Hijaz and ending in China. This thesis refers, in fact, to a broader theory concerning modernity or orthodoxy in the Muslim world - but it is not the place here to develop this point. On the other hand, understandably, Fletcher’s thesis found some epistemological support among the upholders of the world history. Therefore, Joseph Fletcher appears to have been the first to acknowledge the historical impact of the Khwâjas. However, he still reduces the activities of Âfâq Khwâja and his lineage to a second fiddle play: as agents of the orthodox Sunni ideology, the Âfâqîs are only proselytes with no proper politico-religious orientation.
Although one could not, naturally, identify these two historiographies which start in 1905 with Musâ Sayramî and end with Joseph Fletcher, one is forced to admit that both theses have at least one assumption in common: both agree to reject the specificity of the Âfâq Khwâja case. It seems that orientalists did not dare appraise the proper scope of this case. By scope, I mean the inseparable political, religious and spiritual aspects of Âfâq Khwâja’s rule, or in other words the political sainthood it represents. As it were, the rise from religious authority to political power is not a self-evident phenomenon, for it is not such a common career for a Sufi master. This is why I will now examine the Âfâq’s political and even military activism with respect to his sainthood.
Beyond the Khanate: the rise of Âfâq Khwâja
Born in the oasis of Qomul in 1035 hijrî/1626, Âfâq Khwâja - otherwise known as Hidâyat Allâh - leaves his home town at the age of 12 when his father, the Naqshbandî îshân Yûsuf Khwâja, a descendant of the famous Makhdûm-i A‘zam, takes him to Kashgar12. For nearly 15 years, he spends most of his time in Sufi lodges (khânaqâh) and studies in several madrasas in Kashgar, Yarkand and Sariqol. Soon after his father’s death, Âfâq becomes the shaykh of the tarîqat. He then scours the Turkestan in search of protection for himself and his followers. The young master travels to Khotan, Kucha, Turfan, up to the Ferghana Valley and even - or so the sources say - to Samarkand. However that may be, I mean regarding such long-distance journeys, one notices that the order increases in scale and expands throughout the Tarim Basin. This expansion is confirmed by the allegiance and patronage of Ismâ‘îl Khân, the sovereign of the Sa‘îdiyya Khanate between 1670 and 167913.
This can be considered as the first step towards the rise of Âfâq Khwâja. Indeed, the patronage of Ismâ‘îl Khân entitles the îshân to numerous privileges and material support. The Turkestanese landscape soon welcomes the flowering of mosques, khânaqâhs and shrines. No later, the Turkestanese people step into these religious buildings, thereby lending the new Naqshbandî branch full credibility. A paradoxical sign of this popularity is the change in Ismâ‘îl Khân’s attitude, as he all of a sudden decides to put an end to his patronage, and forces Âfâq Khwâja and his followers out of the country in 1671. In other words, the khân, anxious about the growing influence of the Sufi master, attempts to discourage any claim to power and to keep the îshân away from all religiously fertile land, that is: away from Muslim areas. According to Muhammad Sâdiq Kâshgharî’s Tadhkira-yi ‘Azîzân, Âfâq Khwâja and a group of followers crossed over the Pamir and the Himalaya mountains, to reach Tibet and China. Contrary to all expectations, and above all that of the khan himself, this exile would bring about the second step towards the rise of the Khwâja14.
It is difficult to determine the precise itinerary of Âfâq’s exile, as available sources fail to provide significant details concerning roads or names of places. Despite this lack of data, one should deeper investigate the hagiographical traditions in search of the process of construction of Âfâq Khwâja’s sainthood. Both legitimately and effectively, after his ten-year exile, the îshân becomes the main religious and spiritual authority in Eastern Turkestan. Traveling all along the Oriental border of the Tarim Basin, Âfâq Khwâja multiplies allegiances and initiations to his tarîqat. According to the works of Joseph Fletcher, or more recently of the aforementioned Chen Guoguang, the Turkestanese îshân lies at the source of at least three Naqshbandî branches (menhuan in Chinese) in Northwest China. Without developing this point, I simply deduce from these facts that Âfâq Khwâja had gained increasing influence among the Muslim communities surrounding the Tarim Basin15.
