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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 prophet Muhammad. Both the prophet and imam are considered to be masum (معصوم "infallible") and equal to each other in every aspect.[1]


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. As an honorific, Mahdavia's founder is often called 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.

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. He is recorded[2] as saying: "My religion is the Book of Allah [i.e. the Qur'an] and the following of Mohammed". He 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.[citation needed]

Most of the followers of Mahdavia live in India (Channapatna, Palacode and Hyderabad) and the United States. Another notable Mahdavia followers are the Zikri Mahdavis in Balochistan region.

Zikri Mahdavis[edit]

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 follow the Five Pillars of Islam and pray five times daily as other 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 elementally Muslim, who follow the Sufi Order, introduced by a mystic of undivided British India, named, Muhammad Jaunpuri.

The cultural and commercial festivals of the Zikris in Baluchistan, are the same as those of the other Balochs, and the rituals have assimilated a few distinct practices to distinguish the followers of this Order, from others. Thus, "Khanqahs" serve the purpose of mosques. However, they have no pulpits; instead, there are stones and mats on which to observe the Dhikr, like followers of other Sufi orders, elsewhere in the world ... Towards the end of Ramadanthe annual assemblage of Zikris, called the Zikir-e Elahi takes place on Koh-e Murad, one of the four Provinces of Pakistan, called, Baluchistan, commemorates the occasion. There are roughly 750,000 Zikris worldwide.[3]

Most Zikris live in Balochistan, Pakistan. 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.[citation needed] 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 Ismailism, led by the Aga Khan.

The exact number of Zikris is not known since they identify as Muslims. It is estimated that there are several thousands 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 for economic reasons.

Some Zikris feel that they have been discriminated, which is unfounded, since, o ground, there is no discrimination isolating them in Pakistani Balochistan, while it cannot be said thats its so in Iran and Afghanistan. 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.

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