Robert Irwin on a relatively little-known episode of Inner Asian movement into Egypt:
As has already been noted, Mongol immigrants were settled in al-Husayniyya as early as the 1260s. In the years 1294 to 1296 a new wave of immigrants, the Oirats (that is, the western tribe of Mongols, also known as Kalmucks), deserted to the Mamluks, and Sultan Kitbugha settled them in al-Husayniyya. The Arab chroniclers remarked on a number of things concerning the Oirats: First, that they were not Muslims and therefore did not observe Ramadan and also un-Islamically clubbed horses about the head before eating them. Second, that they were astonishingly beautiful, and therefore Oirat women were much sought-after as brides by the Mamluk elite. Also, according to al-Maqrizi’s Khiṭaṭ, the Oirats “became known for their zu’ara (gangsterism) and shujā’a (boldness), and they were called al-Badūra. So an individual Oirat might be called al-Badr such-and-such. They adopted the dress of futuwwa and they carried weapons. Stories about these people proliferated.” Later on their fortunes declined, and many ended up working as menial servants in the Citadel. These Mongol immigrants may be seen as the medieval Cairene precursors of the Sicilian mafiosi of New York. It also seems likely that they organized their activities on the basis of futuwwa lodges. (Indeed it is possible that there was no such thing as popular futuwwa in Egypt prior to the arrival of the Oirats and that they brought its rituals with them from Ilkhanid Iraq. While al-Maqrizi clearly did not think that the Oirats were Muslims, they may still have thought of themselves as such.)
Irwin, R. (2004). Futuwwa: Chivalry and Gangsterism in Medieval Cairo. In Necipoğlu, G., Behrens-Abouseif, D., & Contadini, A. (Eds.), Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, XXI, 161-170.