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The Ibadi movement, Ibadism or Ibiyya, also known as the Ibadis (Arabic: ‎, al-Ibiyyah), is a school of Islam dominant in Oman.[1] It is also found in parts of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and East Africa. The movement is said to have been founded around the year 650 CE or about 20 years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, predating both the Sunni and Shia denominations.[2] Modern historians trace back the origins of the denomination to a moderate current of the Khawarij movement;[3][4][5]:3 contemporary Ibs strongly object to being classified as Kharijites, although they recognize that their movement originated with the Kharijite secession of 657 CE.[5]:3


The school derives its name from ?Abdu l-L?h ibn Ib of the Banu Tamim.[6] Ibn Ibad was responsible for breaking off from the wider Kharijite movement roughly around the time that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the fifth Umayyad ruler, took power.[5]:11 However, the true founder was J?bir ibn Zayd of Nizwa, Oman.[5]:12[7] Initially, Ibadi theology developed in Basra, Iraq.[8] The Ibadis opposed the rule of the third caliph in Islam, Uthman ibn Affan, but unlike the more extreme Kharijites the Ibadis rejected the murder of Uthman as well as the Kharijite belief that all Muslims holding differing viewpoints were infidels.[9] The Ibadis were among the more moderate groups opposed to the fourth caliph, Ali, and wanted to return Islam to its form prior to the conflict between Ali and Muawiyah I. They called themselves Muhakkima, Muhakkima (Arabic: ) and al-Haruriyya (Arabic: ) refers to the Muslims who rejected arbitration between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mu'awiya at the Battle of Siffin in 657 CE. The name Mu?akkima derives from their slogan la hukma illa li-llah, meaning "judgment (hukm) belongs to God alone". The name al-Haruriyya refers to their withdrawal from Ali's army to the village of Harura' near Kufa. This episode marked the start of the Kharijite movement, and the term mu?akkima is often also applied by extension to later Kharijites.[10][11]

Due to their opposition to the Umayyad Caliphate, the Ibadis attempted an armed insurrection starting in the Hijaz region in the 740s. Caliph Marwan II led a 4,000 strong army and routed the Ibadis first in Mecca, then in Sana'a in Yemen, and finally surrounded them in Shibam in western Hadhramaut.[9] Problems back in their heartland of Syria forced the Umayyads to sign a peace accord with the Ibadis, and the sect was allowed to retain a community in Shibam for the next four centuries while still paying taxes to Ibadi authorities in Oman.[9] For a period after Marwan II's death, Jabir ibn Zayd maintained a friendship with Umayyad general Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who supported the Ibadis as a counterbalance to more extreme Kharijites. Ibn Zayd ordered the assassination of one of Al-Hajjaj's spies, however, and in reaction many Ibadis were imprisoned or exiled to Oman.[5]:12[dubious ]

It was during the 8th century that the Ibadis established an imamate in the inner region of Oman. The position was an elected one, as opposed to Sunni and Shi'a dynasties where rule was inherited.[2][12] These imams exerted political, spiritual and military functions.[13]

By the year 900, Ibadism had spread to Sind, Khorosan, Hadhramaut, Dhofar, Oman proper, Muscat, the Nafusa Mountains, and Qeshm; by 1200, the sect was present in Al-Andalus, Sicily, M'zab (the Algerian Sahara), and the western part of the Sahel region as well.[7] The last Ibadis of Shibam were expelled by the Sulayhid dynasty in the 12th century.[] In the 14th century, historian Ibn Khaldun made reference to vestiges of Ibadi influence in Hadhramaut, though the sect no longer exists in the region today.[14]

Relations with other communities

Despite predating all Sunni and Shia schools by several decades, the Ibadis and their beliefs remain largely a mystery to outsiders, both non-Muslims and even other Muslims.[5]:3 Ibadis have claimed, with justification, that while they read the works of both Sunnis and Shias, even the learned scholars of those two sects never read Ibadi works and often repeat myths and false information when they address the topic of Ibadism without performing proper research.[5]:4 The isolated nature of Oman granted the Ibadi denomination, secretive by nature, the perfect environment to develop in isolation from the Islamic mainstream.[6] Ibadis were cut off even from the Kharijite sect because of Ibn Iba?'s criticism of their excesses and his rejection of their more extreme beliefs.[6] The spread of Ibadism in Oman essentially represents the triumph of theology over tribal feudalism and conflict.[8]

Ibadis have been referred to as tolerant Puritans or as political quietists because of their preference to solve differences through dignity and reason rather than with confrontation,[2][10] as well as their tolerance for practising Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews sharing their communities. Muscat, Oman presently has churches, temples, and gurudwaras.[10]

