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Protocol, Ceremony, And Symbols Of Authority

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the functional relationship that power and ceremony share by analyzing the use of the various symbols and ceremonies that the leaders of the Mahdiyya employed to articulate their political and religious authority. It also explores these symbols and ceremonies, which although Islamic in origin, were transformed by the Mahdiyya's leaders, Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdī and Khalīfa Abdallāhi, into Sudanese Mahdist iconographies of legitimacy. The chapter discusses the ways in which, even though the Mahdī claimed to abandon all religious innovations-especially those borrowed from Sufism-he utilized those very Sufi symbols, ceremonies, and rituals, and in doing so, made the Mahdiyya movement uniquely Sudanese. By tracing the specific symbols, ceremonies, and rituals employed by the Mahdī and placing them squarely within the Prophetic and Sudanese Sufi tradition, the author illustrates how the use of these symbols resonated within the religious consciousness of the populace.

Keywords: Islam; Mahdiyya; religious authority; Sufism



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