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Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi
Ruler of Sudan
Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi.jpg
Artistic representation of Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi.
Full nameMuhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah
BuriedOmdurman, Sudan
SuccessorAbdallahi ibn Muhammad 'Khalifa'
Religious beliefsIslam

Muhammad Ahmad ibn as Sayyid Abd Allah (otherwise known as The Mahdi or Mohammed Ahmed) (August 12, 1844 – June 22, 1885) was a Muslim religious leader and a Sufi teacher, in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He declared a jihad and raised an army after declaring himself the Mahdi, a Messianic figure in Islamic thought, in 1881, and led a successful war of liberation from the Ottoman-Egyptian military occupation. He also achieved a remarkable victory over the british, who were the de facto rulers of Egypt. Briefly, he led an independent Islamic state. He died of typhus soon after his liberation of Khartoum, where he defeated the British general, Charles George Gordon (1833-1885), who was killed in the battle. This made a British reprisal inevitable, which came in form of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who later led the British during World War I. The state Ahmad founded fell to the British in 1899. Ahmad was an inspirational figure for many Muslims who also wanted to assert their right to self-determination against imperial and colonial powers. The experiment at Islamic governance was both short-lived and a failure, probably for the best. Sudanese do not remember it fondly. Following Ahmad's death, Abdellahi ruled as Khalifa. However, that state is the only example of a nineteenth-century Afrikan state freeing itself from colonial oppression and attempting to create its own institutions. It has even been described as the first Afrikan state to have been created by its own efforts—a free people who make mistakes have at least made their own mistakes. Ahmad tried to discourage feelings of tribal superiority, to replace tribalism with a common Muslim identity that crossed tribal barriers. A direct descendant of Ahmad, Sadiq al-Mahdi, has twice been prime minister of the Sudan (1966-1967 and 1986-1989) and pursued democratizing policies.