Sudan is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 3000 BC. The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity, which is intertwined with the history of Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods. After gaining independence from Egypt, and the United Kingdom in 1956, Sudan suffered a civil war, lasting 17 years, subsequently followed by ethnic, religious, and economic conflicts between the Northern Sudanese (with Arab and Nubian roots), and the Christian and animistNilotes of Southern Sudan. Thus this led to a second civil war in 1983, and due to continuing political and military struggles, Sudan was seized in a bloodless coup d'état by colonel Omar al-Bashir in 1989, who thereafter proclaimed himself President of Sudan.
Divided by the Niles, Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis with an estimated overall population of over a million people consisting of Khartoum proper, and linked by bridges to Khartoum North called (al-Khartūm Bahrī) and Omdurman (Umm Durmān) to the west.
Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (otherwise known as The Mahdi or Muhammad Ahmed Al MahdiArabic:محمد أحمد المهدي) (August 12, 1844 – June 22, 1885) was a Sufi sheikh of the Samaniyya order in Sudan who, on June 29th, 1881, proclaimed himself as the Mahdi or messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith. His proclamation came during a period of widespread resentment among the Sudanese population of the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers, and capitalized on the messianic beliefs popular among the various Sudanese sufi sects (or tariqa/turuq) of the time. More broadly, the Mahdiyya, as Muhammad Ahmad's movement was called, was influenced by earlier Mahdist movements in West Africa, as well as Wahabism and other puritanical forms of Islamic revivalism that developed in reaction to the growing military and economic dominance of the European powers throughout the 19th century.
From his announcement of the Mahdiyya in June 1881 until the fall of Khartoum in January 1885, Muhammad Ahmad led a successful military campaign against the Turco-Egyptian government of the Sudan (known as the Turkiyya). During this period, many of the theological and political doctrines of the Mahdiyya were established and promulgated among the growing ranks of the Mahdi's supporters. After Muhammad Ahmad's unexpected death on 22 June 1885, a mere six months after the conquest of Khartoum, his chief deputy, the Khalifa Abdullah took over the administration of the nascent Mahdist state.