Mahdi, Sadiq Al- (1936– )

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MAHDI, SADIQ AL- (1936– )

Sadiq al-Mahdi is a Sudanese political leader and intellectual, and a descendant of the nineteenth-century Islamic revolutionary known as "the Mahdi," Muhammad Ahmad. Sadiq received a traditional Muslim education as well as a modern one, graduating from Oxford University in 1957. When his father, Siddiq al-Mahdi, died in 1961, Sadiq became the head of the Mahdist-supported Umma Party. He was prime minister of Sudan from 1966 to 1967, and following the military coup by Ja˓far Numayri in 1969, Sadiq went into exile. He returned to Sudan during a national reconciliation in 1977, but was jailed for his opposition to Numayri's 1983 decrees imposing a form of Islamic law on the country. Following the overthrow of Numayri, Sadiq al-Mahdi was again prime minister (1986–1989), and his government was overthrown by Islamist military officers in 1989. He was a leader in the movements of opposition to the Islamist regime but, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Sadiq al-Mahdi engaged in efforts to reconcile government and opposition. He has written numerous books advocating effective ijtihad (independent reasoning) in understanding Islam's message in the contemporary world. He is an advocate of democracy in an Islamic context and has provided a contemporary understanding of what messianic leadership (the mission of the Mahdi) means in the modern world.


Sidahmed, Abdel Salam. Politics and Islam in ContemporarySudan. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

John O. Voll