Ibadism's movement from Hijaz to Iraq and then further out made Ibadi historian al-Salimi once write that Ibadism is a bird whose egg was laid in Medina, hatched in Basra and flew to Oman.[7] Alongside Hanafi, Zaydi and Ismailism, Ibadism is among the oldest extant Islamic schools of thought, dating back to the eight century.[15]


Ibadis state, with reason, that their school predates that of mainstream Islamic schools, and Ibadism is thus considered to be an early and highly orthodox interpretation of Islam.[2]

Doctrinal differences with other denominations

Ibs have several doctrinal differences with other denominations of Islam, chief among them:

  • God will not show himself to Muslims on the Day of Judgment, a belief shared with Shias. Sunnis believe that Muslims will see God on the Day of Judgment.[16]
  • The Quran was created by God at a certain point in time. This belief is shared with the Mutazila[17] and Shi'a, whereas Sunnis hold the Quran to be co-eternal with God, as exemplified by the suffering of Ahmad ibn Hanbal during the mi?nah.[18]
  • Like the Mutazila and Shias, but unlike Salafis, they interpret anthropomorphic references to God in the Qur'an symbolically rather than literally.[17]
  • Their views on predestination are like the Ashari Sunnis (i.e. occasionalism).[17]
  • It is unnecessary to have one leader for the entire Muslim world, and if no single leader is fit for the job, Muslim communities can rule themselves.[9][11] That is different from both the Sunni belief of Caliphate and the Shia belief of Imamah.[10][19][20]
  • It is not necessary for the ruler of the Muslims to be descended from the Quraysh tribe, which was the tribe of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.[10][11] That is different from Shias.[5]:7
  • They believe it is acceptable to conceal one's beliefs under certain circumstances (kitman), analogous to the Shia taqiyya.[17]

Views on Islamic history and caliphate

Ibadis agree with Sunnis, regarding Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab as rightly-guided caliphs.[5]:7[11] They regard the first half of Uthman ibn Affan's rule as righteous and the second half as corrupt and affected by both nepotism and heresy.[5]:7 They approve of the first part of Ali's caliphate and (like Sh?'a) disapprove of Aisha's rebellion and Muawiyah I's revolt. However, they regard Ali's acceptance of arbitration at the Battle of ?iff?n as rendering him unfit for leadership, and condemn him for killing the Khawarij of an-Nahr in the Battle of Nahrawan. Modern Ibadi theologians defend the early Kharijite opposition to Uthman, Ali and Muawiyah.[5]:10

Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta observed Ibadis praying Jumu'ah in Oman and said they prayed in the same manner as Zuhr prayer. He noticed that they invoked God's mercy on Abu Bakr and Umar but not Uthman and Ali.[2]

In their belief, the next legitimate caliph was Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, the leader of the Kharijites who turned against Ali for his acceptance of arbitration with Muawiyah.[5]:10 All Caliphs from Mu'?w?yah onward are considered tyrants except Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, on whom opinions differ.[] Numerous Ib leaders are recognized as true imams, including Abdullah ibn Yahya al-Kindi of South Arabia and the imams of the Rustamid dynasty in North Africa. Traditionally, conservative Omani Ibadism rejected monarchy and hereditary rule,[21] and Ibadhi leaders were elected.[12]

Despite bitter religious disputes elsewhere, the Ibadis are realists and believe that reason and political expediency must temper the ideal Islamic state.[2]

View of hadith

Ibadis accept as authentic far fewer hadith than do Sunnis.[] Several Ibadi founding figures were noted for their hadith research, and Jabir ibn Zayd is accepted as a reliable narrator even by Sunni scholars as well as by Ibadis.[] After the death of Ibn Ibad, Ibn Zayd led the Ibadis and withdrew to Oman, where his hadith, along with those of other early Ibadis formed the corpus of their interpretation of Islamic law.[11]

View of theology

The development of Ibadi theology happened thanks to the works of scholars and imams of the community, whose histories, lives, and personalities are part of the Islamic history.[22] Ib theology can be understood on the basis of their works Ibn Ib, J?bir bin Zayd, Ab? 'Ubaida, Rab?' b. ?ab?b and Ab? Sufy?n among others. Basra is the foundation of the Ib community.[23] Various Ib communities that were established in southern Arabia, with bases in Oman, North Africa, and East Africa mainly.[23]  

View of jurisprudence

The fiqh or jurisprudence of Ibadis is relatively simple. Absolute authority is given to the Qur'an and hadith; new innovations accepted on the basis of qiyas, or analogical reasoning, were rejected as bid'ah by the Ibadis. That differs from the majority of Sunnis[24] (except minority Zahiri and early Hanbali schools of Sunnism[25][26][27]) but agrees with Shias.[28]

Wahbi school

The Wahbi is considered to be the most mainstream of the schools of thought within Ibadism. [29] The main reason why the Wahbi strain has come to dominate within Ibadism is that most textual references that have been preserved can be attributed to Wahbi affiliated scholars.[30]


