ʿABD-AL-RAḤMĀN B. SOYŪNJ, an Uzbek amir of the Ūšūn (or Oyšūn) tribe (olūs) and a major military-administrative figure in Balḵ in the first half of the 11th/17th century. The record of his career, which spans more than three decades, begins with his participation in a campaign in Badaḵšān. The Toghay-timurid (Janid) ruler of Bokhara, Valī-Moḥammad Khan, had sent his nephew, Naḏr-Moḥammad b. Dīn-Moḥammad, to suppress the “Chaḡatāy mīrza,” Mīrzā Ḥasan, apparently in 1014/1605. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān was at this time one of Naḏr-Moḥammad’s amirs, and when the latter was appanaged at Balḵ the following year, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān accompanied him. Between 1015/1606 and 1019/1610 he was active in the military operations against two Safavid-supported Shaibanid claimants of the khanate of Bokhara and Balḵ, Jahāngīr Solṭān and Moḥammad-Salīm Solṭān. Sometime about 1020/1611, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān was appointed governor (ḥākem) of Andḵūd, a strategic garrison town in the western marches of Balḵ. His prime responsibility was to defend the Balḵ region against Safavid/Qezelbāš interference in Toghay-timurid politics. He was instrumental in foiling the Safavid-supported attempts of Rostam Solṭān b. Valī-Moḥammad Khan to regain Bokhara and Balḵ which his father had lost to Emām-qolī and his half-brother Naḏr-Moḥammad in 1019/1610.
In the early 1030s/1620s, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān was removed as governor of Andḵūd by Naḏr-Moḥammad and named guardian (atālīq) to the latter’s eldest son, ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz (b. 1023/1614). The latter was then appanaged at Ḵatlān, the administration of which was generally in ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān’s hands. His administration there was noted principally for his putting an end to Qerghiz raids in Ḵatlān and his pursuit of the Qerghiz to their lands “near Kāšḡar.”
In 1037/1628, following the death of the Mughal emperor, Jahāngīr, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān and prince ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz launched an abortive campaign against Kabul. The author of the Baḥr al-asrār asserts that it was merely to protect Kabul from a rumored Qezelbāš plan to annex the city from Qandahār, which the Safavid-Qezelbāš forces had taken from the Mughal six years earlier. ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz and his atālīq were unable to take Kabul and returned to Ḵatlān.
Three years later, the pair were recalled by Naḏr-Moḥammad to Balḵ, and ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz was reappanaged at Maymana. In 1041/1632, a campaign into Safavid Khorasan was launched from Maymana. Again ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān played a leading role in the assaults on Morḡāb, Mārūčāq and Panǰdeh, all of which were under Šāmlū control. In 1044/1634 in the face of Naḏr-Moḥammad’s express prohibition, ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz and ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān again opened a campaign into Khorasan. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, leading his own force, raided Bādḡīs, crossed the river Morḡāb and, skirting Herat to the north, headed towards Ḵᵛāf and Bāḵarz. But Qezelbāš resistance forced him to turn south towards Herat. He raided up to Gāzorgāh and then returned to Jīǰaktū, part of the territory of Maymana. For his and ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz’s disobedience the two were summoned to Balḵ, where they tendered apologies. Both men then went to the supreme Khan, Emām-qolī, in Bokhara, and again sought forgiveness. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, unable to exert a restraining influence on ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz, was replaced as atālīq-e solṭānī in 1045/1635 by Orāz Bī of the Ming olūs. The government of Qondoz was conferred on ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, and he continued as governor there at least until 1050/1640-41, after which time information about him ceases. While governor at Qondoz, he assisted the Bokharan Khan in 1048/1638 against a Qazāq problem east of Samarqand. And in early 1049/early summer 1639, he led a reconnaissance patrol into the Hindu Kush to investigate reports that Shah Jahān was preparing a military force at Kabul for a campaign against Balḵ. He is said to have had very close relations with the intelligentsia at Qondoz.
Maḥmūd b. Amīr Valī, Baḥr al-asrār fī manāqeb al-aḵyār, India Office Library ms. no. 575, fols. 171a, 200b-203b, 207a-209a, 218a, 223b-227a, 227b, 231b-232a, 240a-b, 263a-b, 292a-293a.
(R. D. MacChesney)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 145-146
R. D. MacChesney, “'Abd-Al-Rahman B. Soyunj,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 145-146; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-rahman-b-soyunj-an-uzbek-amir-in-balk-17th-century (accessed on 16 January 2014).