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The Ibāḍī “stages of religion” re-examined: Tracing the history of the Masālik al-Dīn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2010

Adam Gaiser*
Affiliation:
Florida State University

Abstract

With few exceptions, scholarly presentations of the Ibāḍī “stages of religion” (masālik al-dīn) and their corresponding Imāms (i.e. imām al-ẓuhūr, imām al-difāʿ, imām al-shirā', and imām al-kitmān) propose a simplified overview of the institution that is based on post-Ibāḍī renaissance thought on the Imāmate. This paper investigates the pre-renaissance usages of the masālik al-dīn by comparing sixth/twelfth-century Arabian and North African Ibāḍī texts on the subject. It demonstrates that Eastern and Western Ibāḍīs manipulated the concepts central to the later masālik al-dīn ideal to reflect the particular needs of each respective community. While the articulations of the masālik al-dīn differed according to region, they simultaneously utilized a similar vocabulary. This convergence implies an earlier and inherited conceptual system (most likely from the earliest Basran Ibāḍī umma) that was adapted in the medieval period to fulfil the unique needs of each community.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 2010

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References

1 Recent studies of the Imāmate by Ibāḍī authors include: Bakīr b. Balḥāj Waʿalī, , al-Imāma ʿand al-ibāḍiyya bayn al-naẓariyya wa al-taṭbīq muqārina maʿ ahl al-sunna wa al-jamāʿa (Ghardāya: Jamaʿiyyat al-Turāth, 2001)Google Scholar; Mālik b. Ṣulṭān al-Ḥārithī, , Naẓariyyat al-imāma ʿand al-ibāḍiyya (Muscat: Matbaʿat Musqat, 1991)Google Scholar; Ennami, ʿAmr K., Studies in Ibadism (al-Ibadiyya) (Libya: Publications of the University of Libya Faculty of Arts, 1972)Google Scholar. In addition, several works deal with the history of the Ibāḍī Imāms, and therefore indirectly examine the Imāmate, including: Ṣālih Bājīyya, , al-Ibādiyya bi al-jarīd fī al-ʿusūr al-islāmiyya al-uwla (Tunis: Dār Bū Salāma lil-Ṭibāʿa wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzīʿa, 1976)Google Scholar; Nāyif ʿId Jābir al-Suhayl, , al-Ibāḍiyya fī al-khalīj al-ʿarabī (Muscat: Maktabat al-Istiqāma, 1998)Google Scholar; Sulaymān b. Khalaf b. Muḥammad al-Kharūṣī, , Malāmiḥ min al-tārīkh al-ʿumānī (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 2006)Google Scholar; Nūr al-Dīn ʿAbdullāh b. Ḥamīd al-Sālimī, , Tuḥfat al-aʿyān bi-sīrat ahl ʿumān (Muscat: Maktabat al-Istiqāma, 1997)Google Scholar; Isam al-Rawas, , Oman in Early Islamic History (Reading: Ithaca Press, 2000)Google Scholar. Non-Ibāḍī authored works that deal solely with the Imāmate or containing significant discussions thereof include: Wilkinson, John C., The Imamate Tradition of Oman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987)Google Scholar; “The Ibāḍi Imāma”, BSOAS 39/3, 1976, 535–51; Savage, Elizabeth, A Gateway to Hell, A Gateway to Paradise: The North African Response to the Arab Conquest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997)Google Scholar; Khleifāt, ʿAwad, Nash'āt al-ḥaraka al-ibāḍiyya (Amman: Al-Jāmaʿa al-Urduniyya, 1978)Google Scholar; Ghubash, Hussein, Oman – The Islamic Democratic Tradition (New York: Routledge, 2006)Google Scholar.

2 Al-Rawas, Oman, 97.

3 Waʿalī, al-Imāma, 2: 251–69; Ennami, Studies in Ibadism, 229–38; Ahmed Hamoud Muammar, Ibadhism: A Moderate Sect of Islam (Muscat: Ministry of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, n.d.), 17–19.

