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Mahdavia (Arabic: مهدوي ‎‎ mahdawi) or Mahdavism, is a Mahdiist Muslim sect founded by Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the late 15th century. Jaunpuri declared himself to be Imam Mahdi at the holy city of Mecca, right in front of Kaaba (between rukn and maqam) in the Hijri year 901(10th Hijri), and is revered as such by Mahdavia community and Zikri Mahdavis in Balochistan.


Mahdavis are found in most parts of India, Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, Farah in Afghanistan, Khorasan in Iran, besides some parts of central Asian countries.

Syed Muhammed Jaunpuri (AS) declared himself to be Mahdi, and as such "a caliph of Allah". He claimed to teach the true inner meaning of the Qur'an and strictly adhere to the Sunnah of Muhammad (abū al-Qāsim ibnʿAbd Allāh).

Jaunpuri's declaration was ignored by the ulema of Mecca, but after he repeated his declaration in Gujarat, he gained a group of followers and established a line of caliphs who led the movement after his death. After Jaunpuri's death in 1505, the Mahdavi movement went through a militant phase, lasting during the reign of the first five Mahdavi caliphs. The movement was persecuted under the Gujarati sultan Muzaffar II (r. 1511–1526). The second Mahdavi caliph, Bandagi Miyan Syed Khundmir led an army against Muzaffar and was killed in 1523.

After Jesus' failure to re-appear in that year, the movement lost much of its fervor and entered a "quietist" phase, which lasted throughout the 17th century. In the 18th century, the movement mostly died out in northern India.[1]

After the 1799 siege of Seringapatam, the British government invited the Mahdavis to re-settle in Mysore.[2]

Zikri Mahdavis

Zikri Mahdavis, or Zikris, are an offshoot of the Mahdavi movement found mostly in the Balochistan region of western Pakistan.[3] Zikri derives from the Arabic word dhikr, meaning "remembrance, devotion, invocation".

They too follow Prophet Mohammed, the Five Pillars of Islam and offer namaz prayers in the common mosques like the Hanafi Muslims but with the condition that the Imam must also be of Mahdavi belief. 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 visit (ziyarat) to the Koh-e-Murad ("Mountain of Desire" in Balochi), where the Imam al-Mahdi is believed to have stayed and in 1504 AD, he offered two Raka'as (cycles) special thanks giving prayers Dougana Lailat-ul-Qadr in the midnight of 27th Ramadan 909 Hijri. Following his tradition, including Zikris all Mahdavis offer Dougna Laylathu'l-Qadr prayers on 27th Ramadan midnight every year under the leadership of their murshids. Thus, Zikris are a sect who follow the Sufi Order, partially following the medieval saint Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri of the capital city of the Sharqi dynasty. This city was also known as The Shiraz of the East, due to the many Islamic scholars residing in the city.

The cultural and commercial festivals of the Zikris in Balochistan are similar to those of other Balochs, but their rituals have adapted a few distinctive practices which 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 in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

The number of Zikris is not known with any confidence. Gall (1998) stated that they were "estimated to number over 750,000 people",[3] while the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2004 stated that there were "approximately 200,000".[4] The Zikri form a local majority in Pakistan's Gwadar District,[4] and there are sizable communities in Karachi, the Pakistani part of Makran, Lasbela District, and Quetta, and in Pakistan's Sindh province. Their concentration in urban Karachi is due to many Zikris having relocated to the city, especially the neighborhood of Lyari Town.[citation needed]

With the general rise of Islamic extremism and jihadism in the region since the 1980s, Zikris have been discriminated against, targeted, and killed by Sunni militants in Pakistan.[5][6][7][8][9] As a result, the Zikri community has been shrinking and becoming less visible, with many converting to the Sunni Hanafi, and some to the Ismaili Nizari, sect of Islam.[citation needed] 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. Recently,[year needed] police protection has been provided to some Zikri pilgrims. Many Zikris have converted to Sunni and attend Mosque and fast during Ramadan.

The persecution of Zikris by Sunni militants as of 2014 has been part of the larger backlash against religious minorities in Pakistani Balochistan, targeting Hindus, Hazaras, Shias, and Zikris, resulting in the migration of over 300,000 Shias, Zikris, and Hindus from Pakistani Balochistan. The persecutions were due both to banned militant organizations such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Pakistani Taliban.[6][7][8][9]

Mahdavia community in South India

Anjuman E Mahdavia is a Mahdavia community center in Hyderabad Telangana, India, established in 1902.[10] L. K. A. Iyer in 1930 reports the existence of a community of "Mahdavia Musalmans" in Mysore Donabaghatta, Chennapatna. There is village named by Donabaghattta in Karnataka.[11]

See also

Other similar Mahdis


  1. Timothy R. Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, pp 38–41.
  2. L. K. A. Iyer, The Mysore: Tribes and Castes, Vol IV (1930), p. 383: "the benign British government issued a proclamation assuring peace and inviting all the Mahdavis to the territory of Mysore to resettle there, and they then settled in different places after their exile."
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Zikris (pronounced 'Zigris' in Baluchi) are estimated to number over 750,000 people. They live mostly in Makran and Las Bela in southern Pakistan, and are followers of a 15th-century mahdi, an Islamic messiah, called Nur Pak ('Pure Light'). Zikri practices and rituals differ from those of orthodox Islam... " Gall, Timothy L. (ed). Worldmark Encyclopedia of Culture & Daily Life: Vol. 3 - Asia & Oceania. Cleveland, OH: Eastword Publications Development (1998); pg. 85 cited after
  4. 4.0 4.1 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (2004), p. 656.
  5. "The Zikri question has become one of the leading issues during last few years which mobilized enormous resistance by the religious groups, particularly the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), in Balochistan" Mansoor Akbar Kundi, Balochistan, a socio-cultural and political analysis, Qasim Printers, 1993, p. 83.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan worried over mass migration of Hindus from Balochistan". dna. Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Meanwhile, in Balochistan". Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Pro-Taliban takfiris hail ISIS: Zikri-Balochs, Hindus threatened to death". The Shia Post. Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Gunmen target minority sect in Pakistan". Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Hyderabad: The State government has declared April 19 as optional holiday on the occasion of 'Hazrat Syed Mohd. Juvanpuri Mahdi Ma'ud (AS)' instead of April 20". Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. The Mysore. Retrieved 3 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Other sources

  • Ziaullah Yadullahi (trans.), Maulud Sharif, Jamiat-e-Mahdavia, Bangalore (2007).
  • Azhar Munīr, I. A. Rehman, Zikris in the light of history & their religious beliefs, Izharsons, 1998.

External links