His Aspirations Growing
With His Years And Knowledge, He Journeyed To Khartoum As Soon As His
Religious Education Was Completed, And Became A Disciple Of The Renowned
And Holy Sheikh, Mohammed Sherif.
His devotion to his superior, to his studies and to the practice
of austerities, and a strange personal influence he was already
beginning to show, won him by degrees a few disciples of his own:
and with them he retired to the island of Abba.
Here by the waters of
the White Nile Mohammed Ahmed lived for several years. His two brothers,
who were boat-builders in the neighbourhood, supported him by their
industry. But it must have been an easy burden, for we read that he
'hollowed out for himself a cave in the mud bank, and lived in almost
entire seclusion, fasting often for days, and occasionally paying a visit
to the head of the order to assure him of his devotion and obedience.'
[I take this passage from FIRE AND SWORD IN THE SOUDAN, by Slatin. His
account is the most graphic and trustworthy of all known records of
the Mahdi. He had terrible opportunities of collecting information.
I have followed his version (chapter iv.) very closely on this subject.]
Meanwhile his sanctity increased, and the labour and charity of the
brothers were assisted by the alms of godly travellers on the river.
This virtuous and frugal existence was disturbed and terminated
by an untoward event. The renowned and holy Sheikh made a feast to
celebrate the circumcision of his sons.
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