What I would rather point out is the legendary activity of the saint in those remote and somewhat mythical regions from a Turkestanese point of view. From this standpoint indeed, Âfâq is much more than the founder of Sufi branches, he is the great saint who can rival the religious, and even political leaders of the neighbouring empires. According to the hagiographies again, Âfâq Khwâja met the fifth Dalai Lama and the Emperor of Qing China, Kangxi. About the former, again the Tadhkira-yi ‘Azîzân claims that, having lost at a charismatic competition16, he secretly converted to Islam. As for the Chinese Emperor, the Hidâyat Nâma by Mawlânâ Mîr Khâl al-Dîn al-Yârkandî - a Persian text completed in 1730 which describes the encounter -states that, having been cured by the Sufi saint, he granted the Muslims, and above all the saint himself, protection17. The question is not to decide whether such stories are true or not. This I would believe to be entirely anachronistic. Such kinds of anecdotes rather show how the sainthood of Âfâq Khwâja takes shape in a specific context and, more precisely, how this sainthood grants him not only religious authority but also political legitimacy.
When Âfâq Khwâja returns to his homeland in 1680, he appears as a sort of “perfect Muhammadan saint”, I mean a saint who corresponds entirely to the Prophetic model. Just like the Prophet Muhammad, the Sufi saint returns from nearly ten years of emigration (hijrah) and his return could be experienced as the beginning of a new era, or at least a new order. Like the Prophet, the saint represents a legitimacy which transcends all others, including, in our context, the Chaghatayid lineage characteristic of the Sa‘îdiyya Khanate founded by Abû Sa‘îd Khân in 1514. But more important yet, his action is meant to be charismatic, that is, one directly supported by Allâh, with no need for a mediator. Then again, like the Prophet, Âfâq Khwâja claims his ability to lead not only his close followers, but the entire society, better than any ruler could. Although the Naqshbandî îshân would never, of course, pretend to be a Prophet himself, he acts in conformity with the Muhammadan paradigm and founds this conformity on genealogical grounds:
First, Âfâq Khwâja introduces himself as a Makhdûmzâda, a descendant of Makhdûm-i A‘zam, himself a descendant of the Prophet insofar as Makhdûm-i A‘zam was a sayyid18. Thus the lineage, which is both spiritual (ma‘nawî) and physical (sûrî), ranks Âfâq Khwâja the 25th descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. And I must add that this question of sharîfian genealogy is of utmost relevance regarding the Khwâjas and remains a much debated issue in contemporary Xinjiang. But to this Prophetic descent, Âfâq Khwâja adds yet another by mariage. Among his three spouses, the Hidâyat Nâma reads, one is a Chinggisid “from the clan of the pâdishâh of Mughûliyya and the khâqân of Chingiziyya”19. In other words, the Sufi saint acquires additional legitimacy, that of the Chinggisids, which is precisely all that still failed him to claim political power over Eastern Turkestan. Now, these are the main structural changes which, I believe, can explain the military and political circumstances of Âfâq Khwâja’s ascent to power.
