The Kharijites of the past & QSIS o...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

The Kharijites of the past & QSIS of today: two faces of the same coin?

The Kharijites of the past & QSIS of today: two faces of the same coin?

The famous statement which indicates that “history repeats itself” cannot be more true than in the case of our modern day terrorism which plagued the minds of half-educated and ill-hearted extremists whose warped logic and deviant ideologies established the brutal platform of shedding blood and gave them the effrontery of randomly killing both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, torturing the captives and the hostages, enslaving women, looping money destroying places of worships and sanctuaries, usurping authority and gaining power among many other atrocious acts falsely under the name of Islam and Jihad.

Along the line of history we find that this sickened ideology has deep roots which dates back to the Kharijites, a name which was given to a group of people at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who were known for their lack of discipline and good manners along with their extremist mentality and excessive zealotry; thus they carried the seeds of terrorism for generations to come.

The kharajites first appeared in the days of the Prophet and their ideas gained momentum during the caliphate of ‘Uthman until it emerged as a full-fledged and organized group during the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib. God Most High alluded to the Kharijites in the Quran and there are many prophetic hadith reports that explain their signs, beliefs, doctrines and practices.

In general, the Kharijites committed acts of terrorism and carried out atrocities in the name of Islam. Due to their extreme and specious religious arguments, they would declare it permissible to shed the blood of both Muslims and non-Muslims. Through out this article we will examine the relationship between the beliefs and actions of the Kharijites of old and the terrorists of today.

The definition of “Kharijities” by Muslim scholars:
The classical Muslim scholars have given a precise definition of the Kharijities. Imam Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Karim al- Shahrastani said in his famous book of heresiology, al Milal wal- Nihal,
“Anyone who revolts against the Muslim government that enjoys the support of the community is called a Kharijite whether this revolt was against the Rightly Guided Caliphs or during the time of the companions or against those after them who followed them with excellence or the Muslim rulers of every subsequent era.”

The renowned scholar Imam al- Nawawi said:
“The Kharijites are a group of blameworthy innovators who believe that a person who commits a grave sin falls into disbelief and will eternally reside in Hell. For this reason they defame the rulers and do not participate in the congregational prayers or the Friday prayers with them.”

Ibn Taymiyya stated:
“Since they were armed and inclined to fight, their opposition to the community manifested when they started killing the people. However as for today most people (due to their religious garb and appearance) do not know of them… and their passing through the religion is their leaving it because of their having declared lawful the blood and wealth of the Muslims.”

The famous scholar of Hadith Imam Ibn Hajar states:
“The word “Kharijites” is the plural of Kharija (he who went out), which means a faction. They are a group of blameworthy innovators and are called rebels because of their leaving the religion and rebelling against the best of the Muslims.”

Ibn Nujaym al Hanafi stated:
“The kharijites are a folk possessing strength and zealotry, who revolt against the government due to a self-styled interpretation. They believe that government is upon falsehood, disbelief or disobedience that necessitates it being fought against, and they declare lawful the blood and wealth of the Muslims.”

The Quran has strongly rejected in numerous places the heinous act of murder, especially murder on a mass scale that spreads terror and mischief on earth. According to the Quran those who commit such deeds are considered brigands and rebels. A thorough study of the Quran will shed light on the many signs and blameworthy innovations of the Kharijites.

For example God says, “and those who spread corruption on the earth; for them is the curse and the worst abode” (13:25). This verse refers to the Kharijites as evidenced by the interpretation of the great companion, Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas, who said, “By the One besides whom there is no other god, they are the Haruriyya (i.e. the Kharijites)”

God also says, “and when it is said to them, “do not spread corruption on the earth, they sai, we are only reformers. Beware; it is they who truly spread corruption, although they perceive it not”.

And, “So what about him whose evil action has been made attractive to him and he considers it good?”
Qatada said, “Amongst them are the Kharijities who declare lawful the blood and wealth of the Muslims”.
The beginning of the Kharijite’s ideology

The turmoil of the Kharijites began during the time of the Prophet. Abu Sa’id al- Khudri said, “When the Prophet was apportioning the war booty, Dhu al-Khuwaysira, a man from Banu Tamim, said, “O Messenger of God! Be Just!” The Prophet replied, “woe to you! Who will be just if I am not just?”

