1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan

By Razib Khan | August 5, 2010 12:38 am

473px-YuanEmperorAlbumGenghisPortraitIn 2003 a groundbreaking historical genetics paper reported results which indicated that a substantial proportion of men in the world are direct line descendants of Genghis Khan. By direct line, I mean that they carry Y chromosomes which seem to have come down from an individual who lived approximately 1,000 years ago. As Y chromosomes are only passed from father to son, that would mean that the Y is a record of one’s patrilineage. Genghis Khan died ~750 years ago, so assuming 25 years per generation, you get about 30 men between the present and that period. In more quantitative terms, ~10% of the men who reside within the borders of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan may carry his Y chromosome, and so ~0.5% of men in the world, about 16 million individuals alive today, do so. Since 2003 there have been other cases of “super-Y” lineages. For example the Manchu lineage and the Uí Néill lineage. The existence of these Y chromosomal lineages, which have burst upon the genetic landscape like explosive stars sweeping aside all other variation before them, indicates a periodic it “winner-take-all” dynamic in human genetics more reminiscent of hyper-polygynous mammals such as elephant seals. As we do not exhibit the sexual dimorphism which is the norm in such organisms, it goes to show the plasticity of outcome due to the flexibility of human cultural forms.

ResearchBlogging.orgJason Goldman of Thoughtful Animal reminded me of the 2003 paper a few days ago, so I thought it would be useful to review it again for new readers (as I know most of you have not been reading for 7 years!). To understand how one Y chromosomal lineage can have such a wide distribution across such a large proportion of the human race, here is a quote attributed to Genghis Khan:

The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms.

You’re probably more familiar with the paraphrase in Conan the Barbarian.

The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols:

We have identified a Y-chromosomal lineage with several unusual features. It was found in 16 populations throughout a large region of Asia, stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea, and was present at high frequency: ∼8% of the men in this region carry it, and it thus makes up ∼0.5% of the world total. The pattern of variation within the lineage suggested that it originated in Mongolia ∼1,000 years ago. Such a rapid spread cannot have occurred by chance; it must have been a result of selection. The lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and we therefore propose that it has spread by a novel form of social selection resulting from their behavior.

What is social selection? In this context it’s pretty obvious, the Mongol Empire was the personal property of the “Golden Family,” the family of Genghis Khan. More precisely this came to consist of the descendants of Genghis Khan’s four sons by his first and primary wife, Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei, and Tolui. Like descent from the gods in the mythology of the Classical World, or the House of David in medieval Christian monarchies, a line back to Genghis Khan became a necessary precondition for fitness to be a ruler in the centuries after the rise of the Mongol Empire across much of Asia.

To me the power and fury of the Mongol expansion, the awe and magnetism which Genghis Khan’s bloodline held for Asiatic societies in the wake of their world conquest, is attested to by the fact that descent from Genghis Khan became a mark of prestige even within Islamic societies. Timur claimed a relationship to Chagatai. His descendants in India, the Timurids, retained pride in their Genghiside heritage. In Russia among the Muslim Tatars and in Central Asia among the Uzbeks descent from Genghis Khan was a major calling card for any would-be warlord. This is peculiar in light of the fact that Genghis Khan, and his near descendants, were non-Muslims! Not only were they non-Muslims, but the Mongol assault on West Asian Muslims societies was particularly deleterious; it is generally assumed that Iran and Mesopotamia’s relatively productive irrigation system were wrecked during the Mongol conquests to the point where it took centuries for them to rebound to their previous levels of productivity. More symbolically, it was the Mongols who finally extinguished the Abbasid Caliphate.

In Muslim societies pride of place is given to Sayyids, descendants of Muhammad through his grandsons Hasan and Husain. Naturally this is often fictive, but that matters little. In fact in the Golden Horde, the northwestern region of the Mongol Empire which eventually gave rise to the Tatars who imposed the yoke on the Russians, non-Genghiside warlords produced fictive genealogies claiming descent from Muhammad as a way to negate the lineage advantage of their Genghiside rivals. But it is still shocking that there was even a question as to whether descent from Genghis Khan was more prestigious than descent from the prophet of Islam!

