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The only surviving branch today of the Kharijite schismatic rebels of the seventh century.

The Kharijite movement broke with the fourth caliph Ali in 657 after he agreed to submit his conflict with the governor of Syria, Muʿawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, to arbitration. This action, the Kharijites argued, undermined both the religious and political leadership of Ali. Equally hostile to Umayyad rule by hereditary succession, the Kharijites espoused an ideology of absolute egalitarianism, social austerity, and militant puritanism. The two major Kharijite factions were the Azariqa, who waged a relentless war to overthrow the existing social and political order, and the Ibadiyya, who took a politically quiescent position (kitman) during the civil wars of the seventh century.

The Ibadiyya, who derive their name from their founder Abdallah ibn Ibad al-Murri al-Tamimi (died c. 720), were originally based in Basra. Under the early Abbasids in the eighth and ninth centuries, the Ibadiyya took an activist missionary approach (zuhur) and spread in the desert frontier regions of north Africa (Tahert), and eastern and southern Arabia (Hadramawt) among tribal social segments. The Ibadiyya developed an elaborate political theory that emphasizes the primacy of religious leadership (imamate), but allows the coexistence of various imams (unlike in Shiʿism). Notwithstanding their acceptance of the Muʿtazilite doctrine of the createdness of the Qurʾan, the Ibadiyya largely concur with Sunni Islam, particularly the Maliki school on matters of law. The sect survives today in Oman, eastern Africa (Zanzibar), Libya (Jabal Nafusa and Zuagha), the island of Djerba (Tunisia), and southern Algeria (Wargla and Mzab).

See also maliki school of law; sunni islam.


Watt, W. Montgomery. Islamic Political Thought: The Basic Concepts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1968.

tayeb el-hibri