Saturday, January 26, 2013

Abdullah ibn Ibadh: The Truth Voice

Who was he?

Abdullah ibn Ibadh al-Murri al-Tamimi , after who is named the Ibadhi school, belonged to Murrah, a clan of the major tribe of Tamim. The school was named after his father because he was better known than the son, as is the case in Arabic genealogy. Al-Malati alone reported that the sect was named after its founder who is, according to him, Ibadh b. 'Amr. This information cannot be taken into account, for al-Malati reported information about the Kharijites in his book contrary to all sound authorities who dealt with the subject.

Reports about Ibn Ibadh are scarce and very little is known about him in both Ibadhi and non-Ibadhi sources. He is of Banu Sarim b. al-Harith b. Muqa'is of Banu Tamim, one of the main tribes of Mudar. Nothing is known about his early life. However, Muhammad b. Yusuf Atfaiyish, a prominent contemporary Ibadhi scholar suggests that Ibn Ibadh moved from Najd, the homeland of his tribe, to Basrah. He also reported that certain narrations state that he was a 'Sahabi (a companion) for a short time. However, most reliable Ibadhi sources consider him to belong to the class of al-Tabi'aun who lived during the second half of the first century H. It is not known whether he took any active part in the civil wars which occurred among Muslims before the 'Umayyad rule. But it appears that he was not satisfied by the rule of Mu'awiyah and criticizing certain practices that he believed to be contrary to the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

His appearance on the scene

The first definite information about his public activities was about his part in the defense of Mecca against the 'Umayyad leader, Hussain b. Numair al-Sakuni, the successor of Muslim b. Uqbah; when the incident of "al-Hurra" took place (63 H/582 A.D.).

Ibn Ibadh also was among the leaders of the Muhakkimah party who tried to win 'Abdullah b. al-Zubair to their side and offered him their full support if he agreed to their views and dissociated himself from 'Uthman, Talhah, and his own father al-Zubair b. al-Awwam, but 'Abdullah b. al-Zubair refused to agree to their views and they left him, some of them returning to Basrah among whom was 'Abdullah bin Ibadh.

It appears that the attitude of Ibn al-Zubair made them give up all hope of an outstanding leadership (caliphate). A number of leading personalities emerged and sought the leadership of the movement through military action. First of these was Nafii' b. al-Azraq who took an extreme line in his revolt and withdrew with his followers from the Muslim community on the basis that their land was a land of war and they were all polytheists. At this stage Abdullah b. Ibadh appeared as a leading figure who opposed the attitude of Nafii' and other Khariji leaders and refuted them openly. Non-Ibadh sources suggest that this was how the Ibadhi school started, and accredited its foundation to Abdullah b. Ibadh who was according to most of those sources, the head, of the Ibadhi school.

In 64 H, Abdullah ibn Ibadh; along with a group of Muhakkimah, was arrested and put in prison. As a result of the developments that followed Yazid’s death, Ibn Ibadh and others managed to gain their freedom.

The move of Ibn al-'Azraq was the first serious split in the Muhakkimah party. The doctrines introduced by Nafii b, al-Azraq created different reactions to them by the leading members of the Muhakkimah party. Both Jabir b. Zaid and 'Abdullah b. Ibadh opposed the views of Nafii' and defended and propagated the old principles of the Muhakkimah.

The doctrine which was introduced by Nafii' b. al-Azraq was that Khuruj or hijrah, to their camp is obligatory. He regarded the land of their Muslim opponents (al-mukhalifun) as the land of war (dar al-harb), and regarded those who took no action (al-qa'adah) as idolaters on the basis of the Qur'anic verse,"If you obey them you are idolaters." This doctrine was contrary to the doctrine held by the Muhakkimah that their Muslim opponents were simply 'infidels-ingrate," (kuffar), not polytheists, that their fellow Muslims could live among their opponents, and allowed qu'ud, so that Khuruj or hijrah is not obligatory.

