Berke Khan (died 1266) was a Mongolian military leader and first Mongol empire commander to accept Islam. He was the grandson of Genghis Khan (founder of the Mongol empire). Berke was the sons of Jochi (eldest son of Genghis khan)
He thrived his brother Batu Khan of the Blue Horde (West) and was responsible for the first official establishment of Islam in a Khanate of the Mongol Empire. He sought help from Egyptian Mamluks to fight another Mongol Khanate based in Persia, The Ilkhanate of Halghu khan.
Berke Khan adopted Islam in the city of Bukhara in 1252. It is said that he met a caravan from Bukhara and questioned them about their faith. Berke was convinced to convert by the caravan travelers and became a Muslim. Berke then convinced his brother Tukh-timur to convert to Islam as well.
Berke soon became a devout Muslim. His conversion caused the Blue Horde to become primarily Muslim, while there were still animists and Buddhists among them.
Berke as a Muslim was angered by Hulagu’s destruction of Baghdad and was strongminded to deal with Hulagu Khan, who had killed the Caliph Al-Musta’sim, and whose regional ambitions in Syria and Egypt endangered Berke’s fellow Muslims.
In the meantime, the Ilkhanates led by Kitbuqa had fallen out with the Crusaders holding the coastline of Palestine, and the Mamluks secured a pact of impartiality with them, pass through their territory, and destroy the Ilkhanate army at the Battle of Ain Jalut. Kitbuqa was killed. Palestine and Syria were permanently lost to Mongols, only the border remained along the Tigris for the duration of Hulagu’s dynasty. Berke’s vow of vengeance against Hulagu had to wait until the latter’s return to his domains after the death of Möngke Khan.
Hulagu returned to his lands by 1262, but instead of being able to avenge his overthrows, was drawn into civil war with Berke and the Blue Horde. Berke Khan promised a defeat in his rage after the sack of Baghdad.
“He has sacked all the cities of the Muslims and has brought about the death of the Caliph. With the help of God, I will call him to account for so much innocent blood.
“Rashid-al-Din Hamdani quoted Berke Khan as telling his Mongols and Muslim subjects, in protest at the attack on Baghdad: Berke Khan kept his promise, allying himself with the Mamluks, (Berke sought an alliance with the Mamluk sultan Beybars against Hulagu) and when Hulagu returned to his lands in 1262, after the succession was finally settled with Kublai as the last Great Khan, and massed his armies to avenge Ain Jalut and attack the Mamluks, Berke Khan initiated a series of raids which drew Hulagu north to meet him.
This was the first open conflict between Mongols and signaled the end of the Mongol’s unified Empire.
The remnants of Berke Khan’s Blue Horde settled in the territories of what is now largely part of modern Pakistan, Afghanistan, SWAT valley, and North of Iran.
Don’t Forget to Read out are piece on Masjid-al-Ghamama.
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