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North African and Omani Ibâḍî Accounts of the Munâẓâra: A Preliminary Comparison

Les récits ibâḍites nord-africains et omanais de la Munâẓara : comparaison préliminaire
Adam Gaiser
p. 63-73

Résumés

Cet article propose une comparaison entre les versions ibâḍites occidentales (nord africaines) et orientales (omanaises) de la munâara (« le débat ») qui eut lieu à Ḥarûrâ’ avant la bataille de Nahrâwân. Il démontre l’existence de deux traditions similaires mais distinctes. Une comparaison avec les versions non-Ibâḍites de ce même débat (al-Ṭabarî, al-Balâdhurî, al-Baghdâdî, etc) souligne que celles-ci possèdent des thèmes et des structures narratives comparables aux récits issus de la tradition ibâḍite occidentale (nord-africaine). La clef de compréhension de ces configurations textuelles nous est donnée par la figure du dernier imâm de Basra, Abû Sufyân Maḥbûb Ibn al-Raḥîl. Il est l’auteur du Kitâb Abî Sufyân, écrit pour répondre à la demande de l’imâm rustumide Aflaḥ Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhâb. Cet ouvrage pourrait avoir inclus des traditions ibâḍites venues de Basra et de Kûfa qui ne s’étaient pas diffusées couramment parmi les Ibâḍites d’Oman. C’est sans doute pour cette raison que les récits non-Ibâḍites et les récits ibâḍites occidentaux de la munâara partagent des caractéristiques qui sont en revanche absentes des récits ibâḍites orientaux, alors qu’Oman occupait une position géographique plus proche des lieux d’origine de la tradition ibâḍite.

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Texte intégral

1This chapter compares different textual accounts of the debate (munâẓâra) with the Khârijites (khawârij) that took place before the Battle of Nahrawân, focusing on the post-6th/12th century North African and Omani Ibâḍî sources for those accounts. While numerous descriptions of the munâẓâra exist in the standard and often Sunnî sources of Islamic history, Ibâḍî versions of the munâẓâra have not, to my knowledge, been much examined. This under-utilization is unfortunate because, as the sole surviving sub-sect of the Khârijites that traced themselves directly to the early muḥâkkima of Nahrawân, the medieval Ibâḍiyya preserved traditions about the munâẓâra that offer unique Ibâḍî perspectives on the event. This study will concern itself with mapping out some of the various textual versions of the munâẓâra as a preliminary step toward a fuller study – one that will analyze, compare and contextualize more of the content of these versions – and that I hope to complete in the future.

2Al-Tâbarî dates the munâẓâra to the year 37/657-658, after ‘Alî b. Abî Ṭâlib accepted Mu‘âwiya’s call for arbitration (taḥkîm) at the Battle of Ṣiffîn, but before the arbitration had actually taken place (al-Tâbarî, 1879 : 1/3329). According to al-Tâbarî and most other historians, significant portions of ‘Alî’s army became dissatisfied with ‘Alî’s decision to cease hostilities with Mu‘âwiya, and began to demand that ‘Alî resume fighting. When he refused, frustrated groups within his army seceded from him and decamped to an area south of Kûfa known as Ḥârûrâ’, and then later moved to Nahrawân. Sunnî writers often point to this event as the genesis of the terms khawârij, literally « those who secede », and ḥârûriyya, « those from Ḥârûrâ’ ». The group also became known by the term muḥâkkima, a word that comes from the slogan lâ ḥukm illâ li-lâh, « no Judgment but God’s » (al-Ash‘arî, 1999 : 1/207 ; al-Baghdâdî, 1987 : 56-57). At some point after their secession (either at Ḥârûrâ’ or Nahrawân) ‘Alî sent Ibn ‘Abbâs to those Muslims who would become known as the Khârijites, and the munâẓâra ensued.

