Muhammad Ahmad (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Defeated British and Egyptian forces under General Charles George Gordon and blunted British imperialist expansion.
Muhammed Ahmad was a charismatic religious leader and founder of his own Dervish order. He gathered his followers on an island in the Nile, where he acquired a reputation for holiness and mystical powers. He became convinced that he was the Mahdi, the divinely chosen messiah foretold by Islamic tradition, the one who would come to free the people and purify the faith. Egypt had long suppressed the Sudan and conducted a series of campaigns there, which led, in 1876, to the bankruptcy of the khedive’s government. A strong nationalist, the Mahdi began a jihad (holy war) in 1881 against Egyptian overlordship. The year, 1300 in the Islamic calendar, was popularly believed to be the date that Mahdi would inaugurate a kingdom of justice. When the British took control of Egypt in 1882 in the wake of the economic collapse, the Mahdist revolt spread throughout the Upper Nile basin. Egyptian forces were swept before the Mahdists, confirming Allah’s blessing on the movement as well as providing modern captured arms.
Within a year, the Mahdi had captured El Obeid and Darfur and defeated the Anglo-Egyptian forces under General William Hicks Pasha. The Mahdists then marched on to Khartoum (1884-1885), which they took after a long but futile defense by General Charles George Gordon....
(The entire section is 318 words.)
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