This is a pioneering scholarly study of the colourful career of Sayyid ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Mahdī and his brainchild Neo-Mahdism. It explains his calculative strife to deal with the British onslaught on his father’s Mahdiyya, and to gradually attain the essence of its political and religious mission. The discourse contests the long held presumption of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān’s subservience to Britain, and portray’s him as the architect of national independence, and the Sudan’s most towering celebrity in the 20th century. It highlights al-Sayyid’s mastery of manipulation that perplexed, occasionally paralysed, British and Egyptian policy makers, and explores his attempts to establish an inclusive religious and political system. The book is important to scholars of Africa, the Middle East and Islamic revivalism. It may trigger revisits to similar leaders whose images could have likewise been unfairly tarnished.
Hassan Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D. (1970) in History, University of London, is Professor of History, International Islamic University Malaysia. His research interests include history of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Islamic revivalism. He has published several books and many referred articles and chapters in English and Arabic.