Islamic Studies Ibadiyya
Martin Custers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0112


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, while in Algeria several cultural organizations in Mīzāb also publish Ibāḍī works and studies on Ibāḍī subjects, although these are mainly of a local nature (see, for example, the Tourath website). However, it is not easy to acquire these publications in the West; one almost has to travel to Oman and Mīzāb to access them. Recently, since 2009, the Omani Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, in cooperation with universities, stimulates and supports a yearly international conference on Ibāḍism. The proceedings are being published by Georg Olms Verlag in Hildesheim, Germany, in the series Studies on Ibadism and Oman. For an impression of the variety of subjects treated in these proceedings, see the reviews of the first six volumes in Bibliotheca Orientalis (71.3–4 [May–August 2014]–73.5–6 [September–December 2016]). On the website of this ministry, several works on Ibāḍism can be downloaded. Also, the Tawalt website offers interesting publications for free. On the Thaoman website, books on Ibāḍism as well as a number of Ibāḍī manuscripts can be read.

General Overviews

To start studying al-Ibāḍiyya, it is perhaps advisable to begin with Rubinacci 1969, then go to the extensive article Lewicki 1971a, and finally study the article “al-Ibāḍiyya” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Lewicki 1971b). Also al-Nāmī 2001 is an excellent study on Ibāḍī history and doctrine. Hoffman 2010 touches on some main characteristics of Ibāḍism. After this, read Hoffman 2015. Pleasant to read is Prevost 2010.

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. Ibāḍī Islam: An Introduction. 2010.

    A convenient, very short overview of Ibāḍism touching on doctrine and Ibāḍism in modern times in Oman and Zanzibar.

  • Hoffman, Valerie. “Ibāḍism: History, Doctrines, and Recent Scholarship.ˮ Religion Compass 9.9 (2015): 297–307.

    A very useful historical survey of Ibāḍism, its doctrines, and an explanation of the questions treated by researchers on Ibāḍism. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Lewicki, Tadeusz. “The Ibāḍites in Arabia and Africa.” Cahiers d’Histoire Mondiale/Journal of World History/Cuadernos de Historia Mundial 13.1 (1971a): 51–130.

    After a short description of some sources, follows an elaborate survey of the Ibāḍī community at Basra in the 7th to 9th centuries and the origins of the Ibāḍī states in Arabia and Africa (pp. 51–80). Then the Ibāḍīs in North Africa (pp. 81–112) and their (commercial) relations with West Sudan (pp. 112–130) to the 14th century are treated (pp. 81–130). On page 81 there is a map of the Ibādī realm in North Africa in the Middle Ages.

  • Lewicki, T. “Al-Ibāḍiyya.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. 3. Edited by B. Lewis, V. L. Ménage, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht, 648–660. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1971b.

    On the origins of al-Ibāḍiyya, groups outside al-Baṣra with their history, the Ibāḍī doctrine, and the different branches of al-Ibāḍiyya in history; with an extensive bibliography.

  • al-Nāmī, ʿAmr Khalīfa. Dirāsāt ʿan il-Ibāḍiyya. Translated by Mīkhā’īl Khūrī, Murājaʿa wa-Taqdīm, Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ Nāṣir, and Muṣṭafà Ṣāliḥ Bājū. Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001.

    An Arabic translation of the author’s doctoral dissertation (Cambridge, 1971), without the appendices. An excellent introduction to al-Ibāḍiyya and its doctrine with much attention to the sources and to literature on the sect. English edition: Amr Khalifa Ennami, Studies in Ibadhism, al-Ibadhiyah. A version of this book is available online.

  • Prevost, Virginie. Les Ibadites: De Djerba à Oman, la troisième voie de l’Islam. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2010.

    This little book cannot be lacking here. Pleasant to read, covering most aspects of Ibāḍism, also architecture. With an anthology of characteristic texts from Ibāḍī authors through the centuries. Review in Revue Européenne des Sciences Sociales/European Journal of Social Sciences 50.1 (2012): 281–283.

  • Rubinacci, Roberto. “The Ibāḍīs.” In Religion in the Middle East. Vol. 2. Edited by A. J. Arberry, 302–317. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

    A rather quick general survey of al-Ibāḍiyya in the past and in the 20th century. Rubinacci also treats the political and religious doctrine, and at the end he gives somewhat more attention to the sociopolitical organization of the Ibāḍīs in Mīzāb (Algeria).

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