The dating of early writings such as kutub al-rudud and siras (letters) written by Ibadis has led some analysts such as Salim al-Harithi to claim Ibadism as the oldest sect within Islam. However others suggest Ibadism only took on characteristics of a sect and a full-fledged madhab during the demise of the Rustamid Imamate.[29]


The term Wahbi is chiefly derived as an eponymous intimation to the teachings of Abdullah bin Wahb al-Rasibi. Although the term Wahbi was initially considered superfluous as Ibadism was largely homogenous, its usage increased upon the advent of the Nukkari secession in order to differentiate the Wahbis from the off-shoot Ibadis. The most common epithet Wahbi Ibadi clerics enjoined their adherents to apply to themselves is the term ahl al istiqama meaning those on the straight path. They rejected the usage of ahl al -sunnah as early usage assigned the term sunnah as the practise of Muawiyah cursing Ali ibn Abi Talib from the pulpits, although during the Ummayad era, this meaning changed.[29]


Ibadi people living in the M'zab valley in Algeria

Ibadis make up a majority (roughly 75%) of the population in Oman.[31] There are roughly 2.72 million Ibadis worldwide, of which 250,000 live outside Oman.[32] As a result, Oman is the only country in the Muslim world with an Ibadi-majority population.[31]

Historically, the early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi,[33] and refugees from its capital, Tiaret, founded the North African Ibadi communities, which still exist in M'zab.[34] The Mozabites, a Berber ethnic group in M'zab, are Ibadis.[35][36][37] Ibadism also exists elsewhere in Africa, particularly in Zanzibar in Tanzania, the Nafusa Mountains in Libya, Djerba Island in Tunisia, and among the Dishiishe clan of Somalis.[38][39]

The mainstream branch of Ibadism is Wahbi, although others include notable modern ones include Nukkar[40] and Azzabas.[41]

Notable Ibadis


  • Sulaiman al-Barouni, wali of Tripolitania.
  • Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili, current Grand Mufti of Oman.
  • Qaboos bin Said al Said, former Sultan of Oman and its dependencies.
  • Jamshid bin Abdullah of Zanzibar (Arabic? ; born 16 September 1929), is a Zanzibari royal who was the last reigning Sultan of Zanzibar before being deposed in the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution.
  • Nouri Abusahmain, president of the former General National Congress and former Libyan head of state.
  • Moufdi Zakaria, poet, writer and nationalist militant, author of Kassaman the Algerian national anthem
  • Ghalib Alhinai, Ghalib bin Ali bin Hilal Alhinai (c. 1912 - 29 November 2009) was the last elected Imam (ruler) of the Imamate of Oman.
  • 'Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, ?Abd All?h (or ?Abdull?h) ibn Wahb al-R?sib? (died 17 July 658 AD) was an early leader of the Kh?rijites.
  • Abd-Allah ibn Ibadh, 'Abdull?h ibn 'Ib?dh al-Tamimi (Arabic ? , d. 708) was a Tabi'i, a jurist and one of the best students of Ibn Abbas, who narrated hadiths from Aisha and a large number of the Sahaba who witnessed the Battle of Badr.
  • J?bir ibn Zayd, Abu al-Sha'tha J?bir ibn Zayd al-Zahrani al-Azdi was a Muslim theologian and one of the founding figures of the Ibadis, the third major denomination of Islam. He was from the Tabi'un, or second generation of Islam, and took leadership of the denomination after the death of Abd-Allah ibn Ibadh.
  • Abu Yazid, Abu Yazid Makhlad ibn Kaydad al-Nukkari (Arabic: ? ? ; c. 883 - 19 August 947), known as the Man on the Donkey (Arabic ?, romanized?hib al-Him?r), was an Ibadi Berber of the Banu Ifran tribe who led a rebellion against the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia and eastern Algeria) starting in 944. Abu Yazid conquered Kairouan for a time, but was eventually driven back and defeated by the Fatimid Caliph al-Mansur Billah.
  • Hunaina al-Mughairy, (born October 13, 1948) has been the ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States since the year 2005. During the time she spent in New York University she earned a BA and a master's degree in economics.
  • Haitham bin Tariq, Haitham bin Tariq (Arabic , transliteration: Haitham bin riq; born 13 October 1954) is the Sultan of Oman. He succeeded his cousin Qaboos bin Said on 11 January 2020. He previously served as Minister of Heritage and Culture in the Sultanate of Oman.


