Mahmoud Mohammed Taha

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Mahmoud Mohammed Taha
محمود محمد طه
Leader of the Republican Brotherhood
In office
26 October 1945 – 18 January 1985
Preceded by Party established
Personal details
Born 1909
Ruffaa, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Died 18 January 1985 (aged 76)
Khartoum, Democratic Republic of Sudan
Political party Republican Brotherhood
Occupation Politician, Religious thinker, Civil Engineer
Religion Sufi Islam

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, (1909 – 18 January 1985; Arabic: محمود محمد طه) also known as Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He was executed for apostasy at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Taha was born in Ruffaa, a town on the eastern bank of the Blue Nile, 150 km south of Khartoum. He was educated as a civil engineer in a British-run university in the years before Sudan's independence. After working briefly for Sudan Railways he started his own engineering business.[2] In 1945, he founded an anti-monarchical political group, the Republican Party, and was twice imprisoned by the British authorities.[2]


He had revolutionary ideas about the second message of Islam, which is the essence of the Mecca Qur'an as opposed to Sharia laws which are the essence of Medina Qur'an. While the Medina Qur'an was appropriate at its time to be the essence of Sharia, it is now time to bring the Mecca Quoraan to legislate. Taha opposed Sharia law as applied in Sudan as non-Islamic and preached that the Sudanese constitution needed to be reformed to reconcile "the individual's need for absolute freedom with the community's need for total social justice."

He believed that Islam "in its original, uncorrupted form", which is in the Mecca Qur'an, accorded women and non-Muslims equal status. He formed a small group, known as the Republican Brothers, to advance his cause.[2]

Arrest and execution[edit]

On Jan 5, 1985 Taha was arrested for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to Sharia law in Sudan. Brought to trial on January 7 he refused to participate. The trial lasted two hours with the main evidence being confessions that the defendants were opposed to Sudan's interpretation of Islamic law.[3] The next day he was sentenced to death along with four other followers (who later recanted and were pardoned) for "heresy, opposing application of Islamic law, disturbing public security, provoking opposition against the government, and re-establishing a banned political party."[4] The government forbade his unorthodox views on Islam to be discussed in public because it would "create religious turmoil" or fitnah (sedition). A special court of appeal approved the sentence on January 15. Two days later president Nimeiry directed the execution for January 18. Despite the smallness of his group thousands of demonstrators protested his execution and police on horseback used bullwhips to drive back the crowd.[3] The body was secretly buried.[5]


  • The Second Message of Islam رسالة الإسلام الثانية
  • The Middle East Problem. "Mushkilat Al-sharq Al-Awsat" مشكلة الشرق الأوسط
  • This is my Path. "Qul Hadha Sabieli" قل هذه سبيلي
  • Mohammed's Path. "Tareeq Mohammed" طريق محمد
  • The Message of Prayer. " Risalat Al-salat" رسالة الصلاة
  • The Challenge Facing the Arabs. "Al-Tahaddi Al-ladhi Yuwagihuhu Al-Arab"التحدي الذي يواجهه العرب


  1. ^ Apostacy|International Humanist and Ethical Union
  2. ^ a b c d The Moderate Martyr: A radically peaceful vision of Islam| by George Packer| September 11, 2006
  3. ^ a b Sacred Rage, Wright, Robin, p.203, 4
  4. ^ Sacred Rage, Wright, Robin, p.203
  5. ^ Preface (not by author) to The Second Message of Islam by Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Translated by Abdullahi Ahmen An-Na`im, 1987