Legal and Theological Dimensions of Slavery in an Early Ibāḍī Text

Legal and Theological Dimensions of Slavery in an Early Ibāḍī Text

Dr Omar Anchassi, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bern on the SSC-funded Trajectories of Slavery in Islamicate Societies (TraSIS) project.
We recommend that readers explore our other blog contributions which are linked here.


The text translated below, edited by the prolific Abdulrahman al-Salimi, is excerpted from an epistle authored by the Ibāḍī qāḍī Abū ʿAlī Mūsā b. ʿAlī (d. 237/851) on behalf of the Omani Imam al-Muhannā b. Jayfar (r. 226/841-237/851) addressed to Muʿādh b. Ḥarb (d.?).[1] According to al-Salimi, the text “discusses a number of theological and legal questions that were currently preoccupying the people of Oman.”[2] His edition is based on four manuscripts of the text found in various public and private libraries in Oman, all dated to the early 12th/late 17th to early 18th centuries.[3]The excerpt focuses on slavery, though Mūsā b. ʿAlī explores other issues, including the proper division of the spoils of war (referred to interchangeably as ghanīma and fayʾ), the conduct of jihād (including which groups are eligible to pay the jizya or poll-tax and which must either convert or be killed) and the division of Islam into various groups and factions after the Prophet’s death, including the Muḥakkima/Khawārij.[4] For much of the text, as is common in early Ibāḍī literature, the author is keen to distinguish the Ibāḍīs from more extreme groups of Khawārij such as the Azāriqa,[5] who regard it as lawful to enslave other Muslims and seize their property as booty.[6] As regards slavery, the main question in this text is whether it is lawful to purchase slaves of dubious origin, viz., persons seized by Muslim merchants in their travels, sold by their blood-relatives into slavery, stolen or usurped from their legitimate owners, or unlawfully exempted from the payment of the fifth (khums) on the spoils of war.[7] Mūsā b. ʿAlī adopts a cautious approach, deeming that in cases where there are serious causes for doubt about slaves’ origins their purchase is best avoided. On the other hand, he eschews the overly abstemious reluctance to purchase slaves whose origins are not known with certainty; had this approach been correct, he writes, then the Prophet would not have accepted the slave-concubine Māriya al-Qibṭiyya (d. 13/637) as a gift without further enquiry. I have sought in the footnotes to place the legal doctrines mentioned in the text in broader context, as when e.g., Mūsā b. ʿAlī adopts the view that cavalrymen are entitled to two shares of the booty (as opposed to one for infantry), a doctrine that was rejected by the overwhelming majority of early Sunnī jurists, who appeal to the conduct of early caliphs in support of their view. I also refer to the modern scholarly literature where I feel it might help illuminate the point in question, and have presented the text’s original pagination in square brackets.

Chapter on Slaves (Bāb al-raqīq)[8]

[151] As for what you have mentioned regarding slaves, [viz.] that the natural state (al-aṣl) of human beings is freedom—slavery being an adventitious condition (al-riqq ḥadath)[9]—and that the Sunna is that they be enslaved as part of the booty (ghanīma), the legal basis of booty being the summons to Islam. If [those summoned to] Islam refuse it, they are fought, and their lives and their property are forfeit. If any such [persons or property] are seized in war, they belong to the booty (fayʾ).[10] Any view opposing this is falsehood (bāṭil). You mentioned that some groups enter non-Muslim territory (bilād al-ʿaduww) as merchants and [152] seize the inhabitants as slaves and cheat them out of their property,[11] removing them from their lands and trafficking in them, just as non-Muslims steal from each other, when God has prohibited theft (al-sariqa), and the inhabitants are free persons (aḥrār) in their lands. I have understood what you have stated, and what concerns you therein. I shall explain it to you, God willing.

