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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Mahdi's legal methodology as a mechanism for adapting the sharÓ'a in the Sudan to political and social purposes
Author:Layish, AharonISNI
Year:2000
Periodical:Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Mťditerranťe
Issue:91-94
Pages:221-237
Language:English
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:Mahdis
Islamic law
Mahdiyya
Abstract:Mu.hammad A.hmad b. 'Abd All‚h (best known as Mu.hammad al-Mahdi) headed a religious movement for the revival and reform of Islam (Mahdiyya) in late 19th-century Sudan. The success of the Mahdi's endeavour to consolidate a radical theocracy in a society well-entrenched in tribal customary law was dependent on the transformation of orthodox sharÓ'a to meet custom half-way and to give a charismatic leader enough room to manoeuvre to solve daily political and social problems arising within a theocracy. For this purpose, the Mahdi created a unique legal methodology that provided him with unlimited authority to enact legal rules without any institutional restriction. He abolished all schools of law and acknowledged three sources of law: the Prophetic 'sunna', the Koran, and inspiration transmitted to him by the prophet M.uhammad. The application of his legal methodology enabled the Mahdi to introduce innovations, some of which were far-reaching deviations from orthodox sharÓ'a. This essay, which is based on a sample of the more than 1000 legal documents issued by the Mahdi from the time of his manifestation in 1881 until his death in 1885, analyses some of his innovations, particularly those relating to the status of women (marriage, divorce, inheritance) and to public order and morality (criminal law, control of public morality). The essay argues that these innovations were not only inspired by political and social goals, but were also guided by personal needs of the Mahdi that could not be fulfilled within orthodox sharÓ'a. Notes, ref., sum. in English and French.
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