Ibadhis kept to the doctrine of the early Muhakkimah and rejected the attitude of Nafii' and maintained that both parties, i.e. those who come out for jihad and those who took no action, al-qa'adah, are Muslims; those who take no action support those who come for jihad and hold belief in association with them, and the latter pardon the weakness of those who take no action.This doctrine was expressed later in the following statement, (La Hijra baad al-Fath), which is in fact a part of Tradition of the Prophet,and was used almost in all Ibadhi creeds to express their view of the question of hijrah, or Khuruj.

The relationship between Abdullah ibn Ibadh and Jabir ibn Zaid

The information given in Ibadhi sources shows that 'Abdullah b. Ibadh played a secondary part in the foundation and the leadership of the Ibadhi movement compared with its first Imam and founder Jabir b. Zaid. It is reported that Ibn Ibadh in all his activities was acting according to orders from Jabir b. Zaid. It is also stated that Ibn Ibadh was the most prominent theologian of the time of Jabir b. Zaid, and that he was the one who refuted openly the view of opponent groups of Qadarites, Mu'tazilites, Muji'ites, Shi'tes, and extreme Kharijites. It is believed that Ibn Ibadh propagated openly the views of his school, despite the fact that the activities of the Ibadhi School were carried out in secrecy at that time, because he enjoyed the protection of his tribe. Another reason was that the Ibadhi movement after the revolt of Nafii' b. al-'Azraq was obliged to make its views about the Azraqites known to the public to keep the support of ordinary Muslims, and to the authorities to avoid their persecution.

Jabir b. Zaid who was the Imam of the Ibadhi movement at that time directed the activities of Ibn Ibadh. The school took the name of Ibn Ibadh, because he used to openly to propagate its views and was known to non-Ibadhi groups for refuting their views as also because of his clear and firm attitude against the extreme Kharijites. Another reason which made the Ibadhi school bear his name could be his political activities and his contacts with the 'Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan with whom he exchanged correspondence.

The Ibadhis did not use at first the name Ibadhis, instead they used the terms 'the Muslims' al-Muslimun, and 'community of the Muslims', Jama'at al-Muslimin, and 'the people of the mission', 'Ahl el-da'wah. The name Ibadhis is not mentioned in early Ibadhi works such as the Mudawanah of Abu Ghanim or any other early works. Later, however, they recognised and accepted this name. It first appears in Maghribi Ibadhi works in the treatise of 'Amrus b. Fath 200 H.


Both Omani authors, al-Qalhati, and Ahmad b. Abdullah al- Ruqaishi mentioned that Ibn Ibadh lived up to the time of Abd al-Malik b. Marwan to whom he wrote the famous letters. But, like other Ibadhi authorities, they did not mentioned whether he lived afterwards or took part in the revolt of Abdullah b. Yahya al-Kindi (129 H). It is unlikely that Ibn Ibadh took part in those wars without being mentioned by Ibadhi authors or other historians who reported those wars such as al-Tabari, al-Isfahani and others. It is perhaps safe to say that he died towards the end of the reign of Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, who died in 86 H, (706 CE). So Ibn Ibadh most probably died before 100 H.

Studies in Ibadhism, al-Ibadiyah; by Dr. Amr Ennami
The Doctrines of the Ibadhi Creed Till the End of the Second AH Century; by Dr. Musallam Salim Al-Wahibi
Al-Ibadhiyah Approach on Dawah; by Dr. Muhammed Salih Nasser


  1. Assalamualaikum.
    May i know if ibadi teaching are still under islam believe or not ?previously there is someone that i know from oman say that they didnt believe in imam mahdi and the return of prophet isa to confront with dajjal.but he say they do believe in dajjal will come as a trial to test our faith.are they like muktazilah or kharijites.can i get clear picture here at least from ur opinion.tq

    1. Dear, Ibadhi's are Muslims, ibadhi is a school of thought ijtihad just like sunni, shiah etc. There is no evidence in the Quran of the coming of imam mahdi, or the return of issa alayhi salaam. Ibadhis are not kharijities, you to understand first what does kharijities means.

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