9 The Pen and the Sword: The Case of the Sudanese Mahdī

In: Rulers as Authors in the Islamic World
Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk
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Robert S. Kramer
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It would be misleading to categorize the Sudanese Mahdi as a Muslim scholar who contributed to the development of the Arab renaissance (nahda) and Islamic revivalism of the late 19th century, like his contemporaries Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897) and Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905). Nonetheless, this does not negate his importance as the ideologue of the Mahdist revolution that led to the overthrow of the Turco-Egyptian administration in the Sudan in 1885. The objective of this chapter is to examine his educational background and intellectual writings, which functioned as an internal mechanism that motivated his followers to overthrow the Turco-Egyptian regime and inspired them to create a territorial state with its capital in Omdurman. The chapter also discusses the intellectual legacy of the Mahdist revolution and state, and highlights its contribution to the shaping and reshaping of political discourse in the Sudan during the colonial and post-colonial periods.

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