As for what you have mentioned regarding the natural state of human beings as freedom, and that the Sunna has been to summon polytheists (ahl al-shirk) to Islam—if they refuse it, they are fought and enslaved and the fifth (khums) is deducted therefrom, the rest becoming lawful to sell: then it is as you have said (fa-dhālika ka-dhālik).[12]This is for non-Arabs (ʿajam) specifically, as Arabs are not to be enslaved: nothing is accepted from the latter but Islam or death and the seizure of their property, nor are their children (dharārī) to be enslaved.[13]

As for what you have mentioned regarding merchants and their purchasing goods from those who have stolen them, and that it is unlawful to possess stolen goods or to purchase them from those who have stolen them: then it is as you have said, assuming the possessor knows this to be the case. Additionally, reports (athar)[14] attest to the general lawfulness of anything purchased from Muslim markets (aswāq ahl al-salā), except what is specifically known to be prohibited, such as items obtained by means of theft, treachery, usurpation or usury; otherwise, they are lawful. Since it is established that it is generally lawful to purchase items from Muslim markets, we hold that the purchase of slaves therefrom is permissible (jāʾiz), unless it is known that they have been stolen or usurped, or that they feature any other element of unlawfulness that renders them unlawful, making their purchase likewise unlawful.

Know that the Sunna has affirmed that if the polytheists wage war upon one another and enslave one another, then their purchase is lawful, according to the jurists. If their blood-relatives deceive each other and sell one another into slavery, or if Muslims take such slaves as booty, or usurp non-Muslim slaves and subsequently sell them, then none of this is permissible.[15] As for slaves who claim that they were thus seized unlawfully prior to their sale, we prefer (mā nuḥibb) that one not purchase them. As for slaves not known to have been obtained by these unlawful means, there is no harm (lā baʾs) in purchasing them. I shall inform you of something which will silence your doubts in this regard: do you see (a-raʾayta) that if a man enters a Muslim market and purchases an item or a slave therein which has been stolen or usurped, and he knows nothing of this and is not subsequently informed of it—is he culpable for that, or not?[16]

[153] Thus, it follows that ignorance of such things is to be overlooked, and people are excused (maʿdhūrūn) until [contrary] information reaches them. If such new information reaches them, they are no longer excused. [The purchase of] slaves is likewise: so, let your heart be at peace if you purchase them from Muslim markets, unless you have knowledge that their sale is unlawful in any of the ways I have mentioned in this letter. There is no might save in God.

It has reached us that certain kings (mulūk)[17] gifted the Prophet—may God’s mercy and peace be upon him—a Coptic slave-concubine (jāriya), with whom he—may God’s mercy and peace be upon him—had intercourse. She bore him two sons, who subsequently died.[18] Had their purchase not been lawful in the manner I have described [viz. without knowledge of their previous condition], then the Prophet—may God’s mercy and peace be upon him—would not have accepted the slave-concubine until he knew exactly how she came to be enslaved, and whether the fifth had been deducted as required: and for you and us both there is a goodly example (uswa ḥasana) in the Prophet [Q. 33:21], may God’s mercy and peace be upon him.

You have mentioned a group of people who accepted you among their ranks, and then questioned you regarding my doctrine on fighting those who differ with us: are they to terminate their fight?[19] And should we fight those who do not fight us, or leave them be? And if we fight them, is their property to be seized as booty?

Know that that which you have asked about—which this people have asked of you—is something which the Ummahas split into factions over, their views diverging and each group claiming that it alone possesses the truth on the matter, to which they have greater claim than their rivals. This [?] pertains to the Muḥakkima specifically, after the people of Nahrawān—may God have mercy on them—and the people of al-Nukhayla.[20] They [the Muḥakkima] are the group who reproached ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib for the appointment of the two arbiters[21] over an affair for which God was the sole arbiter, without delegating anybody else thereto, saying, may He be glorified and exalted, “Fight the group that transgress until they submit to the ordinance of God” (Q. 49:9). ʿAlī turned to this lowly world and was pleased with it, loving kingship, contradicting the Book of God through his actions. Those who responded to God’s call by taking up arms against him were thus rendered safe [from divine punishment], casting him off and taking God for their sole arbiter, despising the [mere] judgement of men.

