TDISH: The “Mad Mahdi”

One hundred thirty five years ago today, in 1881, Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, a Sudanese Mahdi_1885.pngreligious leader, declared himself to be the Mahdi – a Messianic figure of Islam met to bring about the end times.  The British, who controlled the Sudan as a colony, called him the obviously derisive name of the “Mad Mahdi.”  He was to be one of the greatest bogeymen for the late nineteenth century British.  During the four years that passed between this declaration and Muhammad Ahmad’s death, he waged a fairly successful war of rebellion against British hegemony.  The Mahdi and his followers – the so-called “Dervishes” – kicked off a revolt that prompted the British to send troops to the Sudan starting the Mahdist War.  British General and war hero, Charles Gordon, was sent to deal with the rebels, but instead he and much of his army were killed when the Mahdists took over Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan.  Muhammad Ahmad died in 1885, likely of typhus, and was buried in an elaborate tomb.  His Mahdist State of Sudan would survive him for four more years, until the British eventually emerged victorious in 1889.

Featured Image: “Muhammad Ahmad.” Public Domain.
Image 1. “Mahdist Uprising – Green Hashes (1885).” By Africa_1885.jpg: F.R.G.S. John Bartholomew (1831 – 1893)derivative work: Hans Erren (talk) – Africa_1885.jpg, Public Domain.
Rees, Simon. “The ‘Mad Mahdi’ established a pure Islamic state and became the Western World’s original ‘most-wanted’ extremist.” Military History Journal. 2002 June.

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