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Related to Mahdism: Mahdist, The Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad


(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 ?
(1993), 'Islamic hegemonies in the Sudan: Sufism, Mahdism and Islamism" in Louis Brenner, ed.
Mansharof, "The Doctrine of Mahdism in the Ideological and Political Philosophy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi," Inquiry & Analysis # 357 (May 2007)MEMRI,
In order to understand the Iranian Islamic Revolution, it is essential to grasp the historical background for Iranian Mahdism. The Shi'a wing of the Muslim movement believes that the authentic leader (Imam) of the Muslim community (the Ummah) must be a descendent of the Prophet through his daughter, Fatima, and her husband, Ali.
This defeat ended Mahdism as a military force but not as a spiritual and political reaction to Turkish and Egyptian rule.
Blunt became known as an ardent sympathizer with Muslim aspirations, and in The Future of Islam (1882) he directed attention to the forces that produced the movements of Pan-Islamism and Mahdism. Ideas About India (1885) was the result of two visits to that country, which confirmed his view of colonialism as exploitation.
Hogendorn, ~Revolutionary Mahdism and Resistance to Colonial Rule in the Sokoto Caliphate, 1905-1906', Journal of African History, 31, 2 (1990), pp.
President Al-Bashir affirmed that the Nuba Mountains people are a genuine component of the Sudanese society and had a unique history in the national struggle for the independence and they were known for support to the Mahdism Revolution, adding that the Nuba citizens had a remarkable contribution in building the national army.
Moreover, his Mahdism, at least as it appears in this text, was focused on the Christian advance on Jerusalem and might have been motivated by the ongoing pressure from Christians on the Iberian peninsula rather than on reform of the Islamic community.
History reminds the people of South Sudan that the Aliab-Dinka rebelled against the Mahdism and the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium rule from 1899-1956.
All the talk and piety surrounding the supposed coming of the Mahdi also permits Iranians who subscribe to Mahdism to begin sidestepping the precepts of the mullahs as unnecessary, for it is believed the messiah will establish the perfect polity and reward those who heralded his coming.
I along with several others was apprised of a conference on Mahdism sponsored by the Bright Future Institute of Qom.
He said that the aggressions being done by the People's Movement prove that it is a doll in the hands of Zionism and the West, pointing to the rich history of the Sudanese nation and Mahdism in resisting the targeting and hegemony.