When the saint returns to Eastern Turkestan, the Sa‘îdiyya Khanate is still ruled over by Ismâ‘îl Khân. In the meantime, the Mongol Jungar leader Galdan Boshoqtu Khân, settled in the Northwestern areas (around present-day Ghulja), was awaiting a suitable occasion to drive an attack against the Khanate. According to Mullâ Musâ Sayramî’s Târîkh-i Hamîdî, a well-known yet late Turkic chronicle, Âfâq comes to an agreement with Galdan, and tells him: “if you give me soldiers, the Altishahr is yours; I shall give it to you”. Sayramî explains that, underlying this offer was Âfâq Khwâja’s will to take hold of the Khanate and depose Ismâ‘îl Khân20. Soon after, a contingent of 12 000 Jungar soldiers, among which Âfâqî supporters, appear, besiege Kashgar and the Khanate’s capital, Yarkand. Ismâ‘îl Khân is forced to negociate the surrender of the Sa‘îdiyya Khanate and to ask the people of Yarkand to “submit to the two Makhdûmzâda”21. This quotation of the Tadhkira-yi ‘Azîzân, as well as an excerpt from the Hidâyat Nâma dealing with these events, attest that the power is indeed handed over, not to the Jungars, but to the Khwâjas. The two Makhdûmzâda are in fact Âfâq Khwâja and his son Yahya Khwâja. As the former sits on the throne in Yarkand, the latter becomes the regent of Kashgar, while Ismâ‘îl Khân and his clan are exiled in Ghulja. In a matter of months, the supreme power in Eastern Turkestan is completely overthrown: the Sa‘îdî dynasty is no more, the power switches to another dynasty, a Sufi one - that of the Makhdûmzâda.
To conclude this section, I would insist again that this rapid change could never have happened without the exceptional charismatic advent of Âfâq Khwâja who, in ten years, had become the greatest living Muslim saint in Eastern Turkestan, a sort of legendary figure at the head of thousands of followers. But once again, this does not mean that his power was a legend. On the contrary, the Sufi ruler tried concretely to expand the Naqshbandî Makhdûmzâda order to the size of a country and to apply its model to the whole of its population. As a saint on a throne, he had to lead to salvation not only his followers but his entire community.
The Ishanate
Under the Jungar protection, Âfâq Khwâja establishes a political system based on the traditional spiritual authorities, the îshân, and inspired by the principles and practices of the Naqshbandî order. I would distinguish three areas of application of this system founded by Âfâq: first, the spreading of the khulafâ’; second, a mass initiation process; and third, the public and collective ceremonies22. Reading the different available sources about the activities of the Âfâqî Sufis, especially the hagiographies, one notices immediately the attention paid by the authors to the khulafâ’, the placeholders, the missionaries of Âfâq Khwâja and his elder son Yahya Khwâja. Here I will first make use of chapter 24 of the Hidâyat Nâma which is a kind of obituary of the famous (ûlûgh) khulafâ’ of Âfâq Khwâja.
Let us begin by mentioning such names as that of Âkhûnd Mullâ ‘Âlim Yârkandî, an early companion of Âfâq who probably went into exile with him. A learned man and an accomplished mystic, ‘Âlim Yârkandî also used to be a Sufi soldier in the Yûlbârs Khân’s contingents, and he took up arms again when, right after Âfâq’s death, the population of Kashgar called for his protection against a Jungar attack. Another case is that of Âkhûnd Mullâ Khwâja Otrârî’s, a regular performer of samâ‘ sessions, an exegete of Jalâl al-Dîn Rûmî’s Mathnawî, and, towards the end of his life, an active missionary in Badakhshân. The figure of Mullâ Abdâl is quite interesting as well: as a former farm owner in the Yarkand region, he became a disciple of Âfâq Khwâja and worked in the kitchens of his dargâh. He then himself became a khalîfa leading numerous people - notably women and children -while still in charge of mundane tasks. I should also mention several Chinese Muslims - named Tunggan in Turki - khulafâ’, like Mullâ Chîn who ruled over a khânaqâh somewhere in Northwest China, or Mullâ Yûsuf Chînî Tunggânî who was at the service of Yahya Khwâja, or lastly Bâbâ Khwâja Mâchînî, born in Khotan, and a khalîfa very close to Âfâq.
These examples give an idea of the wide network set up by the Âfâqîs who spread their representatives all over their territory and at its borders. They also illustrate the various tasks those khulafâ’ could assume, fighting, proselytizing, preaching, organizing sociability, or even in charge of administrative duties. The Tadhkira-yi ‘Azîzân adds that the khulafâ’ were in charge of the waqf. Âfâq would send his placeholders throughout the country to create or recover waqf goods. Several places are mentioned such as Fayzabad near Kashgar, Toqquzkent near Yarkand, Aq Saray near Khotan and Âq Yâr near Aqsu. Generally speaking, the Âfâqî khulafâ’ relayed the power of Âfâq Khwâja and Yahya Khwâja, and guaranteed the power of the saint lineage and the principles of the tarîqat at a local level.