4 Wilkinson, J. C., “Bio-bibliographical background to the crisis period in the Ibāḍī Imāmate of Oman”, in Serjeant, R. B. and Bidwell, R. L. (eds), Arabian Studies III (London: C. Hurst & Co., 1976), 160Google Scholar; Wilkinson, The Imamate Tradition of Oman, 152.

5 Regional variations of Ibāḍism remain among contemporary Ibāḍīs, but have been subordinated by the co-operation afforded the ʿulama by modern print and travel. For a discussion of Ibāḍī regionalism, see Bierschenk, Thomas, “Religion and political structure: remarks on Ibadism in Oman and the Mzab (Algeria)”, Studia Islamica 68, 1988Google Scholar.

6 Al-Rawas, Oman, 97–8.

7 Ghubash, Oman – The Islamic Democratic Tradition, 33–6.

8 Wilkinson, The Imamate Tradition of Oman, 153.

9 Savage, A Gateway to Hell, A Gateway to Paradise, 26.

10 Ibid., 21–2.

11 See T. Lewicki, “al-Ibāḍiyya”, in The Encyclopedia of Islam, CD-ROM Edition, version 1.1. Leiden: Brill.

12 The earliest North African Ibāḍī text – Kitāb al-ā'imma al-rustumiyīn – comes from a non-Ibāḍī named Ibn Ṣaghīr, who lived as a merchant in Tāhart, the capital of the Rustumid Dynasty, during the Imāmates of Abū al-Yaqẓān Muḥammad b. Aflāḥ (r. 250–254/864–868) and Abū Ḥātim Yūsuf b. Muḥammad (r. 254–281/868–894). Roughly contemporary to Ibn Ṣaghīr was the Ibāḍī historian Ibn Sallām, who lived and wrote during the end of the Rustumids, and whose text (Kitāb ibn Sallām) was recently recovered. Later historical and biographical sources include Abū Zakariyya Yaḥyā b. Abī Bakr al-Warjlānī's (d. 472/1078–79) Kitāb al-sīra wa akhbār al-ʿā'imma (The Book of Biographies and Histories of the Imāms); Abū al-Rabīʿ Sulaymān Ibn ʿAbd al-Sallām al-Wisyānī's (d. late sixth/twelfth century) Kitāb al-siyar (Book of Biographies); Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Saʿīd al-Darjīnī's (seventh/thirteenth century) Kitāb ṭabaqāt al-mashāyikh bi'l-maghrib (Book of the Generations of Scholars in the East), Abū al-Faḍl Abū al-Qāsim b. Ibrāhīm al-Barrādī's (d. before 854/1450) Kitāb al-jawāhir al-munṭaqāt (Book of Selected Matters) and Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Abī ʿUthmān Saʿīd al-Shammākhī's (d. 928/1521) Kitāb al-siyar (Book of Biographies).

13 Kāshif, Sayyida Ismāʿīl, al-Siyar wa al-jawābāt li-ʿulamā' wa ā'immat ʿumān (Muscat: Wizarat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 1987), 2: 320–24Google Scholar. There seems to be no connection between the Abū ʿUbayda of the sīra and the Abū ʿUbayda Nāfiʿ b. Naṣr al-Maghribī quoted in al-Kindī's Muṣannaf and discussed below. However, their texts' mutual preservation in Oman remains intriguing.

14 Kāshif, 2: 323; for a discussion of the requirement for forty soldiers in later North African texts, see Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Saʿīd al-Shammākhī, and Abū Sulaymān Dawūd b. Ibrāhīm al-Talāti, , Sharḥ ʿaqīdat al-tawḥīd (Musqat: Sulṭanat ʿUmān, 1988), 73Google Scholar.

15 See Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Sa‘īd al-Darjīnī (d. seventh/thirteenth century), Kitāb Ṭabaqāt al-mashāyikh bī al-maghrib, edited by Ibrahīm Tallay (Alger-Constantine, n.d.) 2, 364.

16 Abū Zakariyya Yaḥyā Ibn Abī Khayr al-Jannāwanī, Kitāb al-wadʿ (Musqat: Maktabat al-Istiqāma, n.d.), 29.

17 al-Shammākhī, Sharḥ ʿaqīdat al-tawḥīd, 69–74.