After the people of Nahrawān, the Khawārij al-Muḥakkima did not cease calling to a single cause (daʿwa) and way (shirʿa). Those who took up arms among them did not disregard the virtues of those who failed to do so and emigrate from them; nor did they denounce the sinful (who opposed them among) the Ahl al-Qibla[22] as polytheists; nor did they treat them like those who did not share their doctrine, and nor did they permit the enslavement of their children and the seizure of their property as booty.[23] How could they permit enslaving them or seizing their property as booty, when they intermarried [154] and inherited from each other? They did not cease to cleave to this way—God have mercy upon them—when God sent al-Mirdās[24]—God have mercy upon him—whose conduct was as I have described to you, until he and his companions were killed—may God be pleased with them. Then Nāfiʿ b. al-Azraq[25]emerged, misguided and misguiding others; he sought to emigrate from others, denouncing all who opposed him from the Ahl al-Qibla as polytheists, permitting the enslavement of their children, the seizing of their property as booty and the shedding of their blood without due cause. They did not excuse anyone from taking up arms, man or woman, free or enslaved. He shunned those who agreed with his doctrine while dawdling in the taking up of arms as polytheists, permitting that they be treated like those who had rejected his doctrine. Truly, he uttered an enormity, and committed a manifest sin, so the Muslims abandoned him, and cleaved to what their forbears (aslāf) and imāms held to: they did not permit what God and His Prophet had made unlawful, nor did they prohibit what God and His Prophet made licit. This is the view of the party of justice (ahl al-ʿadl) on the matter you asked about.

All people are of two kinds: stubborn rejectors (jāḥid munkir mukhadhdhib) and affirming believers (muqirr ʿārif muṣaddiq). Stubborn rejectors are polytheists (ahl al-shirk), including idolators and People of the Book.[26] These are to be summoned to Islam; whoever among them adopts it is accepted [among us] accordingly.[27] Whoever refuses to do so is asked to pay the poll-tax; if they pay the poll-tax humbly out of hand, as God instructs [Q. 9:29], then this is accepted of them, and the sword is raised from them. If they refuse to render the poll-tax, they are fought; if they are defeated, their fighting men are killed and their children are enslaved, and their property is seized as booty for the Muslims. The booty is divided into five portions, four going to the conquering army (with two shares to cavalrymen and one to infantry),[28] and the remaining share is divided into four parts: a share for the Prophet and for [his] relatives, another for orphans, another for the needy, and the final share for wayfarers.[29] Thus is the booty to be divided, following your request in your letter. As for Arab polytheists (ahl al-shirk), either they accept Islam, or they are killed.[30] As for the people of profession [i.e., of faith], knowledge and belief (ahl al-iqrār wa-l-maʿrifa wa-l-taṣdīq), they are of two types: a group who prove truthful in their profession [of faith], and who confirm their beliefs with their actions—such are truly believers, to whom firm allegiance (al-walāya al-thābita) is owed here and hereafter.[31] Another group opposes [us], reneges, and goes astray, dishonouring their agreements, permitting what God has forbidden and forbidding what He has permitted and forsaking the path of the believers [Q. 4:115]. Among them are those who forsake that which they took a covenant with God to uphold, and others who are pleased with the deeds of the dissolute and profess allegiance to them; they profess faith while cleaving to disobedience. Among them are those who judge by other than what God has revealed [Q. 5:44] and cause God’s limits to be neglected (ʿaṭṭala ḥudūd Allāh), undertaking unlawful deeds and adopting this as their religion and summoning others to it. Such are people of our qibla: we permit toward them that which the Qurʾān permits and forbid toward them that which it forbids. God said of such people, “Wavering, neither belonging to one, nor the other” [Q. 4:143]. That is, neither belonging to the category of believers in name or in terms of due reward, nor to the polytheists by name [155] or judgement (al-ism wa-l-ḥukm)[32]: they are despotic rulers and transgressing tyrants. They are our enemies: we abhor them, fight them and do not leave them at peace; [we] forsake and disavow them, and permit taking up the sword (al-khurūj) against them. They are rebels, so we fight them until they submit to the ordinance of God [Q. 49:9]. We do not see it as proper to neglect rising up against them unless we are preoccupied with another enemy. We do not commence fighting them until we summon them to return to the truth, to renounce falsehood and tyranny and to return to justice. If they accept [our summons] and return to the truth, we accept them accordingly. If they reject [it], we invite God to judge between us [by fighting them], and He is the best of judges [Q. 95:8]. If we triumph over them, we do not permit enslaving their children or seizing their property as booty; we merely demand our lawful claims (ḥuqūq) from them, for God has neither permitted enslaving their children nor seizing their property as booty. He only permitted that their blood be shed and that they be fought until they return to the ordinance of God. This is our doctrine concerning the people of our qibla; we do not charge a person with the wrongdoings of their associate (walī), nor a neighbour for their neighbour, nor a parent for their child, a child for their parent, nor a free person for a slave, nor a slave for a free person, nor a woman for a man, nor a man for a woman; we do not frighten those who enjoy [rightful] safety, nor are we highwaymen; nor do we ask those in our obedience to transgress against those beyond our power, nor do we recruit those who profess our doctrine, but idly. We only recruit those awakened by decisive evidence.[33]