It was Dhu al-Khuwaysira’s disrespect to the Prophet that laid the foundation for one of the worst trials faced by the Umma. And the militants and rebels who revolted against the authority of Uthman and Ali were a continuation of the evil precedent set by Dhu al- Khuwaysira.

Ibn Hajar al- ‘Asqalani mentioned a report from ‘Abd al-Razzaq al- San’ani who said,
Dhu al- Khuwaysira al- Tamimi’s real name was Hurqus b. Zuhayr and he was the founder of the Kharijites”. Thus the later-day Kharijites had the same mindset as their founder.

Many disruptions erupted in the Umma after the passing of the Prophet. They include false claims to prophethood, apostasy, refusal to pay Zakat and rejection of several other basic teachings of Islam. Those who embraced the beliefs of the Kharijites promoted their warped understanding, exploited these disruptions and began organizing themselves. Those who actively hatched the conspiracy against ‘Uthman, and ultimately killed him in the final days of his rule, were composed of those who held the extremist beliefs of the Kharijites. The most prominent of them was one ‘Abdullah b. Saba. This was the first time an extremist and terrorist group challenged the authority of the state.

The major objective of the Kharijites is to destabilize the foundations of the Muslim state in the name of the religion. When we look critically at the history of the Kharijites, we see that theirs was a violent movement that was against dialogue and peaceful settlement of disputes, such as the policy that Ali, the fourth rightly guided caliph, adopted in the form of arbitration before the Battle of Siffin. As long as the clamor of war prevailed, the Kharijite elements in Ali’s army were active, but the moment he decided to seek arbitration for the sake of avoiding further bloodshed, they rejected his decision and deserted his troops. Calling him a disbeliever, they organized a terrorist rebellion group and rose against him and the Muslim Umma in the name of Jihad. When they organized themselves, their motto and call was, “There is no judgment but for God”. When Ali heard their slogan he said, “A word of truth by which falsehood is intended”.

Establishing an organized terrorist group to challenge the authority of Caliph Ali b. Abi Taleb:
The Kharijites initiated an armed rebellion against Ali and based themselves in Harura, located on the Iraqi border. They accused him of polytheism and blameworthy innovations and declared him a disbeliever and rebelled against him. This would prove to be the start of their mass killing and terrorism. They argued, “Do you seek judgment from men in that which is God’s command? There is no judgment but for God.

In their response to Ali’s letter addressed to them, the Kharijites wrote,
“Indeed, you were not angry for the sake of your Lord; you were angry for the sake of your ego. Now, if you confess that you fell into disbelief and repent, we will look into the matter that is between you and us; otherwise we reject, and indeed, God does not love the deceitful”.

This letter and the sermons by the Kharijites indicate that, in their opposition to Ali, they considered themselves to be the paragons of righteousness and truth and considered Ali a purveyor of polytheism and blameworthy innovation (and God’s refuge is sought from such a notion). They were so earnest in their hatred of polytheism and blameworthy innovation that they deserted Ali’s city and claimed that it was an abode of disbelief. They would take to the mountains and wastelands and ambush travelers and they would catch hold of their opponents and torture them to death.

Later Ali formed an army of companions to launch military offensives against them in order to eliminate them completely and restore peace and security and establish the authority of the government. They were finally defeated as the prophet had prophesied and ordered.

The preceding discussion has shown us that sometimes crooked and short-sighted people emerge in society with compound ignorance concerning the wisdom and vision of the religion. They strictly obsrve the outward religious acts, which in turn instill them with the conceited belief that they are staunch Muslims and true embodiments of Islam. They feel themselves near to God and consider all others either disbelievers or disobedient. They believe it is their right to force others to adhere to the path of reighteousness and they forget God’s words, “Invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly invitation”. (16:125)And, “There is no compulsion in the religion” (2:256)

The Kharijite’s belief and doctrine
Satan plants the seeds of arrogance in their hearts, which in turn cause them to see themselves as pure Muslims and others as impure, if Muslims at all. They believe that it is their right to force others to believe what they believe, and because Satan has molded them and shaped them with the idea that they are peerless, they are convinced that they are free to use whatever means at their path or eliminate them.