And the power of descent from Genghis Khan, the monopoly of the commanding heights which his male line descendants still felt to be theirs by right of their blood, obtained at the heart of his Empire, Mongolia, down to a very late period. The last of the great steppe polities, the Zunghar Empire, was defeated by the Manchus in part because it was led by a subset of the Oirat Mongols, a tribe whose leadership were not descended in the male line from the Golden Family, and so could not convince the Genghiside nobility of eastern Mongolia to align with them. From the perspective of moderns, who tend to conceive of historical patterns and forces in economic, or at least ideological, terms, this fixation on blood descent seems ridiculous. I suspect that many pre-modern people, who were accustomed to small family groups and kin networks in a way we are not, would find our own surprise rather perplexing.

So what did they find in the paper? First, they discovered that there was a particular Y chromosomal haplotype, a set of unique genetic markers, which was found across much of Asia. This haplotype seems to have expanded relatively recently, as was evident from small number of mutational steps connecting all of the local variants. Figure 1 illustrates the phylogenetic network:

stardd1

The shaded area represents the star-phylogeny. It’s characterized by a core haplotype, a nearby set of variants separated by one mutational step. This suggests that the genetic variant has risen rapidly in frequency before mutations had time to build up variation and generate a more complex topology. Observe the greater complexity of the network for other Y lineages. Here is the text which explains the factors behind the rise of the Genghis Khan haplotype:

This rise in frequency, if spread evenly over ~34 generations, would require an average increase by a factor of ~1.36 per generation and is thus comparable to the most extreme selective events observed in natural populations, such as the spread of melanic moths in 19th-century England in response to industrial pollution…We evaluated whether it could have occurred by chance. If the population growth rate is known, it is possible to test whether the observed frequency of a lineage is consistent with its level of variation, assuming neutrality…Using this method, we estimated the chance of finding the low degree of variation observed in the star cluster, with a current frequency of 8%, under neutral conditions. Even with the demographic model most likely to lead to rapid increase of the lineage, double exponential growth, the probability was <10−237; if the mutation rate were 10 times lower, the probability would still be <10−10. Thus, chance can be excluded: selection must have acted on this haplotype.

Could biological selection be responsible Although this possibility cannot be entirely ruled out, the small number of genes on the Y chromosome and their specialized functions provide few opportunities for selection…It is therefore necessary to look for alternative explanations. Increased reproductive fitness, transmitted socially from generation to generation, of males carrying the same Y chromosome would lead to the increase in frequency of their Y lineage, and this effect would be enhanced by the elimination of unrelated males….

A factor of 1.36 per generation is crazy high. In theory of course drift could do this, but in theory the molecules of gas in a room could all congeal to one corner. As noted in the text the Y chromosome is not rich in biologically useful genes. It may be that in the near future we’ll find something peculiar about the carriers of this particular haplotype, but until then, this map speaks for itself:

star2

The haplotype we’re focusing on clearly tracks the boundaries of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan. The main exception to this are the Hazara people of central Afghanistan, who importantly have a claim of paternal descent from Mongol soldiers who fled turmoil in Persia after the collapse of Mongol rule over that nation. Also, the shaded areas are regions where the population density was, and is, relatively low in relation to later societies which the Mongols conquered in East and West Asia. Finally, the shaded areas were under domination of Genghiside lineages for far longer than Yuan China or the Ilkhanate of Persia. In Mongolia, northeast China, and throughout Central Asia, Genghiside lineages were paramount down to the era of the “Great Game” between Russia and the British Empire.

