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SENTINEL—SENUSSI

meanings now are: (a) in grammar, a thought expressed in words in complete grammatical form and composed of subject and predicate, and (b) in law, a judicial decision. In law, the term signifies either (1) a judgment of a court of criminal jurisdiction imposing a punishment such as a fine or imprisonment, or (2) a decree of certain competent courts, as ecclesiastical and admiralty courts. In sense (1) a sentence may be either definite or final, i.e. one giving finality to the case, or interlocutory, determining some point in the progress of the case (see, however, Judgment). The sentences inflicted by the courts of various countries vary according to the gravity of the offence (see Criminal Law; also Capital Punishment; and, for the “indeterminate” sentence, Recidivism). Concurrent sentences are those which run from the same date in respect of convictions on various indictments. A cumulative sentence is the sum total of consecutive sentences passed in respect of each distinct offence of which an accused person has been found guilty on several counts of an indictment. A sentence, in the case of trials before a court of assize, commences to run from the first day of the sitting of the court, but in that of courts of quarter sessions from the time the sentence is pronounced.


SENTINEL, or Sentry, a guard or watch, a soldier posted at a particular spot to challenge all corners, passing those who give a countersign, and refusing those who do not, and giving alarm in case of attack. The etymology has been the subject of much controversy. The original word seems to be Ital. sentinella, adapted as Fr. sentinelle (the modern French military term is factionnaire, and the Ger. Fachmann). For the Italian word the source has been suggested in sentire, to perceive, but there are philological objections to this, and more plausibility attaches to a connexion with sentina, the bilge-water in a ship, figuratively rabble, camp-followers. If an Italian origin, as agreed on by most authorities, be set aside, the French word suggests a more appropriate formation as the diminutive of sentier, path, Lat. semita, meaning properly the sentry’s beat. The O. Fr. senteret (a form of sentier) would account for the English form “ sentry.”


SENTINUM, an ancient town of Umbria, Italy, lying to the S. of the modern town of Sassoferrato, in the low ground. The foundations of the city walls are preserved, and a road and remains of houses have been discovered, including several mosaic pavements (T. Buccolini in Notizie degli scavi, 1890, 346) and inscriptions of the latter half of the 3rd century a.d., including three important tabulae patronatus. In the neighbourhood the battle took place in which the Romans defeated the combined forces of the Samnites and Gauls in 295 b.c. It was taken and destroyed in 41 b.c. by the troops of Octavian, but continued to exist under the Empire. It was, however, only a municipium, never (as some wrongly suppose) a colonia. Sassoferrato gave its name to Giambattista Salvi, surnamed Sassoferrato (1605–1685), a painter celebrated for his Madonnas.


SENUSSI [Sanusi] and SENUSSITES, the names respectively of a Moslem family (and especially its chief member) and of the fraternity or sect recognizing the authority of the Senussi. Considerable diversity of opinion has prevailed among writers and travellers claiming knowledge of the Senussia; it is possible, however, to distinguish the main facts in the lives of the Senussi sheiks and to indicate the range of their direct political influence. The extent of their spiritual influence, the ramifications of the fraternity and the 'aims of its chiefs cannot be gauged so accurately.

