ʿABD-AL-ḴĀN, an Arab tribe of Ḵūzestān. It was originally affiliated with the Banī Lām tribal confederacy and resided in the region of ʿAmāra, in what is today Iraq. Around 1850, it moved to Iran, along with several other Banī Lām tribes. The Ottoman government demanded the forced repatriation of these tribes, but their shaikhs sought the protection of Mollā Naṣrallāh, the raʾīs (chief) of the house of Mavālī, and, through his intercession, were allowed by the Iranian government to settle down permanently in Ḵūzestān. The ʿAbd-al-Ḵāns established themselves in the vicinity of Ḵayrābād in the district of Mīān Āb. There they soon prospered under the dynamic leadership of Shaikh ʿAbbās and his son, Shaikh Ḥosayn, becoming the dominant tribe of Mīān Āb. This position was officially confirmed when Shaikh Ḥosayn was given the title of šayḵ al-mašāyeḵ (“shaikh of shaikhs”) of the district. But in the early years of the 20th century the tribe’s power and influence were undermined by Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal (r. 1897-1925), the paramount chief of the Kaʿb tribal confederacy, who for many years held the province under his sway as the self-styled “padishah of Arabistan.” Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal attempted to break up the ʿAbd-al-Ḵān tribe by making the chiefs of the clans autonomous and by appointing Shaikh Farhān of the Āl-e Kaṯīr tribe shaikh of shaikhs of Mīān Āb. But with the defeat of Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal by Reżā Shah in 1925, the ʿAbd-al-Ḵān leaders were able to resume their rule as tribal leaders, although the title of shaikh of shaikhs was abolished.

At the close of World War II the ʿAbd-al-Ḵān tribe comprised some 450 households. It is divided into the following eleven tīras: Naṣīrī, Banī ʿAqaba, Šovaya, Bahādal, ʿObayd (or Kākāsī), Banī Tamīm, Bayt Qobāš, Šamar, Daḵīna, ʿAṭāšena, and ʿObūda.


J. Qāʾmmaqāmī, “ʿAšāyer-e Ḵūzestān,” part 2, Yādgār 2, 1324-25 Š./1945-46, no. 8, pp. 22-26.

M. Żarrābī, “Ṭavāyef-e Mīān Āb,” Farhang-e Īrān Zamīn 10, 1341 Š./1963, pp. 394-96.

(P. Oberling)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 121

Cite this entry:

P. Oberling, “'Abd-Al-Kan,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 121; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-kan (accessed on 15 January 2014).