Chiarelli, Ibāḍī Community or Communities in Muslim Sicily

Ibāḍī Community or Communities in Muslim Sicily

Leonard C. Chiarelli (University of Utah)

This paper will focus on the origin of what appears to be Ibāḍī communities in Sicily from the 4th/9th to the 6th/12th century. This paper will describe the history of the Ibāḍīyah during the period of Muslim rule, especially the possible origins of these communities during and after the Muslim conquest. After the initial invasion, a steady stream of immigrants fled the famines, civil wars and religious strife that afflicted North Africa from the 4th/9th century to the late 6th/12th century. This paper examines the Ibadi Berber tribes that settled on the island and where they were located.

The presence of the Ibāḍīyah can be identified by the names of the Berber tribes that participated in the expedition to conquer Sicily in 212/827 and those that appear to have settled later. The conquest began when the Aghlabid dynasty in Ifriqīyah (the region of modern-day Tunisia and western Tripolitania) launched its expedition at the request of the rebellious Byzantine naval commander Euphemius (d. 214/829). Later, agriculturalists from Ifriqīyah soon followed, and others may have migrated after the fall of the Ibadi Rustumid capital Tahert to the Fatimids in 297/909 and 316/928. The earliest community appears to have settled in the north-west, where the towns of Raḥl al-Maghāghī and Manzil Zammūr were located. Other members of the Ibāḍīyah appear to have settled in the southern part of the island, where the town of Tahertina and the city of Enna (Qaṣr Yannah) are located.

The paper will address the legal questions that one of these communities posed to an Ibāḍī legal scholar in Gerba and the significance to understanding the political, economic and social impact of their presence. Evidence suggests that their community may have lasted until the 7th/13th century.