The Ibâḍi Ethos

John C. Wilkinson

in Ibâḍism

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199588268
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595400 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Oriental Monographs

The Ibâḍi Ethos

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This chapter describes the underlying ethos in Ibâḍism of equality before God, and illustrates this with particular reference to the protection of the rights of the peasants and other producing classes. It shows the ability of Ibâḍi law to adapt to the needs of an agricultural economy in two entirely different environments — that of Oman based on an ancient pre-Islamic falaj irrigation system, and that of colonization de novo in the Mzab. As barriers between the indigenous village population and the Arab tribesmen broke down, the majûs converted and a remarkable assimilation of the villagers and tribesmen occurred that is not characteristic of neighbouring regions. Nevertheless, the concern for protecting the little man from illegal seizure in an agricultural economy now based on privately owned mulk small holdings, led to a sterilization of vast areas of former production, when land that fell into the hands of jabâbira (tyrants) reverted to Ibâḍi rule, while a tax system that failed to recognize inputs other than labour as a factor of production did not encourage reinvesting in expensive irrigation reconstruction.

Keywords: Ibâḍism; Oman; Mzab; agricultural economy; irrigation; colonization; peasants

Chapter.  7829 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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