Abul Khair Khan

Mirza Abū'l-Khair Mūhammed Khan bin Qājı Abdūllah Sultan (Kazakh: Мырза Әбілқайыр Мұхаммед хан бин Қажы Абдұллаh Сұлтан, ميرزا أبو الخير محمد خان بن حاجي عبد الله سلطان, romanized: Myrza Äbılqaiyr Mūhammed Han bin Qajy Abdūllah Sūltan), more commonly known by his short name Abū'l-Khair Khan (1693–1748) was leader of the Kazakh Little jüz in present-day western and central Kazakhstan. During this period, the Little jüz participated in the Kazakh-Dzungar Wars mainly to avenge the "Great Disaster" Dzungar invasion of major Kazakh territories. Under the strong leadership of Abu'l-Khair, the Muslim Kazakh ghazis defeated Dzungar forces at the Bulanty river in 1726 and in the Battle of Anrakai in 1729.

Abu'l Khair Khan
Әбілқайыр хан
أبو الخير خان
Abulkhair Khan.jpg
1st Khan of the Junior jüz
SuccessorNur Ali Khan
Turkistan, Kazakh Khanate
Died12 August 1748
SpouseFarida Begum
IssueNur Ali Khan
Jar-Muhammad Khan
Erali Khan
Aishuaq Khan
ميرزا أبو الخير خان بن حاجي عبد الله سلطان
Mırza Abū'l-Khair Mūhammed Khan bin Qājı Abdūllah Sultan
HouseHouse of Borjigin
House of Urus Khan
FatherQajı Abdullah Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
Stamp of Kazakhstan devoted to Abul Khair Khan, 2001 (Michel 316)

Abu'l Khair Khan was born as the second oldest son of Hajji (Qajı) Abdullah Sultan, a Kazakh mırza (aristocrat) who had quickly risen to the royal ranks after completing his hajj to Mecca. Like his father, Abu'l-Khair also began as a mırza before rising to the throne. This made him one of the few documented khans of the Kazakh Khanate to have not been descended from either Janibek Khan or Kerei Khan. Nonetheless, it was likely due to Abdullah's connections with the royal family that Abu'l Khair Khan himself became ruler.

Abu'l Khair Khan took the throne in 1718 as the new khan of the Kazakhs. In order to obtain Russian help against the Dzungars, Abul Khair Khan took an oath of allegiance to the Russian crown in 1731. In an attempt to unite his empire and prevent anyone from defecting and helping out the Dzungars, Abu'l Khair Khan also fostered a strong religious identity among the Sunni Muslim Kazakhs.[1] He subsequently tried to limit the amount of Russian influence exercised over the Kazakh Little jüz since he still wanted his empire to function as an independent Islamic state. According to a 2019 study, "neither Kazakhs nor Russian officials thought of their relationship as a form of annexation, but rather merely an alliance."[1]

For his contributions in reuniting the Kazakh people and defeating the Dzungars, Abu'l-Khair was bestowed with the title "Shah-i-Turan" (Persian for "King of Turan").



  1. ^ a b Afinogenov, Gregory (2019-09-03). "Languages of Hegemony on the Eighteenth-Century Kazakh Steppe". The International History Review. 41 (5): 1020–1038. doi:10.1080/07075332.2018.1475403. ISSN 0707-5332. S2CID 158173287.