The following account of the Mahdi was drawn up by the late Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, who was killed at Merawi on his way down the Nile from General Gordon at Khartoum :
Mahomet Achmet, the Mahdi, is a Dongolawdi, or native of the province of Dongoli. His grandfather was called Fahil, and lived on the Island of Naft Arti (Arti-Dongolaws for “Island”). This island lies east of and opposite to Ordi, the native nami for the capital of Dongola. His father was Abdullahi, by trades carpenter. In 1852 this man left and went to Shindi, a town on the Nile smith of Berber. At that time his family consisted of three sons and one daughter, called respectively Mahomed, Hamid, Mahomet Achmet (the Mahdi), and Nur elSham (Light of Syria ) At Shindi another son was born called Abdullah. As a boy Mahomet Achmet was apprenticed to Sherif-ed-deen, his uncle, a boat (?), residing at Shakabeh, an island opposite Senaar. Having one day received a beating from his uncle, he ran away to Khartoum, and e joined the frie school or “ Medressu ” of a faki (learned man, head of a sect of dervishes), who resided at Hoghali, a village east of and close to Khartoum. This school is attached to the tomof Sheikh Hoghali, the patron saint of Khartoum, and who is greatly revered by the inhabitants of that town and district. The Sheikh of this tomb or shrine, although he keeps a free school and feeds the poor, derives a very handsome revenue from the gifts of the pious. He claims to be a descendant of the original Hoghali, and through him of Mahomet.) Here he remained for some time studying religion, the tenets of his sheikh, etc., but did not make much progress in the more worldly accomplishments of reading and writing. After a time he left and went to Berber, where he joined another free school kept by a Sheikh Ghubuah at a village of that name situated nearly opposite to Mekherref (Berber). This school is also attached to a shrine greatly venerated by the natives. Here Mahomet Achmet remained six months completing his religious education. Thence he went to Aradup (Tamarind Tree) village, south of Kana. Here in 1870 he became a disciple of another faki—Sheikh Nur-el-Daim (Continuous Light). Nur-el-Daim subsequently ordained him a sheikh or faki, and he then left to take up his home in the island of Abba, near Kana, on the
White Nile. Here he began by making a subterranean excavation (khaliva=retreat) into which he made a practice of retiring to repeat for hours’ oue of the names of the Deity, and this accompanied by fasting, incense-burning, and prayers. His fame and sanctity by degrees spread far and wide, and Mahomet Achmet became wealthy, collected disciples, and married several wive?, all of whom he was careful to select from among the daughters -of the most influential Baggara Sheiks (Baggara tribes owning cattle and horses) and other notables. To keep within the legalised number (four) he was in the habit of divorcing the surplus and taking them on again according to hia fancy. About the end of May, 1881, he began to write to his brother fakis (religious chiefs) and to teach that he was the Mahdi foretold by Mahomet, and that he had a divine mission to reform Islam, to establish a universal equality, a universal law, a universal religion and a community of goods (“beyt-ul-mal ”); also that all who did not believe in him should bedestroyed, be they Christian, Mahommedan, or pagan. Among others he wrote to Mahomet Saleh, a very learned and influential faki of Dongola, directing him to collect hia dervishes (followers) and friends and to jom him ac Abba. This sheikh, instead of complying with hia request, informed the Government, declaring the man must be mad. This information, along with that collected from other quarters, alarmed his Excellency Ee'out Pasha, and the result was tke expedition of August 3, 1881. In person the Mahdi is tall, slim, with a black beard and light brown complexion. Like most Dongolawis, he reads and writes with difficulty. He is local head of the Gheelan or Kadrige order of dervishes, a school originated by Abdul Kader-el-Gbulami, whose tomb is, I believe, at Bagdad. Judging from his conduct of affairs and policy, I should say he had considerable natural ability. The manner in which he has managed to merge the usually discordant tribes together denotes great tac*> He had probably been preparing the movement for some time back.
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THE MAHDI., Ashburton Guardian, Volume V, Issue 1515, 16 April 1885
THE MAHDI. Ashburton Guardian, Volume V, Issue 1515, 16 April 1885
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