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Muslims, Scholars, Soldiers: The Origin and Elaboration of the Ibadi Imamate Traditions

Gaiser, Adam


A study of the origin and development of the Ibadi Imamate ideal into its medieval Arabian and North African articulations, this book traces the distinctive features of the Ibadi Imamate to precedents among the early Kharikites, rashidun Caliphs, and pre-Islamic Arabs. Using the "four stages of religion" as an organizing principle, the book examines the four associated Imam-types that are considered appropriate at such stages — the Imam of manifestation, Imam of defense, the "seller" Imam who triumphs over his enemies or "sold" himself to God in the attempt, and Imam of secrecy — and locates each Imam-type within a trajectory of Ibadi development. Some distinctive features of the Ibadi Imamate tradition, such as the shari Imam who selflessly fought for the establishment of the Ibadi polity, are shown to be rooted in the early Kharijite martyrdom narratives that were appropriated by the Ibadiyya and later transformed into systematic doctrines. Still others, such as the weak Imam who accepted provisional authority under the control of the 'ulama' hearken back to pre-Islamic patterns of limited authority that subsequently found their way into early Islamic political norms. Working from a perspective that challenges the interpretation of Kharijite and Ibadite doctrine and practice as "exceptional," this study seeks to root Ibadi political theory in the same early traditions of Islamic political practice that later provided legitimacy to Sunni Muslim political theorists. The result is a historically grounded and complex presentation of the development of political doctrine among the sole remaining relative of the early quietist Kharijites.

Additional Information

  • Hardback
  • 203 Pages
  • Published: October 2010
  • ISBN: 9780199738939
  • Series: Academy

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