They were also in charge of a second aspect of the Âfâqî political and religious system: the mass initiation process23. Wishing in fact to spread the tarîqat to the scale of the entire society and to apply the tarîqat model of sociability to the social organization and relations, the Naqshbandî Âfâqîs developed allegiances among the population of Eastern Turkestan. Thus, the bay‘at ceremony ought to match principles of simplicity and efficiency. Practically speaking, the disciple would articulate the repentance prayers; the master would introduce him to the secret formulas of the tarîqat and pass the Sufi mantle (khirqa) on to him. The disciple would then gird up his loins with the ritual belt (kamar) and, lastly, the master would take the disciple’s right hand into his own two hands as a sign of investiture. This is a classical however simple ceremony fit to initiate a large number of disciples, even if the latter retain only very little spiritual teaching from their Sufi initiation. The aim is to secure that the initiates respect the sociability of the Naqshbandiyya and become subjects to the saint Âfâq Khwâja.
One should nevertheless distinguish different levels of initiation which could represent different types of disciples. For example, I was talking about the khulafâ’. These are among the closest companions of the Khwâja leaders: they thoroughly follow the principles of the Naqshbandiyya, they experience a spiritual progression and are - if I may say - plain, accomplished Sufis. They themselves rule over disciples and act as local îshâns. At the same level of initiation, the Khwâja îshâns themselves should be mentioned, I mean the successors (awlâd) of Âfâq Khwâja and his sons, through the same lineage. And as a matter of fact, both khulafâ’ and awlâd appear to be “secondary” saints, as they derive benefit from Âfâq Khwâja’s baraka .To be distinguished also, as for another level of bay ‘a, or initiation, are the initiates proper: those who stay at the khânaqâh regularly, who are initiated to the exoteric and esoteric knowledge, who perform the order’s spiritual practices. We can imagine that, in their case, the allegiance is first individual, related to a mystical path influenced by the master, and only second, the incarnation of a spiritual model for the community as a whole. This category of disciples comprises mainly clerics, from the mullâ to the ‘âlim.
But no doubt the most important group in quantity comprises all those who keep in fact tenuous connections with the Sufis, without being Sufis themselves; in other words, those who take part in the brotherhood’s sociability without being brothers, and which the texts call nazdîkân, perhaps murîd, but not farzand or sâhib or yâr. They consist in the different strata of the Turkestanese society, from the pastor to the merchant, from the soldier to the regent. The Hidâyat Nâma sometimes endows them with such prestigious names as bîk for example. But most of them are said not to have been initiated but only “educated” (bi khabar) to esoteric knowledge.
Though the level of spiritual initiation varies, the faith oath sworn to the îshân is the same for all, as every follower is expected to obey him directly or his deputy. Here again, the bay‘a illustrates an application of the Prophetic paradigm. We know that such was the mode of allegiance between Muhammad and his followers, a sort of loyalty oath symbolized by the hands holding. We also know how crucial the bay‘a is to Sufi orders in general: grounded on the Koranic archetype of the Divine Pact and the Prophetic Pact, entering a tarîqat marks an unbreakable link between the master and the disciple. In the specific case of Âfaq Khwâja’s regime, the bay‘a brings together the spiritual and the political dimensions. The disciple of the îshân is a subject to the îshân. To this personal or inter-personal exercise of power, the Khwâjas add a collective feature through public Sufi ceremonies that corresponds to the third main aspect of their politico-religious system.