The 2003 paper isn’t the last word. Here’s a table from a 2007 paper which surveyed groups which include many groups currently resident within the Russian Federation:

star3

Of interest in this table is the relatively higher frequency among the Kazakh sample than among the Kalmyks. The Kalmyks are a people who were a fragment of the aforementioned Zunghar Empire who took refuge in the Russian Empire. They make the claim to be the only indigenous people of Europe who are Buddhists (Kalmykia is to the west of the Urals and Volga). Though more closely related to the Mongols proper than the Turkic Kazakhs in culture and genes, they do not seem to carry the lineage of Genghis Khan, as was reputedly the case in the 18th century when the Genghiside led Mongol tribes fought them as arriviste interlopers. In contrast the Kazakhs have presumably mixed for centuries with the remnants of the Golden Horde. It is interesting to note that the 2007 Genghis Khan biopic Mongol had funding from the government of Kazakhstan, again attesting to the prestige which he still retains outside of Mongolia in Inner Asia.

Let’s jump back to the conclusion of the original paper:

…Several scenarios, which are not mutually exclusive, could explain its rapid spread: (1) all populations carrying star-cluster chromosomes could have descended from a common ancestral population in which it was present at high frequency; (2) many or most Mongols at the time of the Mongol empire could have carried these chromosomes; (3) it could have been restricted to Genghis Khan and his close male-line relatives, and this specific lineage could have spread as a result of their activities. Explanation 1 is unlikely because these populations do not share other Y haplotypes, and explanation 2 is difficult to reconcile with the high Y-haplotype diversity of modern Mongolians…The historically documented events accompanying the establishment of the Mongol empire would have contributed directly to the spread of this lineage by Genghis Khan and his relatives, but perhaps as important was the establishment of a long-lasting male dynasty. This scenario shows selection acting on a group of related men; group selection has been much discussed…and is distinguished by the property that the increased fitness of the group is not reducible to the increased fitness of the individuals. It is unclear whether this is the case here. Our findings nevertheless demonstrate a novel form of selection in human populations on the basis of social prestige. A founder effect of this magnitude will have influenced allele frequencies elsewhere in the genome: mitochondrial DNA lineages will not be affected, since males do not transmit their mitochondrial DNA, but, in the simplest models, the founder male will have been the ancestor of each autosomal sequence in 4% of the population and X-chromosomal sequence in 2.7%, with implications for the medical genetics of the region….

Garrett Hardin, pioneer of the “tragedy of the commons” model, also asserted that “nice guys finish last.” From what I know of the history it does not seem that Genghis Khan was any more evil or sociopathic than Julius Caesar, Charlemagne or Alexander the Great. What he had on his side was simply scale of success. So I don’t know if it truly is an example of nice guys finishing last. The biography gleaned from The Secret History of the Mongols doesn’t indicate the level of self-destructive sociopathy of Stalin or Ivan the Terrible. Rather, Genghis Khan was able to gather around himself a cadre of followers who were willing to stick with him through thick and thin.

In the life and legacy of the great Mongol warlord I suspect we see the patterns of male domination and power projection which were the norm after the decline of hunter-gatherers, and before the rise of the mass consumer society. During this period complex civilizations built on rents extracted from subsistence agriculturalists arose. These civilizations were dominated by powerful men, who could accrue to themselves massive surpluses, and translate those surpluses into reproductive advantage. This was not possible in the hunter-gatherer world where reproductive variance was constrained by the reality that allocation of resources was relatively equitable from person to person. But with agriculture and village society inequality shot up, and the winner-take-all dynamic came to the fore. And so the appearance on the scene genetically of super-Y lineages. Over the past 200 years the pendulum has started to shift back, thanks to the spread of Western values and normative monogamy, which dampens the potential unequal reproductive outcomes between the rich and the poor.

Addendum: Since my surname is Khan, I should admit that I am not a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through the male line. I’m R1a1a. In South Asia “Khan” was an honorific for Muslims.

Image Credit: National Palace Museum in Taipei

Citation: ZERJAL, T. (2003). The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols The American Journal of Human Genetics, 72 (3), 717-721 DOI: 10.1086/367774

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Genetics, History
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  • http://scienceblogs.com/thoughtfulanimal Jason G. Goldman

    Awesome post!

  • http://phylogenous.wordpress.com Kele

    I was hoping you would write a post about this – it’s such a fantastic mix of science and history. Great post.

  • http://phylogenous.wordpress.com Kele

    Also, what are the numbers for Charlemagne and other “super-Y” lineages?

