Islam in Oman
The majority of Omanis are Ibadi Muslims, followers of Abd Allah ibn Ibad. This next biggest group are Sunni Muslims. The Shi'a minority live along Al Batinah and Muscat coasts. This minority includes the Al-Lawatis, the Bahranis of Bahraini descent, and the Ajam, who are of unclear origins but whose putative point of origin is Iran.
Christians and Jews have historically been able to practice their own religions openly in Oman. The society is tolerant, though social hierarchies do exist. In Ibadi communities, the traditional Arab coffee is served to Muslims first, with Christians being served after the poor Muslims; in Sunni communities, Christian guests may actually be served even before the respected Muslim leaders and clerics.
Many people[who?] believe that Ibadism is an outgrowth of the Kharijites movement, a variant form of Islam practiced by descendants of a sect that seceded from the principal Muslim body after the death of Muhammad in 632. Ibadies, however, deny this notion considering themselves an outgrowth [lead by?] the follower (tabe'e) Jābir ibn Zayd. Ibadies reject primogeniture succession of the Quraysh, the tribe of Muhammad, and assert that leadership of Islam, the caliphate, should be designated by an imam elected by the community from candidates who possess spiritual and personal qualities. Ibadhi leadership is vested in an imam, who is regarded as the sole legitimate leader and combines religious and political authority. The imam is elected by a council of prominent laymen or shaykhs. Adherence to Ibadism accounts in part for Oman's historical isolation. Ibadis were not inclined to integrate with their neighbours, as the majority of Sunni Muslims regard Ibadism as a heretical form of Islam.
The austere, puritanical nature of Ibadism has affected the practice of Islam in the country. Omani mosques are very simple, with almost no decoration expect around the windows and often lack the minarets common in other Muslim countries. Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta described the cleanliness of Omani mosques, despite the fact that the entire community would congregate to eat inside, each person bringing their own food. The denomination frowns upon singing and dancing. Sharia law is strictly enforced in public and private, and Oman's adherence to conservative Ibadism led to its historical isolation from the rest of the Middle East.
The majority of Sunnis in Oman belong to the Shafi'i and Hanafi Islamic school of law. The people of Dhofar and the population of the eastern cost of Oman from Dhofar up to Sur consists mainly of Shafi'i school. The Baloch ethnic tribe are followers of the Hanafi school, who make up more than 20 percent of Omani citizens. A minority of the Hanbali school followers exist in the northern regions of Oman and in Jalan Bani Bu Ali in Ash Sharqiyah region. A small minority of the Maliki school followers exist in the northern regions of the country near the United Arab Emirates.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.
- Diana Darke, Oman: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 27. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2010.. ISBN 9781841623320
- Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 199. Jubilee edition. Kensington: Stacey International, 1995. ISBN 0905743636
- Donald Hawley, Oman, page 201.
- "Baloch in Oman". http://joshuaproject.net/. Retrieved 27 January 2015.