Companions or supporters. The term applied to people of Medina who supported Muhammad after the hijrah and was appropriated as the name for the supporters of the Sudanese Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad ibn Abd Allah (d. 1885). The movement was declared illegal following the conquest of the Mahdist state by the Anglo-Egyptian army in 1898. In the twentieth century the Mahdi's son reorganized the Ansar, and by Sudanese independence in 1956 the Ansar were the largest Muslim association and the basis for the Ummah Party. Since independence, the Ansar have represented an identification with the Mahdist tradition and leadership by the Mahdi family rather than a separate organization.
See also Ummah Party