Besides the prayers, preaches and other communal religious occasions, the life of the Turkestanese believer under the Khwâja rule is characterized by regular and collective Sufi practices. As in many Sufi orders, but quite surprisingly in a Naqshbandî group, especially one that calls itself Khufiyya, the Naqshbandiyya Âfâqiyya favors collective dhikr and samâ‘ ceremonies. As far as the dhikr - the repetition of ritual formulas and name of God - is concerned, the Âfâqîs allow for both the mute (khufî) dhikr and the oral (jahrî) dhikr. This is attested in a technical text in Turki, the Majmû‘ al-Muhaqqiqîn by Mullâ Muhammad Siddîq Yârkandî. From this treatise, we learn that the Khwâjas used to perform the dhikr several times a week, between the evening and morning prayers. We are also told that dhikr performances included a cycle of readings by the shaykh (first the Mathnawî, then the Koran) followed by alternate periods of silence, rest (sakîna) and unrest, until unconsciousness (bîhûsh) would follow. These are the basic features of the Âfâqî dhikr. But sources reveal that they in fact performed not one, but various types of dhikr, in order to gather and draw people together as tightly as they could. Interestingly, the Khwâjas lay stress on the corporal virtues of the dhikr: compared to water nourishing the plants, the dhikr is said to benefit the organs and bring about a purgation of the body. This shows that, from the Khwâja Âfâqî perspective, the dhikr corresponds not only to a spiritual exercise ending in the ecstasy of the mystics, but also to a purgative practice fit for all. In the particular setting of the Âfâq’s system, the repetition of God’s name and ritual formulas was considered a religious duty24.
The second major spiritual practice is the samâ‘, a spiritual music concert sometimes joined in by dance, Sufi ecstatic dance25. As successors of Makhdûm-i A‘zam who used to encourage the samâ‘ in his teachings, the Khwâjas were quick to develop samâ‘ sessions. They would organize huge public ceremonies gathering a hundred or so participants, and allow for singing, dances as well as ecstatic experiences. The sources bear witness to the samâ‘ practices of such Khwâjas as Yûsuf Khwâja (the father and spiritual master of Âfâq Khwâja) and disciples like Âkhûnd Mullâ Khwâja Otrarî or Bâbâ Khwâja Mâchînî. As for Âfâq Khwâja himself, we are told that he was continuously in samâ‘, and much valued the company of the men of samâ‘ (ahl-i samâ‘). It should be noted also that the spiritual concert was granted institutional status. Indeed, the main khânaqâh of the order, located near Kashgar and directed by the son of Âfâq, Yahya Khwâja, was designed to shelter the samâ‘ gatherings. This does not mean that such gatherings could not take place elsewhere. In fact, the Khwâjas thought of the samâ‘ as of a spiritual and religious practice appealing to the masses, and considered that Sufi concerts and dance might guide those masses towards salvation. The chapter 8 of the Hidâyat Nâma unfolds a full argumentation about this universal benefit of the samâ‘. We are therefore bound to admit that the samâ‘ represents a regular practice of the Turkestanese believers under the rule of Âfâq Khwâja. In other words, the spiritual concert is believed to allow participants to unite in a communion in which their ego is annihilated ( bî khûd), and through which, giving up their own free will, they willingly put themselves under the complete influence of their Sufi masters. The samâ‘ intimately binds the community to its holy rulers.
To sum up, these main Sufi features of the Âfâqî regime - the spreading of the khulafâ’, the mass initiation process and the collective spiritual performances - manifest very clearly the politico-religious ideology of the Khwâjas. They embody a direct political application of the Sufi tarîqat which appears as a model for the community: the territory ruled over by the Sufi authorities constitutes the homeland of this community; every member of the community is perceived as a disciple of the Naqshbandiyya-Khwâjagân order; the life of the community is punctuated with Sufi ceremonies which give it sense, unity and consistency. What we have here is a historical attempt to extend the tarîqat to the scale of a whole country, of an entire society, well beyond the traditional Sufi circles.