This is our doctrine and our religion which we offer to God; it is to this that we summon those who oppose us, seeking no alternative; nor do we seek change therefrom. We have manifest proof and clear arguments for this from the Book [i.e., the Qurʾān] which it is not possible to elaborate in the present letter, which has already become lengthy; nor are all words suited to being committed to writing. In subsequent meetings, there is clarity for the blind. In God is our facility and rightful guidance; we ask Him to seal our lives with His forgiveness and goodly pleasure, and that He bless our knowledge, and that He bring us closer to Him with every increase in knowledge: for our Lord is over all things powerful.

[1] Al-Salimi transliterates the names as Muhannāʾ and Maʿādh, but I prefer Muhannā and Muʿādh. For the vocalisation Muhannā, see e.g., Adam R. Gaiser, Muslims, Scholars, Soldiers: The Origin and Elaboration of the Ibāḍī Imāmate Traditions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 100, 108; Abdulrahman al-Salimi, Ibāḍism East of Mesopotamia: Early Islamic Iran, Central Asia and India(Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2016), 88. For the vocalisation Muʿādh, see ibid., 88. I thank Ashraf Hassan for discussing this point with me.

[2] Abdulrahman al-Salimi, “Introduction,” in Ibadi Texts in Oman from the 3rd/9th Century, ed. Abdulrahman al-Salimi (Leiden: Brill, 2022), 1-30 (at 10).

[3] Ibid., 28.

[4] The Muḥakkima are the group who rebelled against the Caliph ʿAlī (r. 35/656-40/661), refusing to accept his submission to arbitration (taḥkīm) in his struggle against Muʿāwiya (r. 41/661-60/680), insisting that “God had made His intentions clear regarding the likes of Muʿāwiya: he should be fought, using the terminology of Q 49:9, until he “returned to the ordinance (amr) of God”.” The name Muḥakkima derives from their slogan, “no judgement but God’s” (lā ḥukm illā li-llāh). See Adam R. Gaiser, “Khārijīs,” Encyclopaedia of Islam: THREE, accessed 12/12/2022 <>. See also idem, Shurāt Legends, Ibāḍī Identities: Martyrdom, Asceticism, and the Making of an Early Islamic Community (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2016), 126-27. On the origins of Ibāḍism and its relationship to the early Muḥakkima, see also John C. Wilkinson, Ibâḍism: Origins and Early Development in Oman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 122-26.

