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(mä`dē) [Arab.,=he who is divinely guided], in Sunni IslamIslam
, [Arab.,=submission to God], world religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded in the 7th cent., Islam is the youngest of the three monotheistic world religions (with Judaism and Christianity). An adherent to Islam is a Muslim [Arab.,=one who submits].
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, the restorer of the faith. He will appear at the end of time to restore justice on earth and establish universal Islam. The Mahdi will be preceded by al-Dajjal, a Muslim antichrist, who will be slain by Jesus. This belief is not rooted in the Qur'an but has its origins in Jewish ideas about the Messiah and in the Christian belief of the second coming of Jesus. Among the ShiitesShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
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 the concept of the Mahdi takes a different form (see imamimam
[Arab.,=leader], in Islam, a recognized leader or a religious teacher. Among the Sunni the term refers to the leader in the Friday prayer at the mosque; any pious Muslim may function as imam.
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In the history of Islam, many men have arisen who claimed to be the Mahdi. They usually appeared as reformers antagonistic to established authority. The best known of these in the West was Muhammad Ahmad, 1844–85, a Muslim religious leader in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He declared himself in 1881 to be the Mahdi and led a war of liberation from the oppressive Egyptian military occupation. He died soon after capturing Khartoum. In his reform of Islam the Mahdi forbade the pilgrimage to Mecca and substituted the obligation to serve in the holy war against unbelievers. His followers, known as Mahdists, for a time made pilgrimages to his tomb at Omdurman. The final defeat of the Mahdists in 1898 at Omdurman by an Anglo-Egyptian army under Lord KitchenerKitchener, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl
, 1850–1916, British field marshal and statesman. Trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (1868–70), he had a brief period of service in the French army
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 gave Great Britain control of Sudan.


See P. M. Holt, The Mahdist State in the Sudan (2d ed. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the Muslim messiah or savior.

Among the Shiites, the Mahdi is the “hidden” imam. The teachings about the Mahdi attracted the oppressed and exploited masses who believed that the Mahdi would appear before the end of the world and would restore justice on earth. In medieval and modern times, belief in the Mahdi has been widespread in antifeudal and national liberation movements.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the title assumed by Mohammed Ahmed. ?1843--85, Sudanese military leader, who led a revolt against Egypt (1881) and captured Khartoum (1885)
2. Islam any of a number of Muslim messiahs expected to forcibly convert all mankind to Islam
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Al-Sonaid said that protection of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposition to the presence of foreign forces and assignment of a timetable to expel them are among Abdul Mahdi's priorities.
"One of his (Mahdi's) conditions to accept the position of Prime Minister was to be able to choose qualified technocrats and those who are capable of carrying out their duties independently based on government directives," said Halim Al Aaraji, an Iraqi journalist and analyst based in Baghdad.
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, also known as Abou Tourab, was a member of the radical Islamic group Ansar Eddine, a Malian armed jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Al Mahdi led a group of radicals who destroyed 14 of Timbuktu's 16 mausoleums in 2012 because they considered them "totems of idolatry".
The order for his arrest for treason was approved personally by Bashir after an RSF commander complained that Mahdi's comments would demoralize troops, according to a family member who recently visited the NUP leader in prison.
A Lebanese national, Mahdi began his career after completing a course at Shouf Technical College in Lebanon.
The popular belief in the coming appearance of the Mahdi is deeply rooted in both Sunni and Shiite Islamic traditions.
We are holding on to our old positions and there is no remarkable change in the nature of our positions," Abdul Mahdi, told the Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Secretary-general of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, Habibollah Askar-Oladi, met with the president and told him rumors that link Ahmadinejad to the Mahdi were dangerous and especially rumors that he converses with him, the pro-government Jahan News reported.
She caught up with the pick-up when it got stuck at a nearby traffic signal and demanded they hand back Mahdi, despite threats to kill her.
Magistrates banned Mahdi from keeping horses for life after he pleaded guilty to cruelty charges in a court case prosecuted by the RSPCA.
SHIITE cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganise the force, an aide said yesterday.