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Title: Mahmud Muhammad Taha : his life in Sudan
Author: Thomas, Edward
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis is a biography of Mahmud Muhammad Taha, the charismatic leader of a group of Sudanese religious and civil rights activists, the Republican brothers and sisters. They vigorously publicised his call for a mystical, inclusive reinterpretation of Islam, they worked mainly in urban areas of central Sudan in the 1970s and 1980s. Taha's views were opposed by Sudanese Muslims close to the state, and they eventually brought about his execution in 1985. Since his death, Taha has been adopted as a symbol of resistance, tolerance and human rights, and his strange and compelling views about Islamic religion and law have been the subject of several studies. This thesis gives an account of the influences that impelled Taha to become a legal reformer. It studies his family, education, pastimes, work, and his experience of religion, ethnicity, and social class. Taha founded a political party, and ended up in a colonial jail, where he had a mystical experience that shaped the rest of his life. Taha's leadership of the organisation that arose out of his jail experience is narrated from oral sources, from his writings and the writings of his followers. The thesis examines Taha's ideas about law, religion and society. It argues that Taha attempted to establish an unprecedented, working distinction between ethics and law in an Islamic idiom, drawing on the insights of the mystical, or Sufi, traditions of Sudan and the Middle East. His close identification with Sudanese and international Sufism led him to view personal spiritual eminence as a central component of his mission. This thesis shows how Taha's dreams of perfection became the target of polemic against him. Taha was a legal performer as well as a legal reformer. The thesis places his ideas in the context of Sudan's competing legal systems, its jails, judges and police. Sudan's legal confusion is related to its cultural diversity, and there is an attempt to connect Taha's life to the historical experience of an African country on the edge of the Arab and Muslim world, where the interplay of religion and ethnicity has major consequences for the division of wealth and power.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available