[5] “The Azāriqa…required that all believers perform hijra to the Azraqī camp and wage war on the sect’s opponents. The practice of taqiyya was emphatically rejected; armchair sympathizers who abstained from hijra (i.e., the so-called qaʿada, or “sitters”) were to be regarded as outright unbelievers, from whom one must dissociate in precisely the way one should dissociate from all opponents: intermarriage was forbidden, relationships of inheritance were severed, and property held in trust was liable to appropriation.” See Keith Lewinstein, “Azāriqa,” Encyclopaedia of Islam: THREE, accessed 13/12/2022 <>.

[6] The refusal to enslave other Muslims and seize their property as booty is one of the key points distinguishing Ibāḍīs from more exclusivist groups among the Khawārij. See for example Sālim b. Dhakwān (fl. 2nd/8th C.), The Epistle of Sālim b. Dhakwān, ed. and trans. Patricia Crone and Fritz Zimmermann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 73, 91, 101, 107, 109, 113, 133.

[7] On Ibāḍī involvement in the slave trade (albeit in a non-Omani context), see e.g., E. Savage, “Berbers and Blacks: Ibāḍī Slave Traffic in Eighth-Century North Africa,” The Journal of African History 33 (1992), 351-68; J.H. van Riel, “The Ibāḍī Traders of Bilād al-Sūdān,” MA dissertation, American University of Cairo (2012), 41-42, 54; Adam Gaiser, “Slaves and Silver across the Strait of Gibraltar: Politics and Trade between Umayyad Iberia and Khārijite North Africa,” Medieval Encounters 19 (2013), 41-70.

[8] Abū ʿAlī Mūsā b. ʿAlī, “Epistle of Imam al-Muhannāʾ b. Jayfar to Maʿādh b. Ḥarb,” in Ibadi Texts, 138-56 (at 151-55).

[9] The notion that the ordinary state of humans is freedom is widely attested in Islamic legal texts. On this point, see Jonathan A. C. Brown, Slavery and Islam (Oxford: Oneworld, 2020), 107-8. The text translated here considerably predates the earliest explicit formulation of the principle (viz. al-aṣl huwa al-ḥurriya) that Brown was able to find, in the work of the Ḥanafī jurist al-Jaṣṣāṣ (d. 370/981): see ibid., 423 fn. 81. This principle became an important legal maxim in questions such as the status of foundlings (sing. laqīṭ). The early Sunnī jurist Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318/930) writes, in this vein, that “God…created Adam and secured him against being owned by others, and similarly his wife Eve: and all are descended from them. Thus, all the children of Adam are free, save those of the children of the polytheists (awlād al-mushrikīn) who fall into captivity…” See Ibn al-Mundhir, Kitāb al-Awsaṭ min al-sunan wa-l-ijmāʿ wa-l-ikhtilāf, ed. Khālid Ibrāhīm al-Sayyid et al., 15 vols. (al-Fayyūm: Dār al-Falāḥ, 1431/2010), 11:428. See also the discussion in Irene Schneider, “Freedom and Slavery in Early Islamic Time (1st/7th and 2nd/8th Centuries),” al-Qanṭara 28 (2007), 353-82 (at 355-57).

[10] The terms ghanīma and fayʾ are used interchangeably in this text, but many jurists distinguished between them. Ghanīma was understood by some as property seized by force and fayʾ (referred to in Q. 59:7) as that taken by treaty; alternatively, they referred to moveable and landed property, respectively. See Roy Mottahedeh, “Qurʾānic commentary on the verse of khums (al-Anfāl VIII:41),” in Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: The Living Links to the Prophet, ed. Morimoto Kazuo (Oxford: Routledge, 2012), 37-48 (at 37). See also the discussion in al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923), Jāmiʿ al-bayān ʿan taʾwīl ayy al-Qurʾān, ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī et al., 26 vols. (Cairo: Hijr, 1322/2001), 11:184-87. The Ibāḍī Hūd b. Muḥakkam (d. 280/893 or 290/903) does not distinguish the terms, though he mentions the unusual view of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d. 110/728) that fayʾ refers to the poll-tax, specifically: see Hūd b. Muḥakkam, Tafsīr Kitāb Allāh al-ʿAzīz, ed. Balḥāj b. Saʿīd Sharīfī, 4 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 1990), 2:90-94; 4:321-23.