Seyyid or Sidi (i.e. Lord) Mahommed ben Ali ben Es Senussi el Khettabi el Hassani el Idrissi el Mehajiri, the founder of the order, commonly called the Sheik es Senussi, was born near Mostaganem, Algeria, and was called es Senussi after a much venerated saint whose tomb is near Tlemçen. The date of his birth is given variously as 1791, 1792, 1796 and 1803. He was a member of the Walad Sidi Abdalla tribe of Arabs and his descent is traced from Fatima, the daughter of Mahomet. As a young man he spent several years at Fez, where he studied theology. When about thirty years old he left Morocco and travelled in the Saharan regions of Algeria preaching a reform of the faith. From Algeria he went to Tunisia and Tripoli, gaining many adherents, and thence to Cairo, where he was opposed by the Ulema of El Azhar, who considered him unorthodox. Leaving Egypt Senussi went to Mecca, where he joined Mahommed b. Idris el Fassi, the head of the Khadirites, a fraternity of Moroccan origin. On the death of el Fassi Senussi became head of one of the two branches into which the Khadirites divided, and in 1835 he founded his first monastery at Abu Kobeis near Mecca. While in Arabia Senussi visited the Wahhabites, and his connexion with that body caused him to be looked upon with suspicion by the Ulema of Mecca. It was at Mecca, however, that Senussi gained his most powerful supporter, Mahommed Sherif, a prince of Wadai, who became in 1838 sultan of hisFoundation of the order. native state, the most powerful Mahommedan kingdom in the Central Sudan. Finding the opposition to him at Mecca too powerful Senussi quitted that city in 1843 and settled in the Cyrenaica, where in the mountains near Derna he built the Zawia Baida or White Monastery. There he was in close touch with all the Maghribin, gaining many followers among the Tripolitans and Moroccans. He also maintained a close correspondence with the sultan of Wadai, who greatly favoured the spread of the Senussia in his state. The sultan of Turkey viewed with some disfavour the growth of Senussi’s influence as likely to become detrimental to his own position as the Khalifa of Islam. Probably with the desire to be independent of pressure from the Turks, Senussi removed in 1855 to Jarabub (Jaghbub), a small oasis some 30 m. N.W. of Siwa. Here he died in 1859 or 1860, leaving two sons, one Mahommed Sherif (named after the sultan of Wadai), born in 1844, and the other, El Mahdi, born in 1845. To the second son was left the succession. It is related that as the younger son showed a spirit in all things superior to that of his brother the father decided to put them to the test. Before the whole zawla at Jarabub he bade both sons climb a tall palm tree and then adjured them by Allah and His Prophet to leap to the ground. The younger lad leapt at once and reached the ground unharmed; the elder boy refused to spring. To El Mahdi, “who feared not to commit himself to the will of God,” passed the birthright of Mahommed Sherif. Mahommed appears to have accepted the situation without complaint. He held the chief administrative position in the fraternity under his brother until his death in 1895.

Senussi el Mahdi, only fourteen when his father died, was at first under the guidance of his father’s friends Amran, Reefi and others. He enjoyed all his father’s reputation for holiness and wisdom, attributes consistent with all that is known of his life. Mahommed Sherif, theSenussi
el Mahdi.
sultan of Wadai, had died in 1858, but his successors the Sultan Ali (who reigned until 1874) and the Sultan Yusef (reigned from 1874 to 1898) were equally devoted to the Senussia. Under the Senussi el Mahdi the zawias of the order extended from Fez to Damascus, to Constantinople and to India. In the Hejaz members of the order were numerous. In most of these countries the Senussites occupied a position in no respect more powerful than that of numbers of other Moslem fraternities. In the eastern Sahara and in the central Sudan the position was different. From the western borders of Egypt south to Darfur, Wadai and Bornu; east to Bilma and Murzuk, and north to the coast lands of Tripoli, Senussi became the most powerful sheik, acquiring the authority of a territorial sovereign. The string of oases leading from Siwa to Wadai—Kufra, Borku, &c.—were occupied and cultivated by the Senussites, trade with Tripoli and Benghazi was encouraged, law and order were maintained among the savage Bedouin of the desert. But the eastern Sahara, though vast (covering approximately about 500,000 sq. m.), is among the most desolate and thinly populated parts of the world, and of more importance to the order was the dominating influence possessed by the sheik at the court of Wadai.

Although named El Mahdi by his father there is no evidence to show that the younger Senussi ever claimed to be the Mahdi, though so regarded by some of his followers. When, however, Mahommed Ahmed, the Dongalese, rose against the Egyptians in the eastern Sudan and proclaimed himself the Mahdi, Senussi was disquieted. He sent an emissary via Wadai to Mahommed