This article provides a Muslim perspective on the eighteenth-century Qing conquest of Xinjiang. It explores the career of Emin Khwaja, a leader of the Muslim community of Turfan and the most prominent Muslim ally in the Qing conquest. I investigate how the notion of “protection” (ḥimāyat in Arabic), a key concept in the Central Asian Muslim understanding of religious and political patronage, informed Emin's decision to ally himself with the Qing. I argue that Emin understood his alliance with the “infidel” Manchu not as a collaboration in betrayal of Islam but as a positive policy to achieve security and prosperity of the Muslim community in the changing political and commercial environment of eighteenth-century Eurasia. Emin was able to build a local coalition of Muslim commercial interests for the support of the Qing, while promoting his standing within the regional political hierarchy of Muslim Central Asia.

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