This mindset allows them to kill people, spread terror and plunder wealth and property without fear of sin. According to their warped understanding, whatever crimes they do are jihad. The Quran informs us that they will be the greatest of losers in the Hereafter: “say, Shall we inform you of those who are the greatest losers with respect to their deeds? It is those whose entire struggle is wasted in the life of this world, but they presume they are doing good”.

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said, Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al- ‘Arabi said, “The Kharijites are two types: those who claim that ‘Uthman, Ali and those present at the Battle of al-jamal and Siffin, and all who were pleased with the arbitration, were disbelievers; and those who claim that anyone who commits a grave sin is a disbeliever who will abide eternally in Hell. Najda b. Amier had added a belief not held by the other Kharijites, namely that the one who does not march out and wage war against the Muslims is himself a disbeliever even if he held the belief of the Kharijites.

Ibn Taymiyya spoke about the blasphemous beliefs of the Kharijites and their oppressive behavior against the Muslims,
As the Prophet described them, they would kill the people of Islam and leave the idolaters. They declared Ali b. Abi Talib and ‘Uthman b. Affan disbelievers, as well as those who allied with them. They killed Ali b. Abi Talib, believing that it was lawful. The killer was abd al- Rahman b. Muljam al- Muradi. He, along with the other Kharijites, was devout in their worship; however, they were grossly ignorant (of religious logic and wisdom) and abandoned the Sunna and the community. They said, there is only the believer and the disbeliever; the believer is he who performs every single obligation and abstains from every single prohibition. So whoever does not fit that description is a disbeliever who will abide eternally in the Fire. Furthermore, they applied this to anyone who objected to them and said, ‘Uthman and Ali and their ilk have judged by other than what God has revealed and committed oppression therefore they are disbelievers”.

The reason why the Kharijites are also called Haruriyya is because the first group of Kharijites emerged from the area of Harura in the days of Ali’s caliphate. Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani said:
The start of all this lies with some of the people of Iraq who objected to the behavior of some of ‘Uthman’s relatives (who were in power), so as a result they defamed Uthman. They used to be called “the reciters” because of their dedication to recitation and worship; however, they would incorrectly interpret the Quran, force others to adopt their views and go to extremes in asceticism, humility and so on. So After uthman was killed they fought alongside Ali believing that Urhman and those who followed him were disbelievers. They believed in the imamate of Ali and held that those who fought against him during the Battle of al Jamal were disbelievers. However when he chose arbitraton, they censured him and left him at Siffin and became secessionists (Kharijites).

They were eight thousand in number, although it was said that they were over ten thousand and when Ali was making an address they issued calls from around the mosque, saying, “there is no judgment but for God”. Ali said, “A true word by which falsehood is intended”. Ali also said to them, “there are three rights you have over us: that we do not prevent you from the mosques, that we do not withhold from you your provision from the fay’ (spoils acquired without fighting), and that we do not initiate fighting against you so long as you do not spread corruption. They seceded, bit by bit, until they gathered in Madain and they began withholding obedience from Ali, saying they would continue until Ali confessed to disbelief for having preferred arbitration. Then they concurred amongst themselves that whoever does not believe as they do is to be declared a disbeliever whose blood, wealth and family are lawful. Then they are killed any of the Muslims who passed their way.

The Kharijites were concealed within the ranks during the caliphate of Ali until Abdul Rahman b. Muljam killed Ali after having approached him during the Dawn Prayer. During that time the Kharijites emerged from Iraq with Nafi’ b. al-Azraq, and in Yamama with Najda b. Amir and Najda had added a belief not held by the other Kharijites, namely that the one who does not march out and wage war against the Muslims is himself a disbeliever even if he held the belief of the Kharijites. They imputed disbelief upon those who neglected to enjoin the good and forbid the evil if they were able to do so an still neglected it and if they were unable it was believed that they committed a grave sin, and according to them, the one who commits a major sin is a disbeliever.