See also


  1. ^ Vallely, Paul (19 February 2014). "Schism between Sunni and Shia has been poisoning Islam for 1,400 years - and it's getting worse". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 201. Jubilee edition. Kensington: Stacey International, 1995. ISBN 0905743636
  3. ^ John L. Esposito, ed. (2014). "Ibadis". The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Lewicki, T. (1971). "al-Ibiyya". In Lewis, B.; Ménage, V. L.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht, J. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume III: H-Iram. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 648-660. OCLC 495469525.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hoffman, Valerie Jon (2012). The Essentials of Ibadi Islam. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815650843.
  6. ^ a b c Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States in a Tribal Society: Oman Under Sa?id Bin Taymur, 1932-1970, pg. 5. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2006. ISBN 9781845190804
  7. ^ a b c Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 199.
  8. ^ a b Joseph A. Kechichian, Oman and the World: The Emergence of an Independent Foreign Policy, pg. 24. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 1995. ISBN 9780833023322
  9. ^ a b c d Daniel McLaughlin, Yemen and: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 203. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2007. ISBN 9781841622125
  10. ^ a b c d e Diana Darke, Oman: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 27. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2010. ISBN 9781841623320
  11. ^ a b c d e Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 200.
  12. ^ a b J. R. C. Carter, Tribes in Oman, pg. 103. London: Peninsular Publishers, 1982. ISBN 0907151027
  13. ^ A Country Study: Oman, chapter 6 Oman - Government and Politics, section: Historical Patterns of Governance. US Library of Congress, 1993. Retrieved 2006-10-28
  14. ^ Daniel McLaughlin, Yemen, pg. 204.
  15. ^ Bierschenk, Thomas. "Religion and political structure: remarks on Ibadism in Oman and the Mzab (Algeria)." Studia Islamica 68 (1988): 107-127.
  16. ^ Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari (August 23, 2005). "Seeing God in dreams, waking, and the afterlife". Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  17. ^ a b c d Juan Eduardo Campo (1 Jan 2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. p. 323. ISBN 9781438126968.
  18. ^ Hinds, M. (1993). "Mi?na". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P.; Pellat, Ch. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VII: Mif-Naz. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 2-6. ISBN 90-04-09419-9.
  19. ^ Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States, p. 22.
  20. ^ Joseph A. Kechichian, Oman and the World, p. 25.
  21. ^ Hasan M. Al-Naboodah, "Banu Nabhan in the Omani Sources." Taken from New Arabian Studies, vol. 4, pg. 186. Eds. J. R. Smart, G. Rex Smith and B. R. Pridham. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997. ISBN 9780859895521
  22. ^ Madelung, Wilferd (2014). "Early Ib Theology". In Schmidtke, Sabine (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. 1. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 242-252. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199696703.013.004.
  23. ^ a b Ziaka, Angeliki (2014). "Introduction". In Ziaka, Angeliki (ed.). On Ibadism. Germany: Georg Olms Verlag AG. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-487-14882-3.
  24. ^ Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States, pg. 21.
  25. ^ Camilla Adang, This Day I have Perfected Your Religion For You: A Zahiri Conception of Religious Authority, pg. 15. Taken from Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies. Ed. Gudrun Krämer and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2006. ISBN 9789004149496
  26. ^ Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th-10th Centuries C.E., pg. 185. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.
  27. ^ Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840-1940: A Sourcebook, pg. 281. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  28. ^ Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, pg. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  29. ^ a b c Hoffman, Valerie (2012). The Essentials of Ibadi Islam. p. 19.
  30. ^ Abou El Fadl, Khaled (2006). Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law. p. 308.
  31. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  32. ^ Robert Brenton Betts (2013-07-31). The Sunni-Shi'a Divide: Islam's Internal Divisions and Their Global Consequences. pp. 14-15. ISBN 9781612345222. Retrieved 2015.
  33. ^ The Rustamid state of T?hart. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 10 April 2014.
  34. ^ "Ghardaïa, Algeria". Organization of World Heritage Sites. Retrieved .
  35. ^ "Tumzabt".
  36. ^ Ham, Anthony; Luckham, Nana; Sattin, Anthony (2007). Algeria. Lonely Planet. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-74179-099-3.
  37. ^ Cyril Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, pg. 39. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2008.
  38. ^ Hoffman, Valerie J. "The articulation of Ibadi identity in modern Oman and Zanzibar." The Muslim World 94.2 (2004): 201.
  39. ^ Makhubela, Lucas Mahlasela. Conflict resolution: the Somalia Militia State. Diss. University of Pretoria, 2016.
  40. ^ "The Aghlabids and their Neighbors: Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century ... - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. 2017-11-13. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Boussetta, Mourad. "Reducing barriers how the Jews of Djerba are using tourism to assert their place in the modern nation state of Tunisia." The Journal of North African Studies 23.1-2 (2018): 311-331.

Further reading

  • Pessah Shinar, Modern Islam in the Maghrib, Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 2004. A collection of papers (some previously unpublished) dealing with Islam in the Maghreb, practices, and beliefs.

External links

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