  • bioIgnoramus

    “Khan” what you can, and can what you Khan’t.

  • Jumblepudding

    So is an indicator of the Khan lineage a preference for fur hats, as suggested in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

  • onur

    What is really important is the quantity of the overall effect of the Mongol invasion (not just the Genghiside lineage) on the genomes of non-Mongolian ethnicities. I wonder if it is testable.

  • John Emerson

    We know know Genghis’s genealogy, and his male ancestors Yesugei, Bartan-ba’atur, and Qabul Qan (father, grandfather, and great-grandfather) have even more descendants than he did. In fact, it seems more than likely that the individual picked out by these tests is one of these three. Three of Genghis’s brothers and one of his uncles were highly favored within his empire, and Qabul Khan briefly dominated the Mongol steppe in the early 12th century.

    This game can be played ad infinitem, of course, but above Qabul Khan the genealogy is less reliable, and the more distant relatives of Genghis probably had relatively little advantage.

    It’s notable, however, that Genghis’s first cousins and the generation of his father’s brothers and cousins had much less advantage than might have been expected, since Genghis killed at least half of them.

  • John Emerson

    I mentioned to Razib awhile back that the line of Napoleon I and his brothers is almost extinct (there are two living male Bonapartes of that line, father and son, and the son’s two children are adopted (one Vietnamese in origin).

    Alexander was bisexual and unenthusiastic, tending toward celibacy. Julius Caesar was also more enthusiastically bisexual (“every woman’s husband and every man’s wife”) but it also was suspected that all of his relationships were politically calculated. Karl XII of Sweden, who came close to making Sweden a great power in the place of Prussia and Russia, was so uninterested that his counselors considered putting aphrodisiacs in his food (he never did marry). Genghis had several hundred wives, of whom only eight were important to him, and that size of harem is also seen in the Muslim world and among the Rus ca. 1000 BC. Charlemagne has children by 8 women, as his monkish biographers noted without comment.

  • John Emerson

    In Russia the language of the ruling group switched from Mongol to Turkish quite early — the mass of the troops were Turks. So many of the Tatars were probably Mongol in descent.

    In the Secret History there’s a rumor that Genghis son Jochi, who ruled the West, was not Genghis’s son (his mother had been captured by enemies). This would skew the results a bit.

    Biran’s book “Chingis Khan” (the scholarly spelling) talks about Genghis’s role in Muslim culture. Despite his pagan practices, Muslims needed to believe that his power was from God, punishing Islam for its sinfulness. He plays a role in Islam a bit like that of Alexander the Great, who is an important figure in Muslim legend.

  • Steve C

    Another historical figure to have likely left many descendants is Attila the Hun. He is reputed to have had 300 wives and, undoubtedly, many offspring. The early Bulgar khans may have been his descendants.

    Samo, the Frankish unifier of Slavic tribes in the 7th century could also have left a disproportionate number of descendants.

  • onur

    He plays a role in Islam a bit like that of Alexander the Great, who is an important figure in Muslim legend.

    But Alexander the Great’s role in Islam directly stems from the Qur’an (according to the mostly held view of the traditional Islamic scholars beginning from the earliest centuries of Islam as well of the modern historians who investigated the subject, the Dhul-Qarnayn character in the Qur’an is Alexander the the Great). There is no such reverence for Genghis in Islam (quite naturally as he lived many centuries after Muhammad) and instead the majority of Muslims have seen him as an evil man and condemned him from his time until the present day because of all the butchery and harm he and his lineage did to the Muslim world. Only among Central Asian (including then today’s Central Asia + some southern parts of Russia and Ukraine) Muslims he had a positive and even prominent role (an anomaly for Muslims), one reason for this positive and prominent role in Central Asia was that his line remained there (converting to Islam and assimilating to the Muslim Turkic culture of the Central Asian steppes) as strong political figures for many centuries. Such an anomaly didn’t happen anywhere else in the Islamic world other than Central Asia.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10546265581296919974 Rob

    Razib: In Is There Anything Good About Men? Baumeister expands upon several of the points made in your concluding paragraph.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Only among Central Asian (including then today’s Central Asia + some southern parts of Russia and Ukraine)

    what about south asia? i’ll take your world for it elsewhere, but my minimal interactions with brown muslim kind don’t indicate aversion to the surname khan at all (rather pride). since that’s 1/3 of the world’s muslims right there it’s not trivial. and of course the timurids ruled much of south asia for 250 years.