This new form of a political system is founded on one central figure which is the Sufi saint, the îshân, Âfâq Khwâja or later, his successor. As in the tarîqat, in the Âfâqî regime, the îshân is the key figure of the community, its raison d’être, he is the axis which supports the Turkestanese Muslim society and leads it towards salvation and unity with God. When we studied the rise of Âfâq Khwâja, we saw how the îshân gained legitimacy and power thanks to his exceptional holy status, appearing as a quasi-Prophet, or at least as an incarnation of the Mohammedan paradigm. We now understand, after having examined his exercise of power, that the îshân not only embodied this model but wished to fulfill it again: to say it briefly, he tried to lead his community as the Prophet had led the first umma.This Prophetic ambition of Âfâq Khwâja - whether efficient or not, whether feasible or not - is the religious and spiritual cipher of his political activism. One cannot understand the Khwâjas period and its political intensity without acknowledging this point. That is the reason why I proposed a new term, the neologism ishanate, to qualify adequately the politico-religious ambition which defines the Âfâqî system of governance26. In my conclusion, I shall try to explain this choice by ultimately situating the Ishanate in relation to the Caliphate.
Conclusion: beyond the Caliphate
We observed previously that the Ishanate founded by Âfâq Khwâja put an end to the Chaghatayide supremacy, and radically upset the sources of authority as well as the nature of power in pre-modern Eastern Turkestan. Beyond the Khanate, the Ishanate made political power sacred; through this process, it set forth a religious reorientation of politics which would not end in Xinjiang before the nineteenth century. More precisely, this Islamic reorientation can be defined as an attempt to outrun not only the former Khanate system, but the historical Caliphate model as well. Beyond the Caliphate - last embodied by the Caliph Al-Musta‘sîm in thirteenth century Baghdad (and who was killed by the Mongols) - the Ishanate is characterized by two main ambitions, particularly meaningful in the Sufi Naqshbandi tradition: sanctity, and the Muhammadan community - walâya and umma.
As is well know, walâya means “proximity”, and also “friendship”, and points out to the position of the saint regarding Allâh. The Arabic WLY root also produces the word wilâya: “direction, governance”. The walî, the saint, therefore, is at once a close relative and a protector, a friend and a chief This fundamental ambiguity that lies at the core of Islamic sainthood helps us better to understand the saint Âfâq Khwâja’s attempt to set up a politico-religious state. While seizing temporal power, the Sufi saint achieves the full definition of sanctity and reconsiders the original figure of the Caliph. Like the original Caliph, khalîfat allâh - as has been clearly exposed by Patricia Crone27 - the holy îshân is elected by God to lead the people toward salvation. In so doing, he is expected to govern them and to administrate society so as to achieve his ultimate goal. Beyond the historical Caliphate, the Ishanate of Âfâq Khwâja aims to fulfill a saintly and sacred power in history again, based on walâya.
As for the umma which, according to the Koran, is a community decreed by God and the archetypal unity of mankind and the prophetic religion (umma wâhida), it represents - as we well know - the primeval and ideal community for Muslims. From a Sufi perspective, particularly for Naqhsbandîs steeped in Mawlânâ Rûmî’s Mathnawî-yi ma‘nawî, the umma would be an ummat-i ‘ishq, a community of love, that is to say, a community which devotes its love to Allâh. Beyond the Caliphate, the Ishanate runs a sacred community and leads it towards the love of God, not only towards piety and submission. The îshân is in charge of leading his community towards the ideal form of the umma, thus reviving the Muhammadan politico-religious model. Aside from the Ishanate of Âfâq Khwâja, it seems to me that other such political attempts in the history of religions, notably in Islam, deserve to see their primary sources explored, and most of all, deserve new appraisal through the coinage of appropriate concepts, so that we may fully grasp their religious and indeed, spiritual dimensions.


