The Ibadi movement or Ibadiyya (Arabic: الاباضية al-Ibāḍiyyah) is a form of Islam distinct from the Shi'a and Sunni denominations. It is the dominant form of Islam in Oman. There are also Ibadis in Algeria as well as Libya.

Believed to be one of the earliest schools, it is said to have been founded less than 50 years after the death of the prophet Muhammad. The denomination developed out of the seventh-century Islamic sect known as the Khawarij or Kharijites. Nonetheless, Ibadis see themselves as quite different from the Khawarij.


The school derives its name from Abdullah ibn Ibadh at-Tamīmī. Followers of this sect, however, claim its true founder was Jabir ibn Zaid al-'Azdi from Nizwa, Oman.


Ibadi communities are generally regarded as conservative, for example Ibadiyya rejects the practice of qunoot or supplications while standing in prayer.

Sunni Muslims traditionally regard the Ibadiyya as a Kharijite group, but Ibadis reject this designation. Ibadis regard other Muslims not as kafir "unbelievers" (as most Kharijite groups did), but as kuffar an-nima "those who deny God's grace", though nowadays this attitude has relaxed.

They believe that the attitude of a true believer to others is expressed in three religious obligations:

  • walāyah: friendship and unity with the practicing true believers, and with the Ibadi Imams.
  • barā'ah: dissociation and hostility towards unbelievers and sinners, and those destined for Hell.
  • wuqūf: reservation towards those whose status is unclear.

Unlike the Kharijites, Ibadi have abandoned the practice of not associating with other Muslims.

Doctrinal differences with Sunni Islam

Ibadis also have several doctrinal differences with orthodox Sunni Islam, chief among them:

  • Muslims will not see God on the Day of Judgement. This is derived from the Qur'an where Musa (Moses) is told upon asking to see God, "You shall not see me." This is contrary to the mainstream Sunni belief that Muslims will see God with their eyes on the day of Judgment. This matches the beliefs of Shia Muslims. Imam Ali "Eyes cannot see Him, but he can be seen by the realities of faith" Nahj al-Balagha.
  • Whosoever enters the Hellfire, will live therein forever. This is contrary to the Sunni belief that those Muslims who enter the Hellfire will live therein for a fixed amount of time, to purify them of their shortcomings, after which they will enter Paradise. Sunnis also believe, however, that unbelievers will be in the Hellfire forever.
  • The Qur'an was created by God at a certain point in time. The Sunni community holds that the Qur'an is uncreated, as exemplified by the suffering of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal during the Mihna. Much of the Shi'a community also holds that the Qur'an was created, one of many theological beliefs that they share with the Mu'tazilah.

Views on Islamic history and caliphate

Ibadis agree with Sunnis in approving of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, whom they regard as the two rightly-guided Caliphs. They regard Uthman ibn Affan as having introduced bid'ah "innovations" into Islam, and approve of the revolt which overthrew him. They also approve of the first part of Ali's caliphate, and, like Shi'as, disapprove of Aisha's rebellion against him and also disapprove of Muawiya's revolt. However, they regard Ali's acceptance of arbitration at the Battle of Siffin against Muawiya's rebels as un-Islamic and as rendering him unfit for the Imamate, and they condemn Ali for killing the early Kharijites of an-Nahr in the Battle of Nahrawan.

In their belief, the fifth legitimate Caliph was Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi. All Caliphs from Muawiya onwards are regarded as tyrants except Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, on whom opinions differ. However, various later Ibadi leaders are recognized as true imams, including Abdullah ibn Yahya al-Kindi of South Arabia and the imams of the Rustamid dynasty in North Africa.


Ibadi Muslims make up a majority (roughly 55%) of the population in Oman They are also found in Jabal Nafusa in Libya, Mzab in Algeria, East Africa (particularly Zanzibar) and Djerba Island in Tunisia. The early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi, and refugees from its capital Tahert founded the North African Ibadi communities which exist today.


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