  • http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com Neuroskeptic

    So 1 in 200 men are descendants of Genghis and we also know there’s a lot of Neanderthal DNA hanging about – maybe these will form the basis of the insults of the new genetic age.

    “Descended from Genghis on both sides of his family”
    “Got the lions share of his parents already considerable Neanderthal ancestry”

  • onur

    Razib, the name “Khan” doesn’t have anything to do with Genghis and his lineage, it already existed in the Islamic world (among Turkic and Iranian peoples) before the Mongol invasion. It was originally a title used (until recent times) for rulers among Turkic and Iranian peoples and it ultimately descends from its ancient Turkic equivalent “Qaghan”. Mongols borrowed this term from the Turkic groups nearby them.

  • onur

    From his time until the present day, the overwhelming majority of the Muslims who knew or heard about him hated Genghis Khan (Central Asia is an exception here, but even there there were many Muslims who hated him), and this is very natural given what he and his immediate descendants did to the Muslims.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    onur, was it in common use in south asia before the timurids? i’ve never thought about this in detail.

  • onur

    Razib, even if the “Khan” name entered South Asia with the Timurids, it can have nothing to do with Genghis Khan. It was already a common ruler title and later also a male given name (never used alone, always attached to another name) among pre-Mongol Turkics and Iranians, so it is wrong to connect it to Genghis Khan.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    onur, i asked you are a direct question which i don’t know the answer to. if you don’t know either, just admit that. please don’t repeat things that i know, repackage what you’ve asserted, and then make assertions as to causality if your information is thin on the ground. again, if you do know the pattern of the frequency of the name in south asia as a function of time and the intentional significance of those who gave that name/title, tell me. if you don’t, don’t speculate based on what you know (you haven’t told me anything i didn’t know, though you have a stronger interpretation of that data than i do). you are making strong assertions about the whole sweep of the islamic world, so i assume you can tell me something about this particular issue which i haven’t explored in relation to south asian history. i do know that the timurids (mughals) were quite proud of their lineage back to timur, but am less clear of their attitude toward genghis khan. i am not aware how they reshaped the perception of ashrafs toward genghis khan, if at all.

    i am not interested in winning arguments. i allow wasteful rhetorical back and forths between others on these threads because most people seem to take interest in “winning” after they make an initial assertion. i’m not interested in that, and resent my time being wasted by that tendency. please keep that in mind for the future.

    citations are welcome. repetition of what you’ve said isn’t. i’ll do a lit search myself, but time can often be saved if others already know where to start.

    (i hope i’ve made my stance on this issue clear with other commenters as well; i wouldn’t participate in these threads at all if i thought i was going to not get some illumination, as opposed to argumentation)

  • onur

    My answer to your question is: I don’t know. I have never too deeply focused on South Asian history.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i’ll have to look into this issue more, a quick lit search isn’t clear. one point in relation to this discussion: the term “mughal” is etymologically derived from mongol. though the first mughals spoke chagatai turkish, and patronized persian culture. and i appreciate the directness of your response. hopefully our confusion on this specific point can be cleared up with a little digging.

  • bat

    This is an interesting article. As a Mongolian, I suggest that you-guys read Jack Weatherford’s 2 books about Chinggis (this is the correct Mongolian spelling) Khan where he discusses these things in very detailed ways.

