Q&A with Mr. Al Muatasim b. Said Al Maawali


September 4 2023

Mr. Al Muatasim b. Said Al Maawali, will be delivering the Society's September 2023 lecture on The Historical Development of the Ibāḍī School of Islam in Oman. In this quick introductory Q&A he tells us a bit more about his background, topic and other interests.

Q: Please can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you came to specialise in your area of expertise? 

I am from the Sultanate of Oman and work as a religious supervisor at Sultan Qaboos University. I came to specialise in my area of Islamic studies in general and Ibāḍism in particular due to the fact that I was raised in a conservative Ibāḍī community. In my secondary school, I studied at Islamic Sciences Institute. Subsequently, I specialised more in the field of Islamic studies by studying this area in both my undergraduate and master levels at Sultan Qaboos University and the University of Birmingham respectively. This motivated me to further my education in this field by pursuing my PhD study at the University of Birmingham where I am currently based.

Q. You will be giving a lecture on The Historical Development of the Ibāḍī School of Islam in Oman at The Society on September 20th. Briefly, why is Ibāḍism so unique compared with other branches of Islam, and so important to Oman’s national identity?

I believe that paying special attention to Ibāḍism and Ibāḍī studies is very important for a number of reasons; first, the Ibāḍī school is deemed by many to be the first legal school in Islam owing to the fact that its distinct principles were laid down by the prominent scholar Jābir b. Zayd who died in 93 AH/ 712 CE, thus predating all founders of major Islamic legal schools. Second, the subject of Ibāḍism and Ibāḍī studies have historically been under-studied in both eastern and western academies. As for the question of the importance of Ibāḍism to Oman’s national identity, this is due to a number of reasons; firstly, the first founding theorist of the School, Jābir b. Zayd, was of Omani origin. He was born in Oman and towards the end of his life, he was exiled back to his home country, Oman. Secondly, it is claimed that most Omanis follow the Ibāḍī interpretation of Islam. Hence, establishing its significance to the Omani national identity.  

Q. You are also very fascinated by the subject of Islamic Banking (you have authored a number of volumes on the subject). What are the core principles and how do they differ from the non-Islamic banking system?

The Islamic banking system’s core principle is the prohibition of interest or usury. In Islam, interest is considered one of the major sins. Thus, it is inconceivable for an Islamic bank to offer interest-bearing modes of finance. Islam states that lending money to others has to always remain an act of kindness. Hence, the prohibition of charging any interest. Additionally, the religion of Islam prohibits any transaction that has ambiguous elements, as uncertainty renders the transactions null and void. Thus, the newly emerging Islamic banks had to invent creative solutions and financing products by which they can finance their clients while at the same time avoid charging interest and what are considered in Islamic as unethical transactions.

Bookings now open: To attend Mr. Al Muatasim's lecture, please book online here.

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