3There are several published Ibâḍî accounts of the munâẓâra : of the four that provide complete narratives of the event, the first is preserved in al-Qalhâtî’s al-Kashf wa al-Bayân. Its author, Abû Sa‘îd Muḥammad b. Sa‘îd al-Qalhâtî, was an important Omani Ibâḍî scholar in the late 6th/12th to the early 7th/13th centuries. The al-Kashf wa al-Bayân is a work in two parts : the first section presents early Islamic history, especially the rise of the Ibâḍiyya from the Khârijites ; the second uses the erring sects format to locate the Ibâḍiyya as true Islamic firqa among the constellation of Islamic groups (al-Qalhâtî, 1984 : 75-84). Another complete munâẓâra account comes from Sirhân b. Sa‘îd al-Izkawî’s Kashf al-Ghumma al-Jâmi‘ li-Akhbâr al-Umma. Al-Izkawî was an Omani Ibâḍî from the late-11th to early-12th/late 17th to early-18th centuries. Like al-Qalhâtî’s Kashf wa al-Bayân, which might indeed be one of its sources, the Kashf al-Ghumma covers several centuries of Ibâḍî history, includes discussions of the Islamic sects from an Ibâḍî standpoint, and relies heavily on earlier works, though it does not often name the sources from which it borrows (al-Izkawî, 2006 : 1/574-582 ; Rawas, 2000 : 10-12). These two munâẓâra accounts are virtually identical, suggesting either a common source, or that al-Qalhâtî was in fact the source for al-Izkawî.

4The third complete munâẓâra account comes from Abû al-Qâsim b. Ibrâhîm al-Barrâdî, a North African Ibâḍî of the 8th/14th century whose work, the Kitâb al-Jawâhir al-Muntaqât fî Itmâm Mâ Akhalla bihi Kitâb al-Tâbaqât (it’s abridged title is the Kitâb al-Jawâhir) is a historical and biographical appendix to al-Darjînî’s Kitâb Tâbaqât al-Mashayikh bî al-Maghrib (al-Barrâdî, 1885 : 119-125). Finally, the fourth published munâẓâra account is preserved in the Kitâb al-Siyar of Abû al-‘Abbâs Aḥmad b. Abî ‘Uthmân al-Shammâkhî. After he died in Libya, in the Jabal Nafûsa region, in 928/1522, his biographical dictionary became one of the best known and oft-consulted works on Ibâḍî history (al-Shammâkhî, 1987 : 1/48-50). Al-Barrâdî and al-Shammâkhî’s munâẓâra accounts are likewise nearly identical, but al-Barrâdî preserves the more complete version.

5In addition to complete accounts of the munâẓâra, there are abbreviated versions to be found in early Omani sources : in the so-called « second letter » to an unnamed Shî‘ite attributed to the supposed eponym of the Ibâḍiyya, ‘Abdullâh b. Ibâḍ, that is preserved in al-Izkawî’s Kashf al-Ghumma (among other places) ; substantive references to the munâẓâra can also be found in Abû Mu’thir al-Sâlt b. Khamîs and Abû Qaḥṭân Khâlid b. Qaḥṭân’s epistles (Ibn Ibâḍ in al-Izkawî, 2006 : 1/604-605 ; Abû Mu’thir al-Sâlt b. Khamîs, Sîra in Kâshif, 1989 : 2/305-307 ; Abû Qaḥṭân Khâlid Ibn Qaḥṭân, Sîra in Kâshif, 1989 : 1/106-107). These accounts do not appear to be related to either the Qalhâtî-Izkawî or the Barrâdî-Shammâkhî versions.