    A minor point: In Mongolian history, there were 4 types of Khans: 1. Great Grand Khaan – Ikh Ezen Haan. This title is reserved only for Chinggis Khan himself as the Founder of the Mongol Empire. The official title of Chinggis Khan in Mongolia is “Ikh Ezen Bogd Chinggis Khaan” – Great Grand Lord Khan. 2. Grand Khaan – Ikh Haan. This is the title of those khans who ruled the entire Mongol Empire after the death of Chinggis Khan. There were only 4 Grand Khaans. 3. Baga Khan – Junior Khan. This is the title of those Mongol khans who ruled various parts of Mongol Empire – Yuan, Golden Horde, or Ilkhanate and so on. 4. Khan – This is the title of those khans who ruled various provinces of Mongolia during the Manchu Qing – 16-19 centuries.

    However, all khan title holders MUST come from the Golden Lineage – direct male descendent from Chinggis Khan and Queen Burt.

    You used the term “Golden family”. This is not precise. Golden Family means the Royal family, but Golden Lineage (Altan urag in Mongolian) means the direct male descendency from Temujin and Burt.

  • Doug1

    I wonder then if Genghis Khan may have materially contributed to the high IQ of China. Another boost perhaps on what the Confucian exam system for the Imperial Bureaucracy might have contributed?

  • dave

    So is this more from Genghis (and his brothers) having such a large # of offspring or from Genghis killing so many people he wasn’t related to? I assume the first, but I’m curious how much of a factor the second might be.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i suspect #1 is sufficient and necessary in a pre-modern context.

  • http://actualityscience.blogspot.com/ Justin Lapp (ActualityScience)

    Incredibly interesting. There are so many interesting statistical measures in genealogy, though most may be almost impossible to measure. I.E. which other ancestors have the largest fractions of the population as descendants.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    justin, perhaps runs of homozygosity?

  • Jonni Tee

    NB
    As Europe’s sole Mongolian Buddhist people, the Kalmyks didn’t ‘seek refuge’ in Russia – as nomads seeking refuge from Chinese persecution they migrated westwards and settled on the European steppes between the Volga and the Don – only later was this area annexed by Russia, causing the majority of Kalmyks to decide to return to Jungaria, as the lesser of two evils. There their relatives are today known as Oirats and the two populations still share the same western mongolian dialect and culture, in spite of 300 years apart.

  • John Emerson

    Onur, look at Biran’s book, which is historical.

    I was aware that there is no Koranic basis for any positive impression of Genghis Khan, since GK appeared many centuries after the Koran was produced. But thanks for reminding me anyway.

  • John Emerson

    p. 162: “The history of Cginggis and his heirs became an integral part of Muslim historiography and of other literary genres, and chinggis’s position as the revered forefather of many Muslim dynasties and peoples won him a place of prominence in Muslim literary tradition, unchallenged in the post-Muhammedan world by any other non-Muslim.

    The rise of nationalism, as discussed above, drove Chinggis into the fringes of the Muslim collective memory and returned him to his initial role of ultimate villain”.

  • onur

    “The history of Cginggis and his heirs became an integral part of Muslim historiography and of other literary genres, and chinggis’s position as the revered forefather of many Muslim dynasties and peoples won him a place of prominence in Muslim literary tradition, unchallenged in the post-Muhammedan world by any other non-Muslim.

    The rise of nationalism, as discussed above, drove Chinggis into the fringes of the Muslim collective memory and returned him to his initial role of ultimate villain.”

    John, as I don’t have the book, could you give some examples of non-Mongolian Muslim dynasties and peoples that are unrelated to the post-Chinggis Central Asia but revered him anyway?

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  • John Emerson

    Onur, why don’t you get the book and read it? You might learn something. Do they have libraries where you live? The Mughal dynasty is one case, and all Timurid dynasties, and all Chinggisid dynasties, which is a lot of them. I don’t know the status of post-Mongol Persia. Probably few Arab dynasties did.

    Like Razib, I find your assertive and often undocumented style extremely annoying. My initial statement should have been qualified in certain ways but with suitable qualifications was true. You had a correct instinct that the statement was overbroad but no particular knowledge or documentation to bring forward except what you know personally about present-day Islam. We’re talking about a 700 year period.

    Like Razib I have little interest in knocking chips off people’s shoulders.

