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Abakh Khoja, Apak Khoja, or more properly Āfāq Khwāja (? - 1693/94) was a religious and political leader in Kashgariamarker (in modern-day southern Xinjiang). He was also known as Khwāja Hidāyat Allāh (Hidayetullah Khoja).

Name spelling

In Chinese, Afaq Khoja's name is usually written as (Apake Huojia) or (Apa'er Huojia), occasionally just (Apa Huojia); khoja may also appear as (huozhuo).

Life of Afaq Khoja

Afaq Khoja was a great-grandson of the famous Naqshbandi Sufi teacher, Ahmad Kasani (1461 - 1542) (also known as Makhdūm-i`Azam, "the Great Master"), and was revered as a Sufi teacher in his own right.Among some Uyghur Muslims, he was considered a sayid, who is a relative of the prophet Muhammad.

Afaq Khoja seized power from the Chagatay dynasty of Yarkand by inviting Dzungar invaders through the secret diplomacy of the Dalai Lama. Afaq Khoja was a powerful ruler, controlling East Turkistan including Khotanmarker, Yarkand, Korlamarker, Kuchamarker and Aksumarker as well as Kashgarmarker.

As a result of the conflict with Iskhaki khoja ( known also as Kara Taghliks, i.e. "Black Mountaineers"), Afaq khoja was at one point expelled from Kashgaria, and is said to have invited the Dzungars in 1678, promising them 100,000 tangas (silver coins) for help and using recommendation letter from the 5th Dalai Lama, with whom he met in exile. The Dzungars, led by Galdan Boshughtu Khan (1670-1697), ousted Chagatay (Moghul) ruler Ismail Khan and then made Afaq and his descendants only nominal rulers of Kashgaria.

Afak Khoja died in 1694 and was succeeded in Yarkand Khanate by his son Yahya Khoja (r. 1694-1695). After Yahya Khoja death (he was killed) the last Moghul Khan of Kashgaria Muhammad Imin Sultan (Akbash Khan, r. 1695-1706) restored Chagatay dynasty of Yarkand, trying to organize resistance to Dzungar invasion, but finally he was expelled by khojas and fled to Indiamarker under protection of Moghul Empire.

Afaq Khoja and Islam in China

Afaq Khoja's influence spread far outside of Xinjiang. From 1671-72, he was preaching in Gansumarker (which then included parts of modern Qinghaimarker province), where his father Muhammad Yusuf had preached before. On that tour, he visited Xiningmarker (today's Qinghaimarker province), Lintaomarker, and Hezhou (now Linxia), and was said to convert some Hui and many Salars there to Naqshbandi Sufism.

According to the Chinese (Hui) followers of the Qadiriyya Sufi school, when Afāq Khoja was in Xiningmarker in 1672, he gave his blessing to 16-year-old Qi Jingyi (later also known as Hilal al-Din, or Qi Daozu (1656-1719)), who was then to introduce Qadiriyya into China proper. His two other spiritual descendants, Ma Laichi and Ma Mingxin, went to study in Central Asia and Arabia, and upon return to China founded two other Naqshbandi menhuans (brotherhoods) there: the Khufiyya and the Jahriyya, respectively.

The Afaqis

Khoja Afaq's descendants, known as the Āfāqi khoja, or the Aq Taghliqs, i.e. 'White Mountaineers', played an important part in East Turkestan's politics for almost two centuries after Afāq's death. They first ruled Kashgaria as Dzungars' vassals, but after the death of Dzungars' Galdan Khan managed to gain independence for a while.

The next strong Dzungar ruler, Tsewang Rabtan (1697-1727), subjugated Kashgaria again; to stay on the safe side, Dzungars this time were now to keep the Afaqi Khojas as hostages in the Ili region, and rule Kashgarian cities through Afaqis' rivals, the Ishaqi khoja -Karataghliks, i.e. 'Black Mountaineers'.

In the 1750s, two Afaqi Khoja descendants- brothers, Burhān al-Dīn and Khwāja-i Jahān, who had been held by Dzungars as hostages in Ili, aided the Manchu Qingmarker emperor Qianlong in annihilating the Dzungars ( from spring 1755 till summer 1757 around 300,000 Dzungars, no subject to gender and age, were massacred by the invading 300,000 (?) Qianlong Army, which executed a official order, given to General Jiao Hui in spring 1756 by the Son of Heaven, to liquidate the whole Dzungar nation till last baby, those who survived were killed by the following epidemic of smallpox, total loss of the population in Dzungaria reached 1,000 000, transforming it eventually into the Land without people; at the same time Khoja Jahan, executing Khoja Burhan ad-Din order, razed to ground in 1755 both Dzungar temples, Golden and Silver, in Ghuljamarker and Kainuk cities of Ili Rivermarker Valley, that were built by Galdan Boshugtu Khan and represented the sacred symbols of Dzungar Power) and establishing Qing hegemony over Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin in which they waged in 1755-1756 a bloody war against their old rivals- Karataghliks, who previously took total control of Kashgariamarker since 1752, having terminated annual tribute payments to Dzungars. However, as the two eventually victorious khojas began to seek more independence for themselves, they soon ( in autumn 1757 ) came into conflict with the Qing power. Having lost Yarkand and Kashgar to the Qing armies in 1759, they fled to Badakhshan, where they were promptly killed by the local ruler, Sultān Shāh, who sent their heads to the Qing.

Accoridng to a legend, Iparhan, granddaughter of Apak Khoja was given to emperor Qianlong as concubine. Under Qing auspice, Khojijan rulers of city states often fell out of favor of the hegemonic power and had to flee to Uzbek protection in the Khanate of Kokandmarker.

By 19th century, prominent Afaqi Khojas (Khojijans) in exile in Kokand sought to influence their former domains through preaching or allying with new imperialist powers of Russiamarker and Great Britain. It was during the 1800s that two major attempts were launched from Kokand to claim the "Six City State of Tarim Basin" ( Altishahr ) from Qing domination. These were the British-supported Jihangir Rebellion (1826-1828) and the usurpation of Kashgariamarker by Kokand retainer Yaqub Beg (1864-1877) who recognized Ottoman suzerainty.

Well into 20th century, there were still local princely families of Khojijan descent. The Chinese warlord and Military Governor (Duban) of Sinkiang general Sheng Shicai (April 12,1933- August, 29 ,1944) restored the status of several of these local rulers to facilitate his rule.

Afāq Khoja Mausoleum

Afāq Khoja's mausoleum is considered the holiest Muslim site in Xinjiang. It is located at in Haohan Village ( ), a northeastern suburb some 5 km from the city centre of Kashgarmarker. First built ca. 1640, initially as Muhammad Yusuf tomb, the beautiful tiled mausoleum contains the tombs of five generations of the Afāqi family, providing resting places for its 72 members, both men and women.



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