Mahdavi Islam (Arabic: مهدوي اسلام) is a sect within Islam founded by Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the 15th century CE. Jaunpuri declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi (sometimes rendered "Mehdi"), the prophesied redeemer in Islam, from whom the denomination takes its name (mahdi, meaning "guided"). The Mahdavi regard Jaunpuri as the Imam Mahdi, the Caliph of Allah and the second-most important figure after the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. 
According to Islamic theology, Mahdi means "the divinely guided one" or "the directed one". Mohammed, the last of the Islamic prophets, claimed that Allah would send a (final) caliph to the Ummah (the Muslim community). It was prophesied by Mohammed that an illustrious son from his progeny – the Mahdi – would appear after him and establish the just and true religion as it was in his own time. Although the Islamic Scholars and overall Muslims of the world are still awaiting the arrival of the true "Mahdi". The Mahdavi people (which are a minority) believe that this prophecy has been fulfilled and they believe that Syed Muhammad of Jaunpur was Mahdi. They refer to him as Hazrath Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri.
Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri was born on 14th day of Jamadi-ul-Awwal in 847 H (September 9, 1443 CE) at Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, which was, at that time, a famed center of Muslim scholarship. He stands 19th in the lineage of Ali Ibn Abu-Talib and descends from Imam-e-Hussain, the grandson of Mohammed.
It is said by the Mehdavi that Syed Mohammed neither presented a new religion nor claimed himself to be a prophet, but declared himself to be "the promised Mahdi" and a caliph of Allah. He claimed to teach the true inner meaning of the Qur'an and strictly adhere to the Sunnah of Mohammed. Mehdavi people believe that Deen-e-Islam has three main aspects: Eeman, Islam and Ehsan. Their believe is that Prophet Muhammad did not explain the third part i.e the commandments of Ehsan and that this part was conveyed by "the Mahdi". Muhammad of Jaunpur proclaimed himself to be the promised Mehdi on three separate occasions: first at Mecca in 901 AH; then at Ahmedabad in 903 AH; and then at Badli in 905 AH.
Zikri Mahdavis or "Zikris" are an offshoot of the Mahdavi movement that found mostly in the Balochistan regions of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. "Zikri" derives from the Arabic word dhikr meaning "remembrance", "devotion", "invocation". The Zikri sect developed within Sunni Hanafi during the 18th century Mahdi movement as a reaction to British colonialism] and consequent decline of Muslim rule, in areas that now constitute, Pakistan. They differ in their Five Pillars of Islam and do not offer "namaz" prayers in the common mosques like the Hanafi Muslims. The content of their prayer, which they call Zikr-e-Elahi, refers to the worship of God.[clarification needed] In addition to the Hajj, Zikris also undertake a pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the Koh-e-Murad ("Mountain of Desire" in Balochi) where the Imam al-Mahdi is believed to have stayed. This is celebrated on the 27th night of Ramadan. Thus, Zikris are a sect who follow the Sufi Order, introduced by a medieval saint named, Syed Muhammad of the capital city of Sharqi dynasty, this city was also known as The Shiraz of the East, due to many Islamic scholars residing in the city.
The cultural and commercial festivals of the Zikris in Balochistan, are similar as those of the other Balochs, but the rituals have adapted a few distinct practices to distinguish the followers of this Order, from other Muslims. Thus, Khanqahs serve the purpose of mosques. However, they have no pulpits; instead, there are stones and mats on which to observe the Dhikr. Towards the end of Ramadan the annual assemblage of Zikris, called the Zikir-e Elahi takes place on Koh-e Murad, Balochistan province of Pakistan, commemorates the occasion. Many Zikris have reverted to Sunni and attend Mosque and fast during Ramadan. There are roughly 750,000 Zikris worldwide.
Most Zikris live in Balochistan. There are also large groups of Zikris in the Pakistani city of Karachi and a few numbered in the Pakistani province of Sindh and in Sistan and Baluchestan Province of Iran. Many of the other smaller groups live in Karachi and Makran, although the Zikris are predominantly in south-western, where they are the largest sect in the Gwadar District. There are also large groups of Zikris near their spiritual center, Koh-e-Murad. However, they are becoming less visible, since many are converting to Sunni Hanafi fiqh and some have also converted to Ismaili Nizari fiqh of Islam.
The exact number of Zikris is not known since they identify as Muslims. It is estimated that there are 500,000 Zikri Muslims living in Pakistan. In addition, there are Zikri communities in Karachi, Lasbela District and Quetta. The majority of Zikris have migrated from their native villages and now are settled in Karachi, especially the neighbourhood of Lyari Town, for economic reasons.
Some Zikris have been discriminated, targeted and killed by the militants and other Sunni extremists. Non-governmental organizations including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) are working with local activists to create a greater awareness of the Zikri predicament, and they aim to forestall backlash against this scattered and impoverished community. Recently, police protection has been provided to some Zikri pilgrims. Many Zikris have reverted to Sunni and attend Mosque and fast during Ramadan.
Sunni Extremism & Religious Persecution of Zikris
According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and other independent international and national media sources, due to banned militant organizations likes of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Pakistani Taliban and the efforts of the Pakistan governmental agencies to counter the Baloch nationalist there has been the surge in the religious extremism in Balochistan targeting Hindus, Hazaras, Shias and Zikris, resulting in migration of over 300,000 Shias, Zikris, and Hindus from Balochistan.
- Timothy R. Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, pp 38–41
- L. K. A. Iyer, The Mysore: Tribes and Castes, Vol IV, Mittal Publications, 1988, pg 374