6Lastly, several Omani manuscripts contain partial references or full accounts of the munâẓâra. An anonymous manuscript from the Library of Sayyid Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Su‘ûd in Sîb (nº 865) entitled Kitâb al-Siyar contains a complete munâẓâra account that matches those found in al-Qalhâtî and al-Izkawî (folios 141-158). Another siyar collection from the same library (nº 2023) has a sîra devoted to the « proofs that the Muslims presented against ‘Alî » (al-Ḥujja aḥtajû bihi al-Muslimûn ‘alâ ‘Alî b. Abî Ṭâlib : folios 309-313). This appears to be the same sîra that is contained in the Kitâb al-Siyar manuscript from the al-Sâlimî library in Bidiyya (folios 398-401). Another munâẓâra account can be found in the Siyar collection from the Al Bûsa‘îdî library (folios 320-324). Last of all, the Hinds Xerox contains scattered references to the munâẓâra in section 16 (12), which purports to be taken from a book that preserved ‘Alî’s letters (Crone, 2001 : 4 ; Hinds Xerox/Cambridge Manuscript Or. 1402 : folios 224-237 or 254-267 by Crone’s re-numbering).

7As it is obvious, there are several sources for the munâẓâra. This study focuses on the accounts of the Omani scholars al-Qalhâtî and al-Izkawî, as well as the anonymous account in the Kitâb al-Siyar from the Sayyid Muhâmmad b. Aḥmad library, and the North African scholars al-Barrâdî and al-Shammâkhî, though it will incorporate some earlier materials and will offer some preliminary comments on the manuscripts. A source-critical comparison of these Ibâḍî munâẓâra accounts reveals two discrete post-6th/12th century North African and Omani Ibâḍî munâẓâra traditions : the Qalhâti-Izkawî tradition from Oman, and the Barrâdî-Shammâkhî from North Africa. Although there are many points of commonality, these munâẓâra traditions have dissimilar narrative structures and stress different points of argumentation – enough so that they can be considered separate munâẓâra traditions. A further comparison of these materials with non-Ibâḍî munâẓâra accounts will show that al-Barrâdî’s version, which is the longer of the two North African accounts, possesses certain elements in common with non-Ibâḍî versions, especially Abû Mikhnaf’s version in al-Tâbarî and secondarily with al-Balâdhûrî’s account, suggesting that al-Barrâdî’s North African source or sources for the munâẓâra debate were Iraqi (i.e. Kufan and/or Basran) in origin. As a final thought, this chapter will consider the figure of Abû Sufyân Maḥbûb b. al-Raḥîl (var. al-Ruḥâyl) as the likely connection between Iraqi and North African munâẓâra traditions.

8Differences between the al-Qalhâtî, al-Izkawî and the anonymous Omani sîra versions of the munâẓâra can be detected in their narrative structures, as well as in certain specific debate points. Omani accounts in general, and al-Qalhâtî, al-Izkawî and the anonymous manuscript (hereafter referred to as the « Eastern-QIA » accounts) in particular, for example, present Ibn ‘Abbâs as the main contender in the debate (Abû Mu’thir’s account presents an exception, naming ‘Alî’s shî‘a as the debaters), which takes place at Nahrawân – not at Ḥârûrâ’ – just before the battle there that effectively decimated the first Khârijites. According to these Eastern versions, after the Khârijites bested Ibn ‘Abbâs, he returned to ‘Alî and refused to join the fight against the Khârijites (al-Qalhâtî, 1984 : 84 ; al-Izkawî, 2006 : 1/582 ; Ibn Qaḥṭân in Kâshif, 1989 : 1/107).

9Al-Shammâkhî and al-Barrâdî’s accounts (hereafter referred to as the « Western-SB » versions), on the other hand, have Ibn ‘Abbâs initially debating with the Khârijites, but disappearing from the narrative when ‘Alî himself comes to argue with them. Unlike the Eastern-QIA narratives, Western-SB accounts of the debate place it at Ḥârûrâ’, and have ‘Alî repent the arbitration and agree to resume the fight with Mu‘âwiya. However, once in Kufa, Western-SB versions relate that al-Ash‘ath b. Qays convinced ‘Alî to stick to the arbitration agreement, at which point the Khârijites seceded from ‘Alî again, decamping to Nahrawân. In this way, the Western-SB versions introduce ‘Alî as a debater, at Ḥârûrâ’, and interpose his repentance and eventual return to the arbitration into the narrative structure of the munâẓâra, whereas Eastern-QIA versions simply have Ibn ‘Abbâs, at Nahrawân, debating before the battle.