Babadzhanov, Bakhtjar, 1996
“Politicheskaja dejatel’nost’ shajkov nakshbandija v maverannakhre (1 polovina XVI v.)” [Les actitivés politiques des shaykhs naqshbandis au Mâwarânnahr (1ère moitié du XVIe siècle)], Tashkent: Akademija Nauk Respubliki Uzbekistan - Institut Vostokovedenija imeni Abu Rajkhana Beruni (Ph.D Dissertation, unpublished)
Babadzhanov, Bakhtjar, 1999
“Biographies of Makhdûm-i A‘zam al-Kâsânî al-Dahbîdî, Shaykh of the Sixteenth-Century Naqshbandîya”, Manuscripta Orientalia, V, n° 2, pp. 3-8.
Crone, Patricia & Hinds, Martin, 1986
God’s Caliph. Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Crone, Patricia, 2004
God’s Rule: Government and Islam. Six Centuries of Medieval
Islamic Political Thought (New York: Columbia University Press) Kâshgarî, Muhammad Sadiq, 1988
Tazkira-yi ‘Azîzân, ed. N. Mukhlis & S. Ämät (Kashgar: Qashqar
Uyghur Näshriyati).
Masät, Ablät & Ablät, Rishat, 1996
“Quntäyji vä Abakh Ghoja”, Ili Däryasi, n° 4, 1996, pp. 77-79.
Millward, James A., 1994
“A Uyghur Muslim in Qianlong’s Court: The Meaning of the
Fragant Concubine”, The Journal of Asian Studies, 53, n° 2, pp. 427-58.
Papas, Alexandre, 2004
“‘Chantez et dansez’. Le droit au samâ‘ selon Âfâq Khwâja, maître naqshbandî du Turkestan (XVIIe siècle)”, Journal d’histoire du soufisme, n° 4, pp. 189-200.
Papas, Alexandre, 2005
Soufisme et politique entre Chine, Tibet et Turkestan. Etude sur les Khwajas Naqshbandis du Turkestan oriental (Paris: Jean Maisonneuve)
Papas, Alexandre, 2006
“Notes sur la Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya en Asie centrale chinoise (XVIIIe-XIXe siècles)”, Journal d’histoire du soufisme, n° 5, pp. 319-328.
Popovic, A1exandre & Veinstein, Gilles, 1986
Les Ordres mystiques dans l’Islam. Cheminements et situation actuelle (Paris: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)
Shaw, Robert. B., 1897
“The History of the khojas of Eastern Turkestan summarised from the Tazkara-i-Khwâjagân of Muhammad Sâdiq Kâshgarî”, edited with introduction and notes by N. Elias, published as Supplement to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengale, Calcutta, vol. LXVI, part 1.
Valikhanov, Chokhan, 1986
“Ocherki Djungarii” [Notes on Jungaria], in Izbrannye proizvedenija [Selected works] (Moscow: Nauka)

1 On this legend, see Millward, 1994.
2 This article is a synthesis of my book untitled Soufisme et politique entre Chine, Tibet et
Turkestan. Etude sur les Khwajas Naqshbandis du Turkestan oriental (Paris: Jean
Maisonneuve, 2005).
3 Valikhanov, 1986, pp. 265-293.
4 See his huge Report of a Mission to Yarqand in 1873, Under Command of Sir T.D. Forsyth
with Historical and Geographical Informations regarding the Possessions of the Amir of
Yarkund (Calcutta: Foreign Department Press, 1875).
5 In fact, Sayrâmî wrote two chronicles: the Târîkh-i Amniyya (edited by N.N. Pantusov,
Taarikh-i emenie. Istorija Vladetej Kashgarii, Kazan: Tipografija Imperatorskago
Universiteta, 1905) and the Târîkh-i Hamidî (Uyghur translation by Änvär Baytur, Tarikhi
hämidi, Beijing: Millätlär Näshriyati, 1986).
6 The full reference is “Ein Heiligenstaat im Islam: Das Ende der Čaghataiden und die
Herrschaft der Choğas in Kašgarien” in Der Islamische Orient. Berichte und Forschungen,
vol. 1 (Berlin: Wolf Peiser Verlag, 1905), pp. 195-374.
