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Ibaziyah: An Introduction to Islamic Jurisprudential Sects

1- Main Features

For Ibāḍīyah, imitation in basic dogmas is not permitted, however in derivatives and applied fiqh it is allowed, but only in the cases that there is no any precept elicited from the Qur’an, Sunnah, consensus of Muslims, or reasonThey justify this belief by saying that imitation, in essence, means accepting others words without seeking any proof, and it is useless while having a precept proved by the Qur’an, Sunnah, consensus of Muslims, or reason.

            Contrary to most Sunni sects, Ibāḍīyah believe that the gate of ijtihād is open. They believe that a mujtahid (authorized interpreter of religious law) should be well informed of lexicon, jurisprudential principles, and the sources of reasoning (the Qur’an, Sunnah, and consensus). However, there is a discord between Ibāḍī scholars concerning the possibility of being mijtihād only in some parts of jurisprudence.

            Ibāḍī scholars maintain that it is possible to have a consensus among the people of loosening and binding. Sheikh Abū Muhammad ‘Abd Allah b. Hamīd Sālimī defines consensus as: “consensus in the custom of Uṣūlī scholars, jurists, and general Muslims means unanimous agreement of Muslim scholars on a verdict in an epoch. According to some scholars, consensus means Muslim’s agreement on a matter in an epoch. Some others have added that before the agreement, there would not be a continual dispute about the matter.” Concerning the authority of consensus, Sālimī says: “different definitions of consensus conclude that any definition accepted by a person is regarded as a proof for him. Therefore, who considers mujtahids’ agreement as consensus, their agreement is a proof for him, whether others agree or not. Whoever considers only faithful mujtahids’ agreement as consensus, but not impious or heretic ones. Only faithful mujtahids’ agreement is a proof for him, however impious scholars oppose it.” Anyway, the authority of consensus, with regard to all definitions, is presumptive. Sālimī regards consensus as a conclusive proof only in an imaginary case with many rarely happen conditions.

            Among Khawārij, Ibāḍīyah is the only sect that has a codified jurisprudence. Ibāḍī scholars believe that it is possible to have a consensus among the people of loosening and binding. Ibāḍīyah regarding many legal rulings, such as praying, fasting, hajj, and legal alms is close to the four Sunni legal schools.

            Concerning theological doctrine, Ibāḍīyah believe that nobody could be entitled as Mu’min (faithful) or Kāfir (unbeliever), because divine revelation is interrupted, and Abū Bakr and ‘Umar has gone, so there is nobody who can reveal truth, and distinguish a Mu’min from a Kāfir.

Some recent Ibāḍī scholars believe that Ibāḍīyah only in two subjects differs from other Islamic sects, refuting the acceptance of arbitration by Imam Ali (A.S.), and rejecting being Qurashī as a condition of Imam. However, about other subjects it is of the same opinion as one of the famous theological sects. Concerning Divine Attributes, vision (of God), Divine transcendence, hermeneutic interpretation, and contingency of the Qur’an, they are sympathy with Mu‘tazilah and Shi’a. About intercession, they agree with Mu‘tazilah. Regarding predestination and creating acts, they are in accord with Ashā‘irah.

2- History

In the second century, Ibāḍīyah spread through Yemen, Haḍarmawt, and Hejaz.  ‘Abd Allah b. Yaḥyā entitled as “Ṭālib al-Ḥaqq” played an active role for spreading this sect. His revolt reached its climax in the time of last Umawī Caliph, Marwān b. Muhammad.

At the time of Manṣūr ‘Abbāsī, Mu‘n b. Zā’idah entered Haḍarmawt and appointed a deputy, but people killed him under the guidance of Ibāḍīyah. Ibāḍīs formed the government in Libya and Algeria, and it lasted for more than three years in Libya (141-144 A.H.).  ‘Abd Allah b. Rustam established the Rustamid dynasty in North Africa, which lasted about 150 years (144-296 A.H.) and its center, the city of Tāhert in Algeria, was one of the most important headquarters of Ibāḍīyah School. Their governing realm was extended through the most regions of Algeria and Harrān, Awrās Mountains, half of South Tunisia, and most regions of Libya.

 At present, Ibāḍīs are living in different parts of Islamic world, but their main headquarter is Oman, that Ibāḍīyah is its official religion. Some Ibāḍī groups are living in Zanzibar (a part of Tanzania) and the Sahara Desert, especially Mīzāb in Algeria, Nafusah Mountains in Libya, and Jirbah Island in Tunisia.

About Alireza Mosaddeq

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