Martin Custers

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:


Historically, the Ibāḍīs (Ibadhis, Abadites, Abadhites, al-Ibāḍiyya, Ibadhiyah) constitute the only surviving branch of the Khawārij, the first schism in Islam that eventually died out as a result of its extremist beliefs but with the essential difference that the Ibāḍīs have always considered those who do not agree with their doctrines members of the Islamic community. They vehemently reject the appellation “Khawārij,” although they readily admit that Ibāḍism developed from Khārijism. The Ibāḍī doctrines differ in a number of points from those of the Sunnites, but these are mainly of a theological nature and of little impact on daily life as a Muslim. Interest in al-Ibāḍiyya in the West came with the colonial involvement of Western countries in the regions Ibāḍīs lived in: the British in Oman and Zanzibar, to a lesser extent the Germans in East Africa, especially the French in Algeria and Tunisia, and the Italians in Libya. In the beginning the Ibāḍīs jealously kept their own literature to themselves, and it was only with great difficulties that French scholars in Algeria succeeded in having some of them copied. This situation began to improve somewhat beginning around the 1880s with the publishing of lithographic editions of Ibāḍī works in Algeria and especially in Cairo, with the activities of al-Maṭbaʿa al-Bārūniyya of Muḥammad b. Yūsuf al-Bārūnī, Maṭbaʿat al-Azhār al-Bārūniyya of Sulaymān al-Bārūnī, and finally with the publishing activities of Abū Isḥaq Ibrāhīm Iṭfayyish (Aṭfiyyash). In the early 21st century the situation is completely different. Since Sultan Qābūs b. Saʿīd al-Būsaʿīdī ascended the throne in Oman in 1970, the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (MNHC, recently changed to Ministry of Heritage and Culture) has intensively published Ibāḍī works (a partial list is online) as has the Maghreb, while in Algeria several cultural organizations in Mīzāb also publish Ibāḍī works and studies on Ibāḍī subjects. However, it is not easy to acquire these publications in the West; one almost has to travel to Oman and Mīzāb to access them.

Article.  7589 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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