[11] Here I have adopted a variant reading noted by al-Salimi in his edition (fn. 138), choosing “enslave them” (yastariqqūnahim) in preference to “steal from them” (yasruqūnahum), as this makes more sense in the context, and given the later discussion of the lawfulness of purchasing slaves obtained by dubious means.

[12] On the longstanding controversy on doubts about the deduction of the fifth and the lawfulness of the purchase of slaves, see Brown, Slavery and Islam, 113-14.

[13] A minority of early jurists prohibited the enslavement of Arabs. See the discussion in Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), Majmūʿat al-fatāwā, ed. ʿĀmir al-Jazzār and Anwar al-Bāz, 37 vols. (al-Manṣūra: Dār al-Wafāʾ, 1418/1997), 31:219-20 (where this view is attributed to the Caliph ʿUmar and a number of early jurists). For a discussion of the relevant reports, see Abū Bakr al-Bayhaqī (d. 458/1066), al-Sunan al-kubrā, ed. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Qādir ʿAṭā, 11 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1424/2003), 9:125-26.

[14] One gets the sense that references to athar and Sunna in this text are not concerned with Prophetic ḥadīth as such, but earlier notions of communal norms, Schacht’s “living tradition.” For a discussion of the “madhhabization” of Ibāḍism and its late adoption of the early Sunnī commitment to the probativeness of ḥadīth reports, see Wilkinson, Ibâḍism: Origins and Early Development, 377-78, 413-17. See also idem, Ibāḍī Ḥadīth: An Essay on Normalization,” Der Islam 62 (1985), 231-59; Adam Gaiser, ““Ballaghanā ʿan an-Nabī: Early Ibāḍī Understandings of Sunna and SiyarĀthār and Nasab,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 83 (2020), 437-48.

[15] On the juristic debate on purchasing non-Muslims enslaved by their blood-relatives in the Dār al-Ḥarb, see Brown, Slavery and Islam, 463 fn. 52.

[16] A rhetorical question: clearly, he is not culpable in such a case.

[17] In early sources such as Ibn Saʿd (d. 230/845) and al-Ṭabarī, it is the Muqawqis of Egypt who gifts Māriya al-Qibṭiyya to the Prophet in the year 6 or 7/627-9. See Frants Buhl, “Māriya,” Encyclopaedia of Islam: Second Edition, accessed 12/12/2022 <>. In the Kitāb al-Maqālāt attributed to Abū ʿAlī al-Jubbāʾī (d. 303/915-6), the Muqawqis is similarly referred to as a “king” (malik) and is conflated with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, reportedly meeting with Abū Sufyān (d. between 31/651 and 33/653) to ask him about the Prophet and his mission (in this account, it is the visit of Abū Sufyān that occasions the gift of Māriya to the Prophet). See al-Jubbāʾī, Kitāb al-Maqālāt, ed. Özkan Şimşek, A. İskender Sarıca, and Yusuf Arıkaner (Istanbul: Endülüs, 2020), 330-31.

[18] Early sources mention only one son born to Māriya, Ibrāhīm (d. 10/632).

[19] An yaqḍū mā qātalū ʿalayhi: I thank Ashraf Hassan for his help with understanding this phrase.

[20] At Nahrawān (38/658), ʿAlī crushed the Muḥakkima. Al-Nukhayla was the site of a rising against Muʿāwiya in 41/661 by Muḥakkima deserters from Nahrawān who sought to atone for their previous flight. As in Nahrawān, the rebels were slaughtered.

[21] Namely, ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ (d. c. 42/663) and Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī (d. c. 42/662-3). The arbitration took place at Ṣiffīn in 37/657.

[22] In Ibāḍī parlance, the Ahl al-Qibla includes non-Ibāḍī Muslims who are guilty of kufr al-niʿma, but not shirk.

[23] This passage is meant to condemn the Azāriqa and other groups among the Khawārij for their extremism.