History of brutal killings
One particularly heinous event occurred when the Kharijites brutally slaughtered Abdullah b. Khabbab and his wife for refusing to declare ‘Uthman and Ali disbelievers. Imam al- Tabari, Ibn al-Athir and Ibn Kathir narrated:

They put him on the ground and slaughtered him, causing his blood to flow into the water. Then they advanced towards his wife and she said, “I am pregnant, don’t you fear God”, Then they sliced open her stomach and killed three other women from Tay (because they sympathized with her).

When Ali learnt about the murder of Abdullah b. Khabbab he dispatched al- Harith b. Murra al- Abdi to the Kharijites to investigat the incident. When he reached the Kharijites and asked why they murdered Abdullah, they killed him as well. Ibn Kathir mentioned that after this, the Kharijites wrote to Ali, Saying,
“All of us have killed your brothers and we believe that both their blood and your blood are lawful”.
When Ali dispatched Qays b. Sa’d b. Ubada al- Ansari to go and negotiate with the Kharijites, he addressed them saying,
“O servants of God..hand over those of you whome we want, and obey the authority of the state that you have challenged. For indeed, you have committed a grievous crime; you accuse us of polytheism and shed the blood of the Muslims.

Similarly as Ali’s representative, Abu Ayyub al- Ansari also tried to convince the Kharijites. He said,
“O servants of God. Certainly, we and you are in the same state as we were before. There is no hostility as such between you and us, so why do you fight us for?”

Their terrorists and rebellious state of mind is also revealed in the address Ali made to the kharijites, “explain to us by what justification do you declare it lawful to kill us and rebel against the authority of the state and take up arms? And then you go out and slay people! Indeed this is most surely a clear loss. I swear by God, it would be seen as grievous in the sight of God that you even kill a chicken with this intention, so what about a harmless soul that is considered inviolable in His sight?

When Ali presented the banner of peace to Abu Ayyub al- Ansari, he went out and said, “whoever takes refuge under this banner is safe, whoever abstains from fighting and killing will be safe; and whoever amongst you heads to Kufa or to the other towns and abandons this group is safe”

The Kharijites would base their call for religion on the Quran. Expressing their religious zealotry, they would rouse extremist’s sentiments in some of the hapless an ignorant Muslims and misinterpreting Jihad, they would incite them to commit mass murder. To motivate them further they would mention the rewards of paradise so as to mentally prepare their followers to kill and be killed.

If we analyze the methodology and activities of the modern-day terrorists, we see that hey are mentally immature, young and brainwashed, and have the same modus operandi as the Kharijites of old. Their warped view of Islam is plain to see on the one hand they are very devout in their worship and on the other hand they have no compunction in killing peaceful people. Ibn Kathir reported that once the branch of a date palm fell during a journey and one of the khharijites picked up a date from it and put it in his mouth. A fellow Kharijite objected and reminded him that he did not have the owner’s permission. Immediately, the man spit it out.

Similarly, Imam Ibn al Athir related that once when a pig owned by one of the non-Muslim citizens passed by a member of the Kharijites, he killed it with his sword. A fellow Kharijite condemned him for killing it and when its owner came he begged his pardon paid its price and made the man happy.

The historical records prove that the Kharijites considered blood a cheap commodity. They had no reservations about killing people and cared not one iota for those who were brought up with the Prophet’s spiritual training. Since the Prophet made it categorically clear that these people would continue to emerge, time and time again, it is easy to recognize the modern-day Kharijits, for they share the same traits of those of old. They too shed the blood of people; they too brutally slaughter women and children and challenge the authority of the state; they too attack mosques, murder peaceful people engaged in worship and target them in the marketplaces; and they too call their dastardly deeds jihad. All the current acts of terrorism committed by the so-called “Mujahidun” are but a continuation of the Kharijite doctrine and ideology.

Source: Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings by Dr. Muhammad Tahir al- Qadri


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