This paper considers how the Alash movement, the Kazakh national movement led by Russian-educated Kazakh intellectuals in the Russian Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century, redefined Kazakh ethnicity into the Kazakh nation. Aimed at modernizing Kazakh society by declaring itself a nation, the movement used the myth of common descent. It is not surprising, then, that the movement took on the name of Alash, a mythical figure believed to have been the father of all three Kazakh zhuz (tribal confederations). This paper examines the discourse around Kazakhness and its distinction from its Muslim neighbors with respect to five factors; the “true” myth of common descent of Kazakhs, Kazakh history as one of common fate, a nomadic way of life, the weak links to Islam among Kazakhs, and, finally, the legitimization of the Alash leaders as the legitimate speakers for the Kazakh nation. This analysis, in turn, may provide a better understanding of the ways in which social and intellectual movements can redefine belonging, depending on historical circumstances and opportunities and constraints in the social sphere.