ʿABDALLĀH KHAN UZBEK, 10th/16th century Mughal noble and general and also briefly an autonomous ruler. His mother, ʿĀyeša Solṭān Be gom, was a daughter of the Timurid sultan, Ḥosayn Bāyqarā; and her mother, Zobayda Āḡāča, was a granddaughter of the ʿArabshahid Tīmūr Šayḵ (Ḥabīb al-sīar [Bombay], II, p. 206; Bābornāma, tr., pp. 267, 273, n.; Homāyūnnāma, pp. 208, 296-97). ʿĀyeša Solṭān was first married to Qāsem Solṭān, to whom she bore a son, Qāsem Ḥosayn Solṭān. After her husband’s death, she was given to his kinsman (brother?) Borān (Borhān) Solṭān in a yīnkālīk (levirate) marriage, from which issued ʿAbdallāh Solṭān. (On the problematic chronology of these events, see Beveridge, Homāyūnnāma, p. 209.)
By 936/1530 ʿAbdallāh was in the Mughal military service; he drew Bābor’s notice as “now serving me and though young, not doing badly” (Bābornāma, tr., p. 267). Possibly he had accompanied Qāsem Ḥosayn Solṭān from Khorasan to India in 933/1526, since Qāsem had led a contingent of 500, including various prominent Shaibanid Uzbeks, in Bābor’s cause (Bābornāma, tr., pp. 550, 589, 631; Homāyūnnāma, p. 100). This force became available at a crucial moment and was thrown into the battle against Rānā Sāngā (Bābornāma, tr., 556). ʿAbdallāh may have attracted the king’s attention at that time. Qāsem Ḥosayn Solṭān continued to serve under Bābor and Homāyūn, and apparently ʿAbdallāh did also. When Homāyūn was routed at Chausa (946/1539), ʿĀyeša Solṭān was drowned or killed (Homāyūnnāma, p. 30). Her sons accompanied Homāyūn during his wanderings in the Panjab and Sind (Jawhar Āftābčī, Taḏkerat al-wāqeʿāt, tr. in W. Erskine, History of India under Báber and Humáyun, London, 1854, II, pp. 205f.; Akbarnāma, tr. I, pp. 355-60). They eventually defected to Kāmrān’s faction in Qandahār, as did most of the Uzbeks, but rejoined Homāyūn when he retook Qandahār and Kabul (Akbarnāma, I, pp. 370, 396, 465; Bāyazīd Bayāt, Taḏkera-ye Homāyūn va Akbar, Calcutta, 1941, pp. 51-52, 86-87, 97-99; Tārīḵ-e Rašīdī, tr., p. 484; Tārīḵ-e Sind, tr. M. H. Siddiqi, in History of Arghuns and Tarkhans of Sind, Sind, 1972, p. 89, n. 3). They also accompanied Homāyūn in the Balḵ and Badaḵšān campaigns of 953-54/1548-49 (Akbarnāma I, pp. 527, 550, 558).
Qāsem Ḥosayn Solṭān does not figure in Homāyūn’s reconquest of Hindustan and so may have died about that time. But ʿAbdallāh, now married to a daughter of Qāsem Barlās, a Qazāq sultan of the line of Jūǰī, played a prominent role, along with his father-in-law, in the restoration of Homāyūn and in the wars against the Sūr Afghans. Under Akbar, he distinguished himself in the battle of Panipat (5 November 1556) and received the title of Šaǰāʿat Khan and the ǰāgīr (toyūl) of Kalpi. He then joined the imperial troops against Khan Zamān (ʿAlī-qolī Uzbek), governor of Jaunpur. In the following year he also took part in the recovery of Malwa from Bāz Bahādor; to facilitate its reconquest, he was given broad authority and the rank of panǰhazārī (5,000; Akbarnāma, tr., II, pp. 260f.). In 974/1564 Akbar became wary of his power, however, and proceeded to subdue him. ʿAbdallāh, after brief resistance, fled with his son to Čangīz Khan in Gujerat. But the latter was pressured to dismiss him. Returning to Malwa, ʿAbdallāh eventually found refuge with his former opponent, Khan Zamān, at Jaunpur. The circumstances and date of his death are obscure.
ʿAbdallāh’s conduct was motivated by more than personal ambition. The Bāyqarā group in Bābor’s entourage, including the Shaibanid Uzbeks, were seeking a stable seat of power after their displacement from Khorasan. They tended to be disloyal toward Bābor and Homāyūn, opting, instead, to show sympathy with Kāmrān and later with Mīrzā Ḥakīm, both of whom held Kabul. ʿAbdallāh’s failure paralleled that of Khan Zamān and others.
Bābornāma, tr. A. S. Beveridge, London, 1921.
Homāyūnnāma of Golbadan Bēgom, tr. idem, London, 1902.
Akbarnāma, tr., II, passim. Āʾīn-e Akbarī, tr., I, p. 337.
(M. H. Siddiqi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 199-200
M. H. Siddiqi, “Abdallah Khan Uzbek,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 199-200; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdallah-khan-uzbek (accessed on 17 January 2014).