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IBADI DYNASTY. The moderate sect of Khariji origin known as the Ibadiyah was introduced into Oman first through access to the many Omani tribes settling in Basra and by missionaries from the sect’s headquarters in Basra early in the eighth century CE (first-second century AH). Some of the early Ibadi scholars and influential leaders were of Omani origin, including Jabir ibn Zayd al-Azdi (d. 711), the real founder of the sect. He was exiled to Oman by the governor of Basra. Three of the first four Ibadi organizational leaders had strong relations with Oman. The Ibadiyah has remained an important element in the history and political structure of Oman since that time, although it has declined greatly in other areas of its former influence. Over the past twelve centuries the Ibadi community of Oman has elected sixty-one imams who ruled over greater or lesser territories in the region, depending on the sect’s political power at various times.

According to Ibadi doctrine, an imam must be elected with absolute ruling authority over the community; his authority is absolute as long as he abides by Ibadi principles and law, and he can be deposed if he has committed a great disobedience and has not repented. However, such conditions remain theoretical in general. There is a tradition of a “chief elector” which had its root deep in the development of Ibadiyah in Oman. Although there is no post in the Ibadi jurisprudence for the chief elector, the rules and acts considered correct are derived from the acts and judgments of the consecutive chief electors. Ibadi jurisprudence and literature hold in high esteem the `ulama’ (learned men) in general, and the imam is expected to obey them and to abide by their rulings. However, when the time is considered convenient for electing an imam, it is the `ulama’ who lead the tribal chiefs to prepare for such an election, and the leading figure of the `ulama’ will act as the chief elector. This task begins by getting the main Ibadi scholars in the country to communicate with each other and to reach an agreement on a person who will be proper for the post. They prepare for the election and assure that the tribal chiefs will give their support to the elected imam. They continue, led by the chief elector, to check on the imam and to ensure that he abides by the Ibadi creed and rules of conduct.

Ibadi political power in Oman began with a seizure of power by the first publicly elected imam, al-Julanda ibn Mas`ud (r. c.749-751), who was slain in battle by an `Abbasid force. The imamate was revived in 793 under Imam Muhammad ibn `Affan. In 893 the `Abbasid force reconquered Oman, after which the Ibadiyah continued to elect imams there and to exercise considerable authority. Imam Nasir ibn Murshid al-Ya`rubi (r. c. 1624-1649) established an Ibadi dynasty in the course of his struggle against Portuguese colonial dominance. This dynasty was replaced by the present ruling family, whose first ruler was Imam Ahmad ibn Said al-Busa’idi (r. 1753/54-1783).        .

Ibadi revivalism in nineteenth-century Oman was characterized by disputes centered on the election of a zuhur (public) imam, in which various rulers were accused of departing from true Ibadi principles (the only legitimate basis for deposing an imam). Thus the rise of Imam `Azzan ibn Qays (r. 1868-1871) was supported by the theologian Said ibn Khalfan al-Khalili (d. 1871), and that of Imam Rashid al-Kharusi (r. 1913-1920) by the noted historian and theologian `Abd Allah al-Salimi (d. 1914).

[See also Ibadiyah; Oman.]


Lewicki, Tadeusz. “Ibadiyya.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vol. 3 pp. 648-66o. Leiden, 1960-. Condensed version of the author’s studies on the history and doctrine of Ibadiyah and the various communities of the sect.

Mu’ammar, ‘Ali Yahya. Al-Ibadiyah ft mawkib al-tarikh. 3 vols. Cairo, 1384-1385/1964-1966. Study of the sect by a twentiethcentury Ibadi. The first volume is devoted to the Midi creed and the second and third to the notables of the sect in Libya.

Salimi, `Abd Allah ibn Humayyid al-. Jawhar al-nizam ft `ilmay aladyan wa-al-ahkam. Cairo, 1381/1961. Long poem containing important references to Ibad! jurisprudence, written by a twentiethcentury Omani scholar.

Salimi, `Abd Allah ibn Humayyid al-. Tuhfat al-adan bi-strat ahl `Uman. 2 vols. Kuwait, 1394/1974. At the time of publication, this book was considered the most comprehensive coverage of Omani history by a native scholar.

Salimi, Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah al-. Nahdat al-a’yan bi-hurryat ahl `Uman. Cairo, n.d. Local account of events in Oman in the first half of the twentieth century.

Ubaydli, Ahmad. “`Abdullah al-Salimi’s Role in the Ibadl Revival, 1913-20.” In Proceedings of the 1988 International Conference on Middle Eastern Studies, pp. 431-44o. Leeds, 1988. Attempt to study Salimi’s role as a theorist for and chief supporter of Imam alKharusi in 1913.

Wilkinson, John C. The Imamate Tradition of Oman. Cambridge, 1987. Comprehensive study of the institute of the imamate in Oman and its development over the centuries, with particular reference to twentieth-century events.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/ibadi-dynasty/

  • writerPosted On: April 5, 2014
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