18 Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf al-Warjlānī, , al-ʿAdl wa al-inṣāf fī maʿrifat uṣūl al-fiqh wa al-ikhtilāf (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 1983), 2: 40–41Google Scholar.

19 Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf al-Warjlānī, , al-Dalīl wa al-burhān (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 2006), 2: 75, 102, 105, 129, 209, 302Google Scholar.

20 Wilkinson claims that al-Warjlānī's al-Dalīl wa al-burhān is the source for the notion of the imām al-kitmān. I have been unable to locate any reference to the imām al-kitmān in the Dalīl, and Wilkinson does not provide a page reference. See J. C. Wilkinson, “Ibāḍī Ḥadīth: an essay on normalization”, Der Islam 62/2, 1985, 257.

21 Abū ʿAmmār ʿAbd al-Kāfī al-Ibāḍī, Arā' al-khawārij al-kalāmiyya: al-mūjaz li-Abī ʿAmmār ʿAbd al-Kāfī al-Ibāḍī, ed. ʿAmmār Ṭālibī (Algeria: al-Sharika al-Waṭaniyya, n.d.), 2: 224–6.

22 Ibid., 227–2.

23 See Crone, Patricia, “A statement by the Najdiyya Khārijites on the dispensability of the Imamate”, Studia Islamica 88, 1998, 55–76Google Scholar.

24 ʿAbd al-Kāfī, Arā' al-khawārij, 2: 233.

25 Ibid., 2: 236.

26 Ibid., 2: 236.

27 Ibid., 2: 237.

28 Ibid., 2: 238.

29 Ibid., 2: 238.

30 Wilkinson, “Ibāḍī Ḥadīth”, 235.

31 Wilkinson, “Bio-bibliographical background”, 138–9.

32 Custers, Martin, Al-Ibāḍiyya: A Bibliography: Volume 1, Ibāḍīs of the Mashriq (Maastricht: Maastricht, 2006), 237Google Scholar.

33 Custers, Al-Ibāḍiyya: A Bibliography: Volume 1: 234.

34 Nūr al-Dīn ʿAbdullāh b. Ḥamīd al-Sālimī, , Tuḥfat al-aʿyān bi-sīrat ahl ʿumān (Muscat: Maktabat al-Istiqāma, 1997), 1: 353Google Scholar.

35 Custers, Al-Ibāḍiyya: A Bibliography: Volume 1, 234–7; Wilkinson, “Bio-bibligraphical background”, 157; Abū Bakr Aḥmad b. ʿAbdullāh b. Mūsā al-Nizwānī al-Kindī, , Kitāb al-ihtidā' (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 1985)Google Scholar; al-Muṣannaf (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 1984).

36 Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm Ibn Qays, , Mukhtaṣar al-khiṣāl (Muscat: Wizārat al-Turāth al-Qawmī wa al-Thaqāfa, 1983)Google Scholar.

37 al-Kindī, al-Muṣannaf, 10: 24.

38 Ibid., 10: 51.

39 For a discussion of the muḥtasib Imām, see Wilkinson, The Imamate Tradition, 162.

40 al-Kindī, al-Muṣannaf, 10: 52.

41 See al-Kindī, al-Muṣannaf, 10: 60–62, 85; Kitāb al-ihtidā', 162.

42 al-Kindī, al-Muṣannaf, 10: 70.

43 Ibid., 10: 61.

44 Ibid.,, 10: 95, 191.

45 Ibid., 10: 83.

46 Ibid., 10: 188.

47 Ibid., 10: 83.

48 Ibid., 10: 61, 69.

49 Ibid., 10: 70.

50 Ibn Qays, 193.

51 Bierschenk, Thomas, “Religion and political structure: remarks on Ibadism in Oman and the Mzab (Algeria)”, in Studia Islamica 68, 1988, 125Google Scholar.

52 Many, though not all, of these texts can be found in Kāshif's two-volume collection.

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