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Mahdist Revolt

Andrew J. Waskey

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Colonial History

Place Africa » Northern Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

Key-Topics army, colonialism, freedom, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00956.x


The Mahdist Revolt is also known as the Mahdist War, the Anglo-Sudan War, the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt or, by the British, as the Sudan Campaign. For the Mahdists, it was a war to free Sudan from Turkish, Egyptian, and ultimately British control. The war began in the 1880s as the British Empire was nearing its zenith. In 1882 the British intervened in Egypt to suppress the Urabi (Arabi) Revolt (1879–82). British intervention in Egypt meant that it also assumed some of the military and governing problems of Egypt, including its problems in Sudan. In the 1870s a Sudanese Sufi cleric, Muhammad Ahmad (Muhammad Ahmad ibn as-Sayyid Abd Allah, 1844–85), began to preach a message of spiritual renewal and liberation against Egyptian rule. He had been born on Dirar Island in the Nile River, which is off shore from the city of Dongola (Dunqulah). Dongola was the capital of the northern area of the Sudan. Moving to Khartoum, Muhammad Ahmad entered a course of religious training. He also studied Sufi teachings under Shaykh Muhammad ash-Sharif who was the leader of the Sammaniyya brotherhood. He soon was hailed as a very well trained Sufi. In 1871 Muhammad Ahmad moved to Aba Island on the White Nile south of Khartoum where he developed a reputation as a devoted Islamic teacher and as a spiritual mystic. He urged his hearers to devote themselves to a strict following of the Koran, from which ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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