Islam in Oman

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Islam in Oman (2020)[1]

  Sunni Islam (45%)
  Ibadi Islam (45%)
  Shia Islam (5%)
  Other (5%)

Islam in Oman has a has a high following. Islam is the state-religion in Oman. There are about 95% Muslims in Oman.[2] 45% of the Muslim population of Oman follow both Sunni Islam and the Ibadi branch of the sect Kharijite.[2] Islam spread to Oman in the early years.


The Ibadi denomination established itself in the region after fleeing from Basra in modern-day Iraq.[3][4]

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.[3]



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 [led 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 should be designated by an imam elected by the community from candidates who possess the appropriate 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 faith.

The austere, puritanical nature of Ibadism has affected the practice of Islam in the country. Omani mosques are very simple, with almost no decoration except around the windows and often lack the minarets common in other Muslim countries.[3][5] 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.[5] The denomination frowns upon singing and dancing.[3][5]


The Shi'as live along Al Batinah and Muscat coasts. There are at least seven Twelver Shia mosques in Muscat.[6] There is also a community of Nizari Ismaili Shi'a.[7]


In the 1800s, the Jalan Bani Bu Ali tribe converted to Wahhabism. They sporadically fought Ibadi communities but otherwise did not affect the overall religious demographics of Oman.[5]

See also[edit]


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. Country Studies. Federal Research Division.


  1. ^ "Oman | CIA The World Factbook". CIA The World Factbook.
  2. ^ a b "Oman". CIA – The World Factbook. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Diana Darke, Oman: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 27. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2010.. ISBN 9781841623320
  4. ^ Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 199. Jubilee edition. Kensington: Stacey International, 1995. ISBN 0905743636
  5. ^ a b c d Donald Hawley, Oman, page 201.
  6. ^ "".
  7. ^ "Aga Khan announces first Ismaili Centre in Middle East". 13 December 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2020.

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