[24] Abū Bilāl Mirdās b. Udayya (d. 61/680-1), “a hero of the early shurāt and of later Khārijite groups (as well as the Ibāḍiyya) …from Basra, Abū Bilāl was said to have rebelled with forty of his followers…[his] revolt became the focal point for shārī and later Khārijite identities.” Adam R. Gaiser, Sectarianism in Islam: The Umma Divided (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), 64-65. See also Giorgio Levi Della Vida, “Mirdās b. Udayya,” Encyclopaedia of Islam: Second Edition, accessed 13/12/2022 <>.

[25] Nāfiʿ b. al-Azraq (d. 65/685), eponym of the Azāriqa faction of the Khawārij, killed in action against Zubayrid forces. See Keith Lewinstein, “Azāriqa,” Encyclopaedia of Islam: THREE.

[26] Both idolators (ʿabadat al-awthān) and People of the Book are guilty of polytheism, as in Q. 9:30-31. 

[27] The author thus accepts the view (subject to disagreement among the jurists) that non-Muslims other than Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians are eligible to pay the poll-tax. See Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 77-80.

[28] Early jurists disagreed on whether cavalrymen were entitled to two or three shares of the booty, as opposed to the single share of infantrymen. The latter was the view of the overwhelming majority of Sunnī jurists; the former was only supported by Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 150/767). On this point, Ibn al-Mundhir writes, “We know of nobody who has disagreed with this [latter] view save al-Nuʿmān, who has thereby opposed the Sunna and how it has been understood by scholars past and present…[even] his disciples (aṣḥāb) disagreed with him; his view is unique to him and has been forsaken by everybody else (munfaridan mahjūran)”. See Ibn al-Mundhir, al-Ishrāf ʿalā madhāhib al-ʿulamāʾ, ed. Ṣaghīr Aḥmad al-Anṣārī, 10 vols. (Ras Al Khaimah: Maktabat Makka al-Thaqāfiyya, 1425/2004), 4:99-100. See also al-Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf (d. 182/798) al-Radd ʿalā Siyar al-Awzāʿī, ed. Abū l-Wafāʾ al-Afghānī (Hyderabad: Lajnat Iḥyāʾ al-Maʿārif al-Nuʿmāniyya, 1357/1938), 17-21.

[29] On the various views on division of the booty and the fifth, in particular, see Mottahedeh, “Qurʾānic commentary,” 38-42; al-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, 11:187-200.

[30] Jurists disagreed on whether Arab pagans were eligible to pay the poll-tax or whether they must convert or be killed. See Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion, 76-78. See also Wāʾil b. Ayyūb al-Ḥaḍramī (d. c. 190/806), Nasab al-Islām: Sīrat al-Imām Abī Ayyūb Wāʾil b. Ayyūb al-Ḥaḍramī, ed. ʿĀyida bt. Muḥammad al-Fihriyya (Muscat: Dhākirat ʿUmān, 1438/2018), 82-83 (where polytheist, i.e., pagan Arabs must convert or be killed).

[31] On walāya and barāʾa (disavowal) in early Ibāḍī fiqh, see Ersilia Francesca, “Ibāḍī Law and Jurisprudence,” The Muslim World 105 (2015), 209-23 (at 211-12).

[32] That is, al-asmāʾ wa-l-aḥkām, the theological category concerned with the evaluation of persons and their status as believers (or otherwise). See Naser Gozashteh, trans. Suheyl Umar, “al-Asmāʾ wa al-aḥkām,” Encyclopaedia Islamica, accessed 12/12/2022 <>.

[33] Wa-lā nunabbih nāʾiman aqarra bi-l-ʿadl ʿan marqadihi illā mustathāran bi-bayyinat ʿadl: lit., “nor do we warn the sleeping who confess [our doctrine of] justice [lazily] from their beds; [we] only [warn] those who [respond] enthusiastically to the testimony of a just witness.” I wish to thank Ovamir Anjum for his help with understanding this phrase.

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