  • onur

    John, I asked you a clever question (no need for modesty) that gets down to the heart of the matter, but you are instead resorting to the tactic of downplaying it and, worse still, questioning my objectivity in the whole matter as if you are trying to hide the truth.

    The Mughal dynasty is one case, and all Timurid dynasties, and all Chinggisid dynasties, which is a lot of them.

    The part of your comment I quoted above tells a lot. All the dynasties you mention here are Mongolian by origin and one way or another have blood relationship with Chinggis, so it is very normal for them to flatter him, acquit him and praise him even after converting to Islam. But my question wasn’t about them, as I already knew and mentioned their positive stance regarding Chinggis. My question was only about non-Mongolian Muslim dynasties and peoples that are unrelated to the post-Chinggis Central Asia. All you said regarding them is this:

    I don’t know the status of post-Mongol Persia. Probably few Arab dynasties did.

    That weakens your original claim that Chinggis played a role in Islam somewhat like Alexander the Great (who was a protector of true believers of Allah according the most widely sanctioned and popular interpretation of the Qur’anic verses about Dhul-Qarnayn throughout the Islamic history).

  • onur

    a protector of true believers of Allah

    OK, not necessarily just a protector of believers of Allah but probably even of many unbelievers as well according to the Islamic sources like the Qur’an, Hadith and Tafsir.

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  • onur

    Grammatical correction: “…according to the most widely sanctioned and…”

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  • John Emerson

    Go fuck yourself, Onur. You’re really unbearable. You’re always coming in with insultingly presented, undocumented assertions. Sometimes you have something to contribute and sometimes you don’t, and it’s not always clear which, and for that reason up until now I’ve always either ignored you are responded civilly.

    Here at GNXP there are a large number of people with varying degrees of knowledge on different topics. I brought something to the discussion, but I wasn’t able to document it the same day so I didn’t respond to your little speech. I came back with the documentation and you just came back with a different insult, and now we’re supposedly only talking about your second comment, since your first one was overbroad.

    So my original statement should have been “In the very considerable part of the Muslim world ruled by Timurids, Chingissids, or Moghuls, for a period of many centuries, ending with the rise of nationalism, (something I learned from rereading Biran, not from you), Genghis Khan [who is not in the Koran] had a favorable status modelled on that of Alexander [who is in the Koran: but really, these bracketed qualifications wouldn't have been necessary if you hadn't been here].

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the semi-positive status of Genghis wasn’t seen outside the indicated realm in some places and times, but I have no documentation. But all I have against that possibility is your bald assertion, which for me is worth nothing. (Who are you, anyway? Razib and I at least have real names).

    I am not willing to grant you the status of final arbiter here on all things that you feel that you are expert on. What you brought to this particular discussion would have been welcome coming from someone other than you, but your assholishness is too high a price to pay for what you bring to the discussion.

  • onur

    John, let me begin by introducing myself. I am Onur Dinçer (yes, this is my real name) and I am from and live in Turkey, a Muslim country with its culture and history. I know fairly well about Islam and Islamic history to make comments on these issues and know well that Chinggis and his descendants (even some of the Muslim ones) generally had a very negative role and image in the histories (I mean historical histories, not modernly invented ones) of places like Turkey, Iran, most of Afghanistan and Arab countries. Only his role in South Asian history is somewhat unclear to me as I don’t know the history of that region much and as it was conquered by Chinggis’ Muslim descendants and that may have blurred the situation.

    I don’t think I insulted you in any form whatsoever, I’ve been completely civil to you, but you openly insulted me in your last post, so I will not continue this discussion with you as it started to become ugly. And lastly, I am not an expert on these issues (I am not a historian or something like that) and have never claimed to be so.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    let’s just close this chapter, shall we? i think our ultimate aim is the same, to learn. so we’ll reset and figure it out in the future. onur, john has been a reader since 2003, and a friend as well, and i value his contributions. that being said, i perceive that you know quite a bit and am interested in learning from your perspectives (i’ve already learned some). the main issue here isn’t substance, but fostering a style which will allow us to move forward and learn despite our disagreements.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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