The Role of the Turkish Sufis in the Islamization of the Ilkhans: The Ilkhan Tegüder And Ghazan Khan Periods
Keywords: Mongol, Ilkhan, Islam, Sufism, Iran
The Islamization of the llkhans and the Ilkhanid aristocracy is a multi-faceted and complex process that cannot be fully explained in a single article. The importance of the Turkish popular religious figures in the conversion of the Ilkhans to lslam is known and frequently emphasized; however, a comprehensive study on the subject is stili yet to be made. This article tries to draw a general picture of the subject, undertaking the Turkish sufi sheiks who clearly had an important role in the Ilkhan's acceptance of Islam as well as the historical perspective of the matter. First, the article introduces stories involving the relationship the popular sufi sheiks had with the Mongols, setting out from certain hagiography work. After presenting the information which is ofa legendary context, it then continues to describe the Turkish sufi figures, a subject matter which there is consistent information within the sources and who are known to have religious influence over the Ilkhans. Kamal al-Din 'Abd al-Rahman KawashI/Rafi'i is the leading name amongst the figures whose biographies and activities are to be examined in respect to their political and cultural effect over the Ilkhans. The sheik 'Abd al-Rahman played a significant role on llkhan Tegüder's (1282-1284) conversion to Islam and the period that followed, thus leaving a mark on the Ilkhan period in the cultural and political sense. The main topics of the article involve the influence of the sheik, whom Ilkhan Ahmad Tegüder addressed as baba (father) as a sign of his respect, within the palace and his stance in the Ilkhanate-Mamlük relations. Ishan Hasan Mangli (Manli) who had been a disciple of the Qalandari Sheik Babi Ya'kub was also another important heterodox Turkish sufi sheik within the immediate circle of Ilkhan Ahmed Tegüder. Mangli whom Ilkhan Ahmad Tegüder referred to as qarindash (brother) was to fight against the Zahidi's who had possessed great religious and political influence in Persia during that period. Sa'd al-Dın Kutlugh Khwaja Khalidi Kazwini, a Turkish figure effective in Ilkhan Ghazan's (1295-1304) conversion to Islam, is introduced in light of sources. Furthermore, even though not a sufi sheik, Amir Nawruz who had a religious and cultural influence over Ghazan Khan is also a subject of analysis. The article also presents the intermediate formulas which were devised on behalf of a shari'a which is of a moderate Islam understanding that brought about Ghazan Khan's acceptance of the religion and for him to continue living as a Muslim.