Thursday, July 13, 2006

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana / Ibadi Islam

I got into an assisted form of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose). I thought my partner was lying when she said my hand was almost on my foot, but then there was my hand, on my foot. Then my other hand, and then my head.


I learned that the muslims in Oman are neither Sunni nor Shi'ite, but Ibadi. Who knew? Thank you, o Peter J. Ochs II, for informing me of this!

Abbreviated breakdown of how the Ibadi's came to be:

The group that came to be known as the Shi'ites believed that Muhammed's sucessor, the caliph (or imam--I'm confused about whether or not these two terms are interchangable), should be in direct lineage from Muhammed's family. In 654, 22 years after the death of Muhammed, Ali (Muhammed's 2nd cousin and son-in-law), became the 4th Shi'ite caliph. Immediately Ali became involved in a war with Muawiya, a distant cousin of the 3rd Shi'ite caliph, Uthman. They fought and fought and no one was winning. Muawiya offered an arbitration and Ali accepted.

A group of Muslims felt that Ali should not have accepted the offer, and so they split from Ali and went to Basra in sourthern Iraq. They became known as the Kharajites (meaning the "seceders"). The Kharajites were known for their super orthodox stance on doctrinal affairs, and for excommunicating or executing anyone who disagreed.

Another group that split from Ali at about the same time advocated a return to an orthodox but not dogmatic belief in the importance of good conduct and religious tolerance. This is the group known as the Ibadis. The initial leader of this group, Abdullah bin Ibadh Al Tamimi, was against the use of force and actively discouraged it, even in Oman where they were persecuted by Sunnis (who were dominant in Oman) and the Kharajites.

The Ibadhi tradition holds that the imam should be elected by a council of scholars. They also allow more than one imam to accomodate different geographical regions--so, for a long time, there was an Ibadhi iman in Oman and also one in north Africa.


tmorange said...

i'm completely ignorant on this and am basing this only on beginning to read books like this and this, but...

i think an imam is like a priest and a caliph like a bishop? (in any case i'm sure they're not synonymous.)

no no, scratch that. i think caliph is the sunni term and imam is the shiite term? i dunno, the following quotations from a lexis-nexis search do not fully disambiguate, do they?

"They saw this as a message in line with the narrative of Twelver Shiism, the brand of Islam followed by 89 percent of Iranians. It reveres the 12th imam, or 12th Shiite caliph, to succeed the prophet Muhammad, the one who disappeared 1,100 years ago and whose return will herald the day of judgment." (Wash Post, 6/25/06)

"[Najaf is famous for] Najaf Shrine of Ali 4th Caliph of Islam and 1st Imam of Shia Islam" (Guardian 2/22/06)

"Baghdad also holds the tomb of Abu Hanifa al-Numan (699-767), the founder of the Hanafi Code of Islamic law, the largest sub-sect among Sunnis. And the tomb of Ali in Najaf is sacred to both Shias and Sunnis. To Shias, he is Imam Ali; to Sunnis he is Caliph Ali." (Independent, 7/10/05)

"The branches disagree about who succeeded Islam's prophet Muhammad after his death in 632. Shiites believe religious authority should have gone to Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, and 11 of his descendents. The slaughter of some of these Shiite successors or "imams" by the ruling caliphs 13 centuries ago led the sect to idealize suffering and martyrdom." (Seattle Times, 5/20/05)

"Shiites - from Shiat Ali, partisans of Ali - considered him the true successor of Muhammad. They wrote off the first three caliphs as usurpers and called Ali their first Imam. And they deemed the tumultuous period until Husain's "martyrdom" as one of grave injustice." (Toronto Star, 2/24/05)

let us know,

tmorange said...

lorraine do you know much arabic or have you ever thought of taking it up? you've already gotta a pretty solid handle on one tough non-indo-european language...


tmorange said...

and then there's also the druse (or is it druze?)...


K. Lorraine Graham said...

I've ordered a little "read and speak" Arabic book for beginners--it has an alphabet, so I'm optimistic. But listening to a CD at home isn't the same thing as speaking it, so we'll see what happens when I get to Oman, but I want to at least be able to read basic signs, order coffee, and tell people my name, say thank you, etc.

And I'm trying to dig up my notes from Nasr's introductory course on Islam, which I took at GW as a junior.

I'm doing a lot of reading on Oman and Islam now in general, so I'll write about what I know as I learn it.

Ray said...

Loooorraaaaiiiiineeeee... I have a ton of Arabic CDs... I could probably e-mail you a couple of lessons if you want more!

K. Lorraine Graham said...

I wouldn't say no--burn me copies!

Ray said...

ok!!! I lurrve my lessons, theyre fun -- i'll get them tomorrow, they're saved on my iPod which's at work!!!