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An exceptionally beautiful and hospitable country, Oman is a researchers delight, with archives and manuscripts, archaeological and ethno-archaeological attractions ranging from pre-Islamic Arabia to the present, and modern multi-tribal communities. Located on the southern edge of the Persian Gulf, where the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet and control the entrance to the Persian Gulf, it has stood at a commercial and cultural crossroads for centuries. But with commercial sea routes also to Africa and Asia, it is simultaneously a contemporary state that combines modernity and tradition, religion and multiculturalism -- a place where the present meets the past without being bound by it. It is, thus, no accident that Ibadis have played and continue to play an important role in the history of Muslim theology and its political theory, a role that only in recent years has begun to be acknowledged in international academic circles. This volume presents the proceedings of the first international conference dedicated to Ibadism and the Sultanate of Oman, which was held at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in November 2009. The goal of the conference was to introduce Ibadism and Ibadi Studies to the worldwide research community and, indeed, it has served as the springboard for other conferences and the founding of academic groups dedicated to Ibadism and the Sultanate of Oman. In the first part of this volume, we are guided through Ibadi history, theology, and jurisprudence while the second part opens the reader to a broad vista on the dialectics between religion, society, and politics within contemporary Ibadi communities and especially that of Oman. By introducing Ibadism to the broader academic community, we hope to contribute to the mutual understanding and rapprochement of peoples, cultures, and religions. In this regard, each paper in the present volume has lasting value.
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