10In addition to the unique ways that Western-SB and Eastern-QIA munâẓâra accounts structure and organize their respective narratives, they often differ in the specific content of the arguments that the Khârijites advance against either Ibn ‘Abbâs or Ibn ‘Abbâs and ‘Alî. For example, Eastern-QIA narratives have the Khârijites criticize ‘Alî for a punitive agreement between ‘Alî and Mu‘âwiya whereby the two agreed to return to the other for punishment soldiers of their respective armies who violated the law (al-Qalhâtî, 1984 : 81 ; al-Izkawî, 2006 : 1/580). In these versions, the Khârijites argue that ḥadd punishments are universal, and must be applied by the Imâm regardless of who offers protection to the guilty. By recognizing Mu‘âwiya’s right to punish his own soldiers, they argue, ‘Alî compromised his position as Imâm. This specific line of argumentation is found only in the Eastern-QIA munâẓâra narratives.

11On the other hand, Western-SB accounts preserve their own unique lines of argumentation : al-Barrâdî, for example, has ‘Alî presenting Qur’an 3:23 as proof of the validity of arbitration, because (we are told) al-Ash‘ath b. Qays used it against the Khârijites at the battle of Ṣiffîn. In both al-Shammâkhî and al-Barrâdî’s versions, the Khârijites counter ‘Alî’s argument by pointing out that the verse was revealed as a reprimand of the People of the Book, who were accused of turning away from what portions of God’s revelation they received and prevaricating when invited to submit a case for arbitration before the Prophet (al-Barrâdî, 1887 : 124 ; al-Shammâkhî, 1987 : 1/49). In these versions, the Khârijites further argue that if ‘Alî wishes to use this verse as « proof » of the validity of the arbitration, then he lowers himself and those with him to the position of People of the Book – and consequently to misguidance (ḍâlâla) – while raising Mu‘âwiya and his party to the status of guided believers who call others to the Book of God. This particular line of argumentation is restricted to the Western-SB Ibâḍî versions of the munâẓâra. Thus, in addition to the unique ways that the narratives unfold, certain version-specific arguments lend credence to the notion of separate Eastern-QIA and Western-SB munâẓâra traditions.

12Comparison of the Eastern-QIA and Western-SB (and especially al-Barrâdî) munâẓâra traditions with non-Ibâḍî traditions further solidifies the notion of discrete post-6th/12th century regional munâẓâra accounts by revealing certain parallels between the Western-SB versions and non-Ibâḍî accounts. In particular, there seems to be strong textual correlations between al-Barrâdî’s version and that of Abû Mikhnaf in al-Tâbarî, suggesting common materials. Abû Mikhnaf (d. 157/774), it should be recalled, was a pro-‘Alîd Kufan historian whose writings on the Khârijites served as a basis for later historical writing on the subject: al-Balâdhurî’s version of the munâẓâra, for example, seems to have used either Abû Mikhnaf’s writings, or the sources that Abû Mikhnaf consulted. In general, Western-SB versions parallel non-Ibâḍî accounts of the munâẓâra in narrative structure: al-Dinâwarî, al-Mubarrad, al-Balâdhurî, Ibn Kathîr and Abû Mikhnaf’s version in al-Tâbarî narrate along with Ibâḍî Western-SB accounts that it was first Ibn ‘Abbâs and then ‘Alî who debated with the Khârijites at Hârûrâ’(al-Tâbarî, 1879 : 1/3352 ; Ibn al-Athîr, 1851 : 3/327 ; Ibn Kathîr, 2004 : 5/511-512 ; al-Balâdhurî, 1996 : 3/122 ; al-Mubarrad, n.d. : 9, 23 ; al-Dinâwarî, n.d. : 189-192). Al-Baghdâdî’s account mentions ‘Alî alone as the debater (al-Baghdâdî, 1987 : 58-60). It is between al-Barrâdî and Abû Mikhnaf, however, where more profound parallels can be found : for example, in al-Barrâdî, ‘Alî’s appearance in the Khârijite camp causes a stir, such that ‘Alî requests to speak first with one hundred representatives of the Khârijites, and then finally chooses ten of them with which to debate. In the course of the debate, ‘Alî chastises this group of Khârijites, reminding them that is was they who initially pressured him into accepting the arbitration (al-Barrâdî, 1885, 122, 124). This narrative account matches details given in Abû Mikhnaf’s version: here ‘Alî gives Ibn ‘Abbâs explicit instructions not to debate with the Khârijites until ‘Alî’s arrival. Ibn ‘Abbâs, however, is drawn into debate, and is saved only by ‘Alî’s entrance (al-Tâbarî, 1879, 1/3352). Once arrived, ‘Alî makes an effort to speak with the « leaders » of the Khârijites (the number is not specified), and then censures these Khârijites for forcing him into arbitration (al-Tâbarî, 1879 : 1/3352-3353 ; al-Balâdhurî, 1996 : 3/122-123). Al-Dinâwarî and al-Mubarrad’s accounts also include in their narrations ‘Alî’s reprimand of the Khârijites for initially forcing him into arbitration (al-Mubarrad, n.d. : 23; al-Dinâwarî, n.d. : 191).

13Other striking parallels between al-Barrâdî and Abû Mikhnaf exist at the level of textual comparison. Abû Mikhnaf preserves a report from ‘Abd al-Raḥmân b. Jundab al-Azdî’s, which purports to be from the Khârijites themselves, in which Ibn Jundab describes a different outcome of the munâẓâra whereby the Khârijites admit to initially forcing ‘Alî into arbitration, but claim to have subsequently repented. In this version, the Khârijites then demand repentance and a new oath of allegiance from ‘Alî. After giving their allegiance, ‘Alî commands them to return to Kufa, saying : « We will wait for six months until the money is raised and the horses are fattened (yasman al-kurâ‘), and then we will go out against our enemy » (al-Tâbarî, 1879 : 1/3353). Although al-Tâbarî, in a rare editorial comment, dismisses this report as a Khârijite lie, the language is echoed in al-Barrâdî’s version of the munâẓâra: there ‘Alî repents of and renounces the arbitration agreement, announcing that the Khârijites will « fatten the horses (nasman al-kurâ‘) and go to our [i.e. the Khârijite’s] enemies » (al-Barrâdî, 1885 : 125). Similarly, al-Balâdhurî’s account gives ‘Alî’s repentance, followed by the Khârijites saying: « we will raise money and fatten our horses (nasman al-kurâ‘), and then go out against [Mu‘âwiya] » (al-Balâdhurî, 1996 : 3/123). Neither this narrative structure nor the specific language of fattening horses can be found in the Eastern-QIA versions of the munâẓâra, but it is clearly shared by Abû Mikhnaf, al-Balâdhurî and al-Barrâdî. Abû Mikhnaf and al-Balâdhurî, of course, likely shared a common source for their information on the Khârijites: indeed it is possible that al-Balâdhurî used Abû Mikhnaf himself. Al-Barrâdî’s use of the same language, however, remains somewhat surprising, and could suggest a common source for Abû Mikhnaf/al-Balâdhurî and al-Barrâdî.

14Even when common arguments can be found to exist between the Western-SB, Eastern-QIA and non-Ibâḍî munâẓâra versions, Western-SB Ibâḍî accounts and Abû Mikhnaf’s account seem to be exceptionally close in language and style. Familiar to Ibâḍî and certain non-Ibâḍî munâẓâra accounts is the Khârijite accusation that ‘Alî gave up his right to rule as Imâm by accepting arbitration – a charge that usually leads in the narrative to a reference to the Prophet Muḥammad’s actions at Ḥudaybiyya. In Eastern-QIA accounts the « Ḥudaybiyya argument » (as we will call it here for short) unfolds as follows : the Khârijites open by accusing ‘Alî of abandoning the title amîr al-mu`minîn, demanding arbitration, and in doing so, removing « the garment in which God had clothed him » (al-Qalhâtî, 1984, 75; al-Izkawî, 2006, 1/574). Ibn ‘Abbâs counters with the argument that ‘Alî was merely doing what the Prophet had done at Ḥudaybiyya when he agreed to change his name from « Muḥammad the Prophet of God » to « Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abdullâh » at the protestations of the Quraysh. In other words, Ibn ‘Abbâs’s counter-argument is that ‘Alî had ample precedent in the Prophet’s actions at Ḥudaybiyya to reach some sort of agreement with his enemies, even if it meant compromising some of his authority. The Khârijite counter, which comes later in the Eastern-QIA texts, is that Muḥammad’s action was a stage in the development of Islam and an exception allowed by God at that time, but, like the qibla change, was meant to be superseded by later revelations such as that of 9:28 that forbid non-Muslims from entering the sanctuary of Makka after they were initially permitted to do so (al-Qalhâtî, 1984 : 77-78; al-Izkawî, 2006 : 1/577).

15Abû Mu’thir’s brief munâẓâra narrative has the opponents of the Khârijites (who in this version are simply unnamed partisans – shî‘a – of ‘Alî) cite the example of the Ḥudaybiyya treaty (mu‘âhada) with Suhayl b. ‘Amr. Though Abû Mu’thir does not elaborate, it seems that the issue here is the making and breaking of treaties with non-Muslims, rather than the symbolic redaction of the title and authority. The Khârijites of Abû Mu’thir’s version counter that the Ḥudaybiyya treaty was nullified when God commanded Muslims to fight against non-believers in 9:5 and 9:29, and against rebels in 49:9 (Abû Mu’thir in Kâshif, 1989 : 2/305).

16With the exception of Abû Mikhnaf, variations of the « Ḥudaybiyya argument » appear in several non-Ibâḍî versions of the munâẓâra, though unsurprisingly the argument is presented so as to champion ‘Alî at the expense of the Khârijites. Al-Baghdâdî’s account, along with Ibn Kathîr, for example, make explicit reference to the changing of Muḥammad’s name at Ḥudaybiyya as a means by which ‘Alî counters the Khârijite charge that he obliterated his name in the written agreement between he and Mu‘âwiya (al-Baghdâdî, 1987 : 58-59; Ibn Kathîr, 2004 : 5/512). In Ibn Kathîr’s version, the Khârijites claim, in language reminiscent of the Eastern-QIA accounts, that ‘Alî discarded the garment (qamîṣ) in which God clothed him, and the title by which God named him, meaning the Caliphate (Ibn Kathîr, 2004, 5/511). The Khârijite charge is similarly presented in al-Balâdhurî and al-Mubarrad’s versions : here the Khârijites accuse ‘Alî of not including his title « Commander of the Faithful » in the written agreement with Mu‘âwiya. In al-Balâdhurî, the Khârijites rhetorically ask : « were you in doubt over your right to it? » at which time ‘Alî’s Ḥudaybiyya argument follows to the effect that ‘Alî was justified in omitting his title just as the Prophet was justified in doing the same (al-Balâdhurî, 1996 : 3/123 ; al-Mubarrad, n.d. : 24).

17Given the proliferation of the Ḥudaybiyya argument in its various forms, its absence in both Western-SB and Abû Mikhnaf’s versions is conspicuous. On the issue of ‘Alî’s acceptance of arbitration, and subsequent invalidation of his Imâmate, al-Barrâdî’s argument is somewhat more elliptical that its Eastern-QIA counterparts, and also unique. For al-Barrâdî the action that invalidated ‘Alî’s claim to Caliphal authority involved making a covenant (mu‘âhada) with the « people of war ». Al-Barrâdî uses Qur’an 9:29 to argue that God forbade such a covenant unless the combatants are willing to pay the jizya (al-Barrâdî, 1885 : 122). Abû Mikhnaf’s version of this particular Khârijite argument echoes al-Barrâdî’s with strikingly similar language and allusions : « Now you [‘Alî] and he [Mu‘âwiya] have written between you a document and agreed on a truce (muwâ‘ada) and discussion, but God has put an end to discussion and truces between the Muslims and the ‘people of war’ since the revelation of al-Barâ’a (i.e. sûra 9), except for those who agree to pay the jizya » (al-Tâbarî, 1879 : 1/3351-3352). Neither Abû Mikhnaf nor al-Barrâdî’s versions make explicit mention of Ḥudaybiyya, while both cite agreements with « people of war », the prohibition of these agreements in sûra 9, and the issue of jizya as part of the Khârijite argument, and in both Abû Mikhnaf and al-Barrâdî’s versions Ibn ‘Abbâs has no answer to this argument. Compared with other Eastern Ibâḍî and non-Ibâḍî arguments that revolve around Ḥudaybiyya, this parallelism between the Western-SB accounts and Abû Mikhnaf becomes especially apparent.

18The preceding analysis of Islamic munâẓâra narratives has made two points clear : first, that two post-6th/12th century Ibâḍî munâẓâra versions can be identified, one representing a tradition shared by the Omani scholars al-Qalhâtî and al-Izkawî as well as an anonymous Ibâḍî sîra, and the other from the North Africans al-Barrâdî and al-Shammâkhî ; and second, that the al-Barrâdî-Shammâkhî version (especially al-Barrâdî) contains fairly close textual parallels with Abû Mikhnaf’s account of the munâẓâra as it is preserved in al-Tâbarî’s chronicle, and secondarily with other non-Ibâḍî accounts such as al-Balâdhurî.

19One possible source for the equivalencies between the Western-SB and Abû Mikhnaf/al-Balâdhurî is the Basran Ibâḍî Imâm, Abû Sufyân Maḥbûb Ibn al-Raḥîl (var. al-Ruhâyl) who died in the mid-3rd/9th century (Wilkinson, 2010 : 163). Abû Sufyân’s work, which was probably commissioned by the Rustumid Imâm Aflaḥ Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhâb (ruled 250-255/864-868), was biographical in nature, and concerned with creating a line of development from the Khârijites who seceded at Nahrawân to the Ibâḍiyya of Abû Sufyân’s day (Wilkinson believes that it was actually another Iraqi Ibâḍî, Abû Ṣufra ‘Abd al-Mâlik b. Ṣufra, who compiled the Kitâb Abî Sufyân for Imâm Aflaḥ). Large portions of the Kitâb Abî Sufyân survive in the biographical works of the North African historians al-Darjînî and Abu Zakariyya, as well as in al-Shammâkhî and al-Barrâdî. As Wilkinson further observes, Abû Sufyân probably used an earlier source (also lost) : an anecdotal and biographical treatment of the early Khârijites by Abû Yazîd al-Khwârizmî (d. mid-2nd/8th century), who was a contemporary of the Basran Imâm Abû ‘Ubayda (Wilkinson, 1985, 251). Wilkinson has also suggested that the Kitâb Abî Sufyân was unknown in Oman before the 6th/12th century, and then only slowly began to become incorporated into Omani-Ibâḍî scholarship (Wilkinson, 2010 : 164).

20As a Basran, Abû Sufyân (or indeed the Iraqi Abû Ṣufra) undoubtedly had access to traditions that circulated among the quietist Khârijite populations of Iraq. These traditions would have been the very same ones available to Abû Mikhnaf, and possibly to al-Balâdhurî (it is worth noting that al-Mubarrad, an Omani of the Azd, surely had access to Khârijite-penned accounts when he collected his Kâmil). Elsewhere, Wilkinson has shown that Abû Sufyân’s family, even after they moved from Basra to Ṣuhâr in Oman, were more oriented in their scholarship and outlook toward Iraq norms, a fact that nearly got Abû Ṣufyân’s son, Abû ‘Abdullâh Muhâmmad b. Maḥbûb into trouble during the Damâ debate over the created/un-created nature of the Qur’an (Wilkinson, 2010 : 271-272). Abû ‘Abdullâh’s son, Abû al-Mundhir Bashîr b. Muhâmmad b. Maḥbûb, likewise shows a marked tendency toward Iraqi/Mu‘tazilite views in his theological works (al-Salimi, 2011 : vii-viii). Thus, if three generations of the Âl Raḥîl maintained their connection to Iraqi traditions of scholarship, it should not surprise us terribly if Abû Sufyân’s Kitâb likewise displays a propensity to incorporate Iraqi-Khârijite traditions like those used by Abû Mikhnaf and al-Balâdhurî.

21More research is surely needed to uncover further links between Ibâḍî munâẓâra accounts. Western scholars have not, to my knowledge, searched North African Ibâḍî manuscript libraries for what they might have to offer on the munâẓâra. Yet surely they would yield some important information : Van Ess, for example, notes the existence of an anonymous 5th/11th century North African Ibâḍî handbook on theological disputation, the Kitâb al-Jahâlât, and speculates that it contains older materials (Van Ess, 1980 : 15). Given that the munâẓâra was itself a disputation that was extremely important to Ibâḍî self-fashioning, such a text seems like a fruitful place to begin looking.

22Likewise, a more thorough investigation of Omani versions of the munâẓâra, including those manuscripts mentioned above, would provide a fuller understanding of the textual geography of Omani munâẓâra accounts. As it stands now, it seems as if the Omani traditions preserves a wider variety of munâẓâra texts than what can be found in North Africa: while al-Qalhâtî’s version is reflected in at least two other sources, Abû Mu’thir and Ibn Qaḥṭân seem to reflect independent sources, as does Ibn Ibâḍ’s comments, the al-Ḥujja aḥtajû bihi al-Muslimûn ‘alâ ‘Alî b. Abî Ṭâlib (the two copies of which are virtually identical), the munâẓâra account from the Al-Bûsa‘îdî library, and the portions of the Hind’s Xerox. Of course, a closer examination of these manuscripts is needed to determine what, if any, textual connections might exist between them, and the discovery of more North African manuscripts may uncover heretofore unknown North African versions of the munâẓâra.

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Bibliographie

Al-Ash‘arî Abû al-Ḥâsan, 1999, Kitâb Maqâlât al-Islamiyyin wa Ikhtilâf al-Muṣâllîn, Beirut, Maktabat al-‘Aṣriyya.

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Al-Rawas Isam, 2000, Oman in Early Islamic History, Reading, Ithaca Press.

Van Ess Joseph, 1980, « Abu ‘Ammâr », in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition (Supplement), ed. Clifford Bosworth, Leiden, Brill, p. 15.

Wilkinson John, 1985, « Ibâḍî ḥâdîth: an essay in Normalization », Der Islam, 62, vol. 2, p. 231-259.

—, 2010, Ibâḍism : Origins and Early Development in Oman, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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Adam Gaiser, « North African and Omani Ibâḍî Accounts of the Munâẓâra: A Preliminary Comparison », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 132 | décembre 2012, mis en ligne le 13 décembre 2012, consulté le 24 octobre 2017. URL : http://remmm.revues.org/7778

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Adam Gaiser

Florida State University

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