Muhammad Ahmad Bin Sayyid Abdullah
Mahdi created a vast state, which extended from Red Sea to Central Africa. In 1881 he proclaimed to be Mahdi (the right guarded one) and after capturing Khartoum in 1885 he established a theocratic state in Sudan.
Mahdi had begun to attract followers by the year 1870. The Egyptians, whose rulers were the Ottoman, were ruling Sudan at that time. Taxpayers used to be flogged when they defaulted in payments. The presence of non-Muslim Europeans as Governors had made the political climate in Sudan very volatile.
Mahdi converted the discontent of the common Sudanese in a movement. In 1881 he convinced the public that the viceroy of Egypt was a puppet in the hands of the Europeans and assumed the title of Mahdi who according to a tradition would appear to restore Islam. In the following four years he occupied all the territories formerly occupied by the Egyptian. A force commanded by general Hicks was butchered in 1883. Major General Gordon of the British army was killed in 1885 after the capture of Khartoum.
Mahdi died young at the age of 41 by typhoid. But his caliphs, appointed by him were able to influence Sudanese politics for another 100 years.
The English and the Europeans had dubbed him as the false Prophet and had distorted his image, but by the end of the 19th century, a new image of Mahdi had emerged as the one who changed the course of African history.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin