The Ibadi movement, Ibadism or Ibāḍiyya, also known as the Ibadis (Arabic: الإباضية‎, al-Ibāḍiyyah), is a school of Islam dominant in Oman.[1] It is also found in parts of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and East Africa. The movement is said to have been founded around the year 650 CE or about 20 years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, predating both the Sunni and Shia denominations.[2] Modern historians trace back the origins of the denomination to a moderate current of the Khawarij movement;[3][4][5]:3 contemporary Ibāḍīs strongly object to being classified as Kharijites, although they recognize that their movement originated with the Kharijite secession of 657 CE.[5]:3


The school derives its name from ʿAbdu l-Lāh ibn Ibāḍ of the Banu Tamim.[6] Ibn Ibad was responsible for breaking off from the wider Kharijite movement roughly around the time that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the fifth Umayyad ruler, took power.[5]:11 However, the true founder was Jābir ibn Zayd of Nizwa, Oman.[5]:12[7] Initially, Ibadi theology developed in Basra, Iraq.[8] The Ibadis opposed the rule of the third caliph in Islam, Uthman ibn Affan, but unlike the more extreme Kharijites the Ibadis rejected the murder of Uthman as well as the Kharijite belief that all Muslims holding differing viewpoints were infidels.[9] The Ibadis were among the more moderate groups opposed to the fourth caliph, Ali, and wanted to return Islam to its form prior to the conflict between Ali and Muawiyah I.[10][11]

Due to their opposition to the Umayyad Caliphate, the Ibadis attempted an armed insurrection starting in the Hijaz region in the 740s. Caliph Marwan II led a 4,000 strong army and routed the Ibadis first in Mecca, then in Sana'a in Yemen, and finally surrounded them in Shibam in western Hadhramaut.[9] Problems back in their heartland of Syria forced the Umayyads to sign a peace accord with the Ibadis, and the sect was allowed to retain a community in Shibam for the next four centuries while still paying taxes to Ibadi authorities in Oman.[9] For a period after Marwan II's death, Jabir ibn Zayd maintained a friendship with Umayyad general Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who supported the Ibadis as a counterbalance to more extreme Kharijites. Ibn Zayd ordered the assassination of one of Al-Hajjaj's spies, however, and in reaction many Ibadis were imprisoned or exiled to Oman.[5]:12

It was during the 8th century that the Ibadis established an imamate in the inner region of Oman. The position was an elected one, as opposed to Sunni and Shi'a dynasties where rule was inherited.[2][12] These imams exerted political, spiritual and military functions.[13]

By the year 900, Ibadism had spread to Sind, Khorosan, Hadhramaut, Dhofar, Oman proper, Muscat, the Nafusa Mountains, and Qeshm; by 1200, the sect was present in Al-Andalus, Sicily, M'zab (the Algerian Sahara), and the western part of the Sahel region as well.[7] The last Ibadis of Shibam were expelled by the Sulayhid dynasty in the 12th century. In the 14th century, historian Ibn Khaldun made reference to vestiges of Ibadi influence in Hadhramaut, though the sect no longer exists in the region today.[14]

Relations with other communities

Despite predating all Sunni and Shia schools by several decades, the Ibadis and their beliefs remain largely a mystery to outsiders, both non-Muslims and even other Muslims.[5]:3 Ibadis have claimed, with justification, that while they read the works of both Sunnis and Shias, even the learned scholars of those two sects never read Ibadi works and often repeat myths and false information when they address the topic of Ibadism without performing proper research.[5]:4 The isolated nature of Oman granted the Ibadi denomination, secretive by nature, the perfect environment to develop in isolation from the Islamic mainstream.[6] Ibadis were cut off even from the Kharijite sect because of Ibn Ibaḍ's criticism of their excesses and his rejection of their more extreme beliefs.[6] The spread of Ibadism in Oman essentially represents the triumph of theology over tribal feudalism and conflict.[8]

Ibadis have been referred to as tolerant Puritans or as political quietists because of their preference to solve differences through dignity and reason rather than with confrontation,[2][10] as well as their tolerance for practising Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews sharing their communities. Muscat, Oman presently has Churches, Temples, and Gurudwaras.[10]

Ibadism's movement from Hijaz to Iraq and then further out made Ibadi historian al-Salimi once write that Ibadism is a bird whose egg was laid in Medina, hatched in Basra and flew to Oman.[7]


Ibadis state, with reason, that their school predates that of mainstream Islamic schools, and Ibadism is thus considered to be an early and highly orthodox interpretation of Islam.[2]

Doctrinal differences with other denominations

Ibāḍīs have several doctrinal differences with other denominations of Islam, chief among them:

  • God will not show himself to Muslims on the Day of Judgment, a belief shared with Shias. Sunnis believe that Muslims will see God on the Day of Judgment.[15]
  • The Quran was created by God at a certain point in time. This belief is shared with the Mutazila,[16] whereas Sunnīs hold the Quran to be co-eternal with God, as exemplified by the suffering of Ahmad ibn Hanbal during the miḥnah.[17]
  • Like the Mutazila and Shias, they interpret anthropomorphic references to God in the Qur'an symbolically rather than literally.[16]
  • Their views on predestination are like the Ashari Sunnis (i.e. occasionalism).[16]
  • It is unnecessary to have one leader for the entire Muslim world, and if no single leader is fit for the job, Muslim communities can rule themselves.[9][11] That is different from both the Sunni belief of Caliphate and the Shia belief of Imamah.[10][18][19]
  • It is not necessary for the ruler of the Muslims to be descended from the Quraysh tribe, which was the tribe of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.[10][11] That is different from Shias[5]:7
  • They believe it is acceptable to conceal one's beliefs under certain circumstances (kitman), analogous to the Shia taqiyya.[16]

Views on Islamic history and caliphate

Ibadis agree with Sunnis, regarding Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab as rightly-guided caliphs.[5]:7[11] They regard the first half of Uthman ibn Affan's rule as righteous and the second half as corrupt and affected by both nepotism and heresy.[5]:7 They approve of the first part of Ali's caliphate and (like Shī'a) disapprove of Aisha's rebellion and Muawiyah I's revolt. However, they regard Ali's acceptance of arbitration at the Battle of Ṣiffīn as rendering him unfit for leadership, and condemn him for killing the Khawarij of an-Nahr in the Battle of Nahrawan. Modern Ibadi theologians defend the early Kharijite opposition to Uthman, Ali and Muawiyah.[5]:10

Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta observed Ibadis praying Jumu'ah in Oman and said they prayed in the same manner as Zuhr prayer. He noticed that they invoked God's mercy on Abu Bakr and Umar but not Uthman and Ali.[2]

In their belief, the next legitimate caliph was Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, the leader of the Kharijites who turned against Ali for his acceptance of arbitration with Muawiyah.[5]:10 All Caliphs from Mu'āwīyah onward are considered tyrants except Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, on whom opinions differ. Numerous Ibāḍī leaders are recognized as true imams, including Abdullah ibn Yahya al-Kindi of South Arabia and the imams of the Rustamid dynasty in North Africa. Traditionally, conservative Omani Ibadism rejected monarchy and hereditary rule,[20] and Ibadhi leaders were elected.[12]

Despite bitter religious disputes elsewhere, the Ibadis are realists and believe that reason and political expediency must temper the ideal Islamic state.[2]

View of hadith

Ibadis accept as authentic far fewer hadith than do Sunnis. Several Ibadi founding figures were noted for their hadith research, and Jabir ibn Zayd is accepted as a reliable narrator even by Sunni scholars as well as by Ibadis. After the death of Ibn Ibad, Ibn Zayd led the Ibadis and withdrew to Oman, where his hadith, along with those of other early Ibadis formed the corpus of their interpretation of Islamic law.[11]

View of theology

The development of Ibadi theology happened thanks to the works of scholars and imams of the community, whose histories, lives, and personalities are part of the Islamic history.[21] Ibāḍī theology can be understood on the basis of their works Ibn Ibāḍ, Jābir bin Zayd, Abū ‘Ubaida, Rabī‘ b. Ḥabīb and Abū Sufyān among others. Basra is the foundation of the Ibāḍī community.[22] Various Ibāḍī communities that were established in southern Arabia, with bases in Oman, North Africa, and East Africa mainly.[22]  

View of jurisprudence

The fiqh or jurisprudence of Ibadis is relatively simple. Absolute authority is given to the Qur'an and hadith; new innovations accepted on the basis of qiyas, or analogical reasoning, were rejected as bid‘ah by the Ibadis. That differs from the majority of Sunnis[23] (except minority Zahiri and early Hanbali schools of Sunnism[24][25][26]) but agrees with Shias.[27]


Islam by country
Ibadi-majority countries are coloured in black.
Ibadi people living in the M'zab valley in Algeria

Ibadis make up a majority (roughly 75%) of the population in Oman.[28] There are roughly 2.72 million Ibadis worldwide, of which 250,000 live outside Oman.[29] As a result, Oman is the only country in the Muslim world with an Ibadi-majority population.[28]

Historically, the early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi,[30] and refugees from its capital, Tiaret, founded the North African Ibadi communities, which still exist in M'zab.[31] The Mozabites, a Berber ethnic group in M'zab, are Ibadis.[32][33][34] Ibadis are also found in East Africa (particularly Zanzibar), the Nafusa Mountains of Libya, and Djerba Island in Tunisia.

Notable Ibadis



See also


  1. ^ - and it's getting worse|website=The Independent|first=Paul|last=Vallely|date=19 February 2014}}
  2. ^ a b c d e f Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 201. Jubilee edition. Kensington: Stacey International, 1995. ISBN 0905743636
  3. ^ John L. Esposito, ed. (2014). "Ibadis". The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Lewicki, T. (2012). "al-Ibāḍiyya". In P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; W.P. Heinrichs (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0307.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hoffman, Valerie Jon (2012). The Essentials of Ibadi Islam. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815650843.
  6. ^ a b c Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States in a Tribal Society: Oman Under Saʻid Bin Taymur, 1932-1970, pg. 5. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2006. ISBN 9781845190804
  7. ^ a b c Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 199.
  8. ^ a b Joseph A. Kechichian, Oman and the World: The Emergence of an Independent Foreign Policy, pg. 24. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 1995. ISBN 9780833023322
  9. ^ a b c d Daniel McLaughlin, Yemen and: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 203. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2007. ISBN 9781841622125
  10. ^ a b c d e Diana Darke, Oman: The Bradt Travel Guide, pg. 27. Guilford: Brandt Travel Guides, 2010. ISBN 9781841623320
  11. ^ a b c d e Donald Hawley, Oman, pg. 200.
  12. ^ a b J. R. C. Carter, Tribes in Oman, pg. 103. London: Peninsular Publishers, 1982. ISBN 0907151027
  13. ^ A Country Study: Oman, chapter 6 Oman – Government and Politics, section: Historical Patterns of Governance. US Library of Congress, 1993. Retrieved 2006-10-28
  14. ^ Daniel McLaughlin, Yemen, pg. 204.
  15. ^ Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari (August 23, 2005). "Seeing God in dreams, waking, and the afterlife". Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c d Juan Eduardo Campo (1 Jan 2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. p. 323. ISBN 9781438126968.
  17. ^ Brill, E.J., ed. (1965–1986). The Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. 7. pp. 2–4.
  18. ^ Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States, pg. 22.
  19. ^ Joseph A. Kechichian, Oman and the World, pg. 25.
  20. ^ Hasan M. Al-Naboodah, "Banu Nabhan in the Omani Sources." Taken from New Arabian Studies, vol. 4, pg. 186. Eds. J. R. Smart, G. Rex Smith and B. R. Pridham. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997. ISBN 9780859895521
  21. ^ Madelung, Wilferd (2014). "Early Ibāḍī Theology". In Schmidtke, Sabine (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. 1. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 242–252. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199696703.013.004.
  22. ^ a b Ziaka, Angeliki (2014). "Introduction". In Ziaka, Angeliki (ed.). On Ibadism. Germany: Georg Olms Verlag AG. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-487-14882-3.
  23. ^ Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States, pg. 21.
  24. ^ Camilla Adang, This Day I have Perfected Your Religion For You: A Zahiri Conception of Religious Authority, pg. 15. Taken from Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies. Ed. Gudrun Krämer and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2006. ISBN 9789004149496
  25. ^ Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th-10th Centuries C.E., pg. 185. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.
  26. ^ Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840-1940: A Sourcebook, pg. 281. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  27. ^ Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, pg. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  28. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  29. ^ Robert Brenton Betts (2013-07-31). The Sunni-Shi'a Divide: Islam's Internal Divisions and Their Global Consequences. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9781612345222. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  30. ^ The Rustamid state of Tāhart. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 10 April 2014.
  31. ^ "Ghardaïa, Algeria". Organization of World Heritage Sites. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  32. ^ "Tumzabt".
  33. ^ Ham, Anthony; Luckham, Nana; Sattin, Anthony (2007). Algeria. Lonely Planet. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-74179-099-3.
  34. ^ Cyril Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, pg. 39. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2008.

Further reading

  • Pessah Shinar, Modern Islam in the Maghrib, Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 2004. A collection of papers (some previously unpublished) dealing with Islam in the Maghreb, practices, and beliefs.

External links

Abd-Allah ibn Ibadh

Abdullāh ibn 'Ibādh al-Tamimi (Arabic: عبدالله بن اباض التميمي‎; d. 708) was a Tabi'i, a jurist and one of the best students of Ibn Abbas, who narrated hadiths from Aisha and a large number of the Sahaba who witnessed the Battle of Badr. He and Jābir ibn Zayd were imams in the tafsir and sciences of Hadith.

G. R. Hawting

Gerald R. Hawting (born 1944) is a British historian and Islamicist.

George Percy Badger

George Percy Badger (1815–1888) was an English Anglican missionary, and a scholar of oriental studies. He is mainly known for his doctrinal and historical studies about the Church of the East.

Hunayn ibn Ishaq

Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi (also Hunain or Hunein) ( Arabic: أبو زيد حنين بن إسحاق العبادي‎; ʾAbū Zayd Ḥunayn ibn ʾIsḥāq al-ʿIbādī, Latin: Iohannitius, Syriac: ܚܢܝܢ ܒܪ ܐܝܣܚܩ‎) (809 – 873) was an influential Arab Nestorian Christian translator, scholar, physician, and scientist. During the apex of the Islamic Abbasid era, he worked with a group of translators, among whom were Abū 'Uthmān al-Dimashqi, Ibn Mūsā al-Nawbakhti, and Thābit ibn Qurra, to translate books of philosophy and classical Greek and Persian texts into Arabic and Syriac.

Ḥunayn ibn Isḥaq was the most productive translator of Greek medical and scientific treatises in his day. He studied Greek and became known among the Arabs as the "Sheikh of the translators". He is the father of Arab translations. He mastered four languages: Arabic, Syriac, Greek and Persian. His translations did not require corrections; Hunayn’s method was widely followed by later translators. He was originally from al-Hira, the capital of a pre-Islamic cultured Arab kingdom, but he spent his working life in Baghdad, the center of the great ninth-century Greek-into-Arabic/Syriac translation movement. His fame went far beyond his own community.

Islam in Oman

Virtually all Omanis profess Islam; three quarters of them follow the Ibadi School of Abd-Allah ibn Ibadh. Ibadism represents the only remaining expression of Kharijism, which developed from 657 as a result of one of the first schisms within Islam.

Jābir ibn Zayd

Abu al-Sha'tha Jābir ibn Zayd al-Zahrani al-Azdi was a Muslim theologian and one of the founding figures of the Ibadis, the third major denomination of Islam. He was from the Tabi‘un, or second generation of Islam, and took leadership of the denomination after the death of Abd-Allah ibn Ibadh.

List of hadith collections

The following is a list of Hadīth collections, which are sources that contain the sayings, acts or tacit approvals, validly or invalidly, ascribed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and collected by Muhaddiths.

Martin Hinds

Martin Hinds (10 April 1941 in Penarth, Wales – 1 December 1988) was a scholar of the Middle East and historiographer of early Islam.

Michael Cook (historian)

Michael Allan Cook FBA (born in 1940) is a British historian and scholar of Islamic history.


Muhakkima (Arabic: محكمة‎) and al-Haruriyya (Arabic: الحرورية‎) refer to the Muslims who rejected arbitration between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mu'awiya at the Battle of Siffin in 657 CE. The name Muḥakkima derives from their slogan la hukma illa li-llah, meaning "judgment (hukm) belongs to God alone". The name al-Haruriyya refers to their withdrawal from Ali's army to the village of Harura' near Kufa. This episode marked the start of the Kharijite movement, and the term muḥakkima is often also applied by extension to later Kharijites.

In recent times, some adherents of Ibadism, which is commonly identified as a moderate offshoot of the Kharijite movement, have argued that the precursors of both Ibadism and extremist Kharijite sects should be properly called Muḥakkima and al-Haruriyya rather than Kharijites.

Muscat and Oman

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman (Arabic: سلطنة مسقط وعمان‎ Salṭanat Masqaṭ wa-‘Umān) was a thalassocratic nation that encompassed the present-day Sultanate of Oman and parts of present-day United Arab Emirates and Gwadar, Pakistan. The country is not to be confused with Trucial states, which were sheikhdoms under British protection since 1820.

Nafusa Mountains

The Nafusa Mountains (Berber: Adrar n Infusen (Nafusa Mountain), Arabic: [جبل نفوسة‎ (Western mountain)) are a mountain range in the western Tripolitania region of northwestern Libya. It also includes their regions around the escarpment formed where the northern end of the Tripolitanian Plateau meets the Mediterranean coastal plain or the Jefara.


The Nukkari (also Nakkari or Nakkariyah; in Latin sources named Canarii) are one of the main branches of the North African Ibadi, founded in 784 by Abu Qudama Yazid ibn Fandin al-Ifrani. Led by Abu Yazid al-Nukkari, they revolted against the ruling Fatimids in Ifriqiya (today's Tunisia and eastern Algeria), conquering Kairouan in 944 and laying siege to Sousse, but were ultimately defeated in 947. Remnants of the Nukkari are thought to have survived on the island of Djerba.

Patricia Crone

Patricia Crone (March 28, 1945 – July 11, 2015) was a Danish-American author, Orientalist, and historian specializing in early Islamic history. Crone was a member of the Revisionist school of Islamic studies and questioned the historicity of the Islamic traditions about the beginnings of Islam.

Rustamid dynasty

The Rustamid dynasty (or Rustumids, Rostemids) was a ruling house of Ibāḍī imāms of Persian descent centered in Algeria. The dynasty governed as a Muslim theocracy for a century and a half from its capital Tiaret (in modern Algeria) until the Ismaili Fatimid Caliphate destroyed it. Their realm extended mostly to current central Algeria, but also Libya.

Saif bin Sultan

Saif bin Sultan was the fourth of the Yaruba dynasty Imams of Oman, a member of the Ibadi sect. He ruled from 1692 to 1711. His navy achieved important victories over the Portuguese in East Africa, where Omani presence became firmly established on the coast.


The Sufris (Arabic: الصفرية‎ aṣ-Ṣufriyya) were Khariji Muslims in the seventh and eighth centuries. They established the Midrarid state at Sijilmassa, now in Morocco.

In Tlemcen, Algeria, the Banu Ifran were Sufri Berbers who opposed rule by the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates, most notably under resistance movements led by Abu Qurra (8th century) and Abu Yazid.The Khawarij were divided into separate groups such as the Sufri, Azariqa, Bayhasiyya, Ajardi, Najdat, and Ibadi. Only the Ibadi continue to exist today.

Tartib al-Musnad

Tartib al-Musnad is the principal hadith collection of the Ibadi branch of Islam. It has one thousand and five individual hadiths, some of which are also found in Sunni hadiths. The collection is not used outside Ibadism. It is a "musnad", that is to say, a collection of hadiths organized into parts according to which narrator is the source of each hadith. (Other collections are generally organized into parts according to the subject of the hadiths.)

Tartib al-Musnad is a rearrangement and expansion of the hadith collection Jami Sahih compiled by Al-Rabi' bin Habib Al-Farahidi in the Islamic second century. Abu Yaaqub Yusef bin Ibrahim al-Warjilani (d. 570/1175) rearranged the collection and added further narratives.

The work is divided into four parts:

the first two parts contain 742 muttasil hadith

the third part contain narrations from al-Rabi' and Abu Yaqub

the fourth part contains further hadith added by Abu Yaqub from various sources.The 263 hadith of parts three and four are those added by Abu Yaqub's work.

Wilferd Madelung

Wilferd Ferdinand Madelung (born 26 December 1930) is a German-American author and scholar of Islamic history.

Madelung was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where he completed his early education at Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium. His family moved to the United States in 1947. He studied at Georgetown University. In 1952, he went to Egypt and stayed there for a year. During his stay, the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, initiated by the Free Officers, occurred. He also met Ihsan Abbas, the famous scholar of Islamic history.

On leaving Egypt he went back to Germany and completed his Ph.D in 1957, working with Berthold Spuler. In 1958 he was sent to Iraq by the German government to work at its embassy there. Shortly after his arrival in Baghdad, Brigadier Abd al-Karim Qasim overthrew the regime in the bloody military coup known as the 14 July Revolution. Madelung stayed in Iraq two more years. Subsequently, he taught at the University of Chicago.

Madelung was Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1978 to 1998. He has written extensively on the early history of Islam, as well as on Islamic sects such as the Shi'a and the Ismailis.He has also written a lot of academic journals and lectures about Ibadism. He has served on the editorial boards of several academic journals including the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies. He is currently a senior research fellow at the Institute for Ismaili Studies in London

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
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