7 See the recently published collection of essays under the reference V.P. Judin, Tsentral naja
Azija v XIV-XVIII vekakh glavami vostokoveda (Almaty: Dajk Press, 2001).
8 See notably his article “3. Qabahät äqidä. (Yä’ni bir qätim Appaq Khoja toghrisida)”,
Shinjang mädäniyati, 2-3, 1989, pp. 113-154; also “Jahalät pirliri Shinjangda”, Shinjang
mädäniyati, n° 4 (1987), pp. 14-29.
9 There are several articles translated into Uyghur: “Ottura Asiya näkhshivändä mäzhipi vä
Shinjang khojiliri, ghärbi shimal mäzhipi näsäbnamisi”, Qäshqär pedagogika instituti ilmi
jurnili, n° 4 (1991), pp. 60-77; “Appaq Khoja vä ghärbi yurttiki supizming shärqqä tarqilishi”,
Junggo uyghur tarikhi vä mädäniyiti tätqiqati (mäjmuä), n° 1 (1998), pp. 362-387. See
eventually the book he co-authored with a prominent Uyghur historian, the late Haji Nur Haji,
untitled Shinjang islam tarikhi (Ürümchi: Millätlär Näshriyati, 1995).
10 Published in Archives des sciences sociales des religions, n° 136 (2006), p. 82. For more
accurate analysis (critics included!), see, for instance, the reviews published in Eurasian
Studies, IV, n° 2 (2005), pp. 268-271; Turcica, n° 38 (2006), pp. 396-398; Asiatische
Studien/Etudes Asiatiques, LX, n° 4 (2006), pp. 1068-1071; Studia Iranica, 36, n° 1 (2007),
pp. 146-49; Central Asiatic Journal, 51, n° 2 (2007), pp. 305-308.
11 See the posthumous volume, which contains some major works of Fletcher, edited by
Beatrice Forbes Manz: Studies on Chinese and Islamic Inner Asia (London: Variorum, 1995).
To be mentioned too is his article « The Sufi ‘Paths’ (turuq) in China », Etudes orientales, 13-
14 (1994), pp. 55-69 (French translation: “Les voies (turuq) soufies en Chine”, in Popovic &
Veinstein, eds, 1986, pp. 13-26).
12 On Yûsuf Khwâja, see Papas, 2005, pp. 64-73.
13 Papas, 2005, pp. 75-79.
14 Papas, 2005, pp. 80-83.
15 Interestingly, one can follow the history of late Âfâqî lineages in Chinese Central Asia, in
relationship with Mujaddidî branches: see Papas, 2006.
16 Shaw, 1897, pp. 36-37.
17 Persian ms n° 1682/1 (Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan,
Tashkent), fol. 206a-209a. A full translation (into French) of this passage is available in
Papas, 2005, pp. 116-118.
18 On the religious pedigree and spiritual background of Makhdûm-i A‘zam, see
Babadzhanov, 1996 and Babadzhanov, 1999.
19 Persian ms n° 1682/1, fol. 24b.
20 Quoted in Mäsät & Ablät, 1996.
21 Kâshgarî, 1988, p. 50.
22 Significantly, one finds similar processes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Bukhara, although one would not compare the two contexts. I thank Anke von Kügelgen for this suggestion.
23 For more details, see Papas, 2005, pp. 151-155.
24 Again, this aspect is further developed in Papas, 2005, pp. 155-157.
25 Here I sum up Papas, 2004.
26 I have discovered recently a token of the term “ishanate” in the French adaptation of two articles published in Russian in 1899 by N. Lykochin: “Les Ichâns de Tachkent”, Revue du Monde musulman, XIII, n° 1 (January 1911), pp. 128-146. The quotation is on p. 133: “On a un exemple de l’hérédité de l’Ishanat par la famille de l’Imam Rabbânî (…)”. However, the meaning here refers to the transmission of the spiritual authority (that of Naqshbandî Mujaddidî shaykhs), and remains limited to the status of the Sufi master. 27 Crone & Hinds 1986; Crone 2004.

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