Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fearful Iraqis seek haven in Syria
From blog member Samer al-Batal, safe in Beirut and with us again after a long absence

Ibadi Muslims (more)
Samer writes: They are the majority in Oman and form the small, fascinating, and only surviving faction of Muslims who belong to what could be called the third and less known branch of Islam. Other Muslims would call them Khawarij, or ‘exiters’ (those who have exited), though as a faction, they have evolved to beyond what characterised the mainstream Khawarij. They ultimately took neither side, Sunni or Shi’ite, in the question of the caliphate after Uthmaan, having as Shi’ite followers of Imam Ali rejected the Umay’yads in the person of Mu`aawiya, but then afterwards deserting Ali, considering his right to the caliphate forfeited after having improperly accepted Mu`aawiya’s compromise of arbitration. Ibadism assigns Muslims not of the sect to a special category of ‘heretics’, kuf’faar un’ni`ma, as opposed to outright idolaters.

Update from Samer: It wouldn’t be right to speak of Sunni or Shi’ite sides when talking about the conflicts between Mu`aawiya and Ali, as the Sunnis accept the caliphate of Ali, but also accept the legitimacy of Mu`aawiya’s Umay’yad dynasty which succeeded Ali, whereas Shi`a consider the Umay’yads the persecutors of the prophet’s family who ultimately killed Muhammad’s grandson Hussein at Karbalaa’. The Kharijites too greatly opposed the new dynasty.

Also, I should not have said that Kharijites were Ali’s Shi’ite (in the sense we would understand the term today) followers at the time before defecting (but they certainly were from amongst his forces and supporters). These core followers from the start did not accept the legitimacy of the first three caliphs who preceded Ali. Kharijites, though, if their view on this matter was the same as that of Ibadis today, would have recognised the first two, Abu Bakr and `Umar, as rightly guided.

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