Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and the most honorable prayer and peace be upon the master of the first and the last, our master, Muhammad, the chosen, the trustworthy, and upon his pious and pure family, his faithful companions, and those who followed them in goodness until the Day of Judgment, may Allah Almighty be pleased with them all.
Khawarij is an Islamic sect that historians say emerged in the time of the fourth Caliph Ali Bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, after the battle of Siffin. This battle was between the fourth Caliph, and Mu’awiya Bin Abi Sufian, who was a ruler of the Levant during the reign of the third Caliph, Otham Bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him. The Khawarij opposed the Caliph because of the political differences that began during his reign. The Khawarij are categorized as the strongest sect who act in defense of their doctrine and intolerance of their views. They follow the literal meaning of the sacred texts and apply them indiscriminately to time and place, even when it is very clear the Prophet meant a certain practice or statement to apply only to a past time or event(s). Khawarij called themselves ‘the people of belief’, or ‘the group of believers’, while Muslim scholars call them Khawarij because they raised their weapons against the right and just Caliph, mainly Ali Bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. The word Khawarij is taken from the verb khjaraja which means carrying weapons against the ruler. It is interesting that the Khawarij themselves agreed on that term, and they also said that they are Khawarij against unjust and oppressive rulers.
Although historians say that the Khawarij emerged in the time of the fourth Caliph, we have evidence that prove that their seed and origin was already present in the time of Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. Abu Sai’d al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: When we were in the company of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, and he was distributing the spoils of war, there came to him Dhul-Khuwasira, one of the Banu Tamim tribe. Dhul-Khuwasira said to the Prophet, peace be upon him: “Messenger of Allah, do justice.” Upon this the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, answered: “Woe be upon thee! Who would do justice, if I do not do justice? You would be unsuccessful and incurring a loss, if I do not do justice.” Upon this Umar b. Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, asked the Prophet, peace be upon him: “Messenger of Allah, permit me to strike off his neck.” However, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “Leave him, for he has friends (who would outwardly look to be so religious and pious) so that everyone among you would consider his prayer insignificant as compared with their [the Khawariji’s] prayer, and his fast as compared with their fasts. They [the Khawarij] would recite the Qur’an but it would not go beyond their collarbones. They [the Khawarij] would pass through (the teachings of Islam so hurriedly) just as the arrow passes through the prey. He would look at its iron head, but would not find anything sticking there. He would then see at the lowest end, but would not find anything sticking there. He would then see at its grip but would not find anything sticking to it. He would then see at its feathers and he would find nothing sticking to them (as the arrow would pass so quickly that nothing would stick to it) neither excrement nor blood. They [the Khawarij] would be recognized by the presence of a black man among them whose upper arms would be like a woman’s breast, or like a piece of meat as it quivers, and they would come forth at the time when there is dissension among the people. Abu Sai’d said: I testify to the fact that I heard it from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, and I testify to the fact that ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib fought against them and I was with him. He gave orders about that man who was sought for, and he was brought in, and when I looked at him, he was exactly as the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, had described him, (Sahih Muslim, book 12, hadith 193).
There is another hadith, narrated by the same companion that describes them in details, Abu Said al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib sent to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, from Yemen some gold alloyed with clay in a leather bag dyed in the leaves of mimosa flavor. He distributed it among four men. ‘Uyaina Bin Hisna, Aqra’ Bin Habis and Zaid al-Khail, and the fourth one was either Alqama Bin ‘Ulatha or ‘Amir Bin Tufail. A person from among his (Prophet’s) Companions who did not receive from this gold said: We had a better claim to this (wealth) than these (other persons). This remark reached the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, upon which he said: Will you not trust me, whereas I am a trustee of Him Who is in the heaven? The news come to me from the heaven morning and evening. Then there stood up a person with deep sunken eyes, prominent cheek bones, and elevated forehead, thick beard, shaven head, tucked up loincloth, and he said: Messenger of Allah, fear Allah. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Woe to thee. Do I not deserve most to fear Allah amongst the people of the earth? That man then returned. Khalid Bin Walid then said: Messenger of Allah, should I not strike his neck? Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) mercifully observed: Perhaps he may be observing the prayer. Khalid said: How many observers of prayer are there who profess with their tongue what is not in their heart? Upon this the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, wisely answered making clear that none of us can judge what good or evil is hidden in the hearts and minds of others: “I have not been commanded to pierce through the hearts of people, nor to split their bellies (insides).” However, the Prophet again looked at him as he was going back. Upon this the Holy Prophet said: “There will arise a people from the progeny of this (man) who will recite the Qur’an glibly, but it would not go beyond their throats; they will (hurriedly) pass through (the teachings of their) religion just as the arrow passes through the prey.” This hadith also reports that the Holy Prophet also said this: “If I find them I would certainly kill them as were killed the (people of) Thamud. (Sahih Muslim, book 12, hadith 189).
Ali Bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, likewise narrated: I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying, “In the last days (of the world) there will appear young people with foolish thoughts and ideas. They will give good talks, but they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out of its game, their faith will not exceed their throats. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for there will be a reward for their killers on the Day of Resurrection. (Sahih al-Bukhari, book 66, hadith 82).
Ali Bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, characterized the Khawarij in the best way in his famous saying which most certainly could refer to what we recently saw with the so called Islamic State, Dawlah Islamyia and its so-called caliph, Abu Bakr Baghdadi. In his hadith, Ali Bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet. Thereafter there shall appear a feeble insignificant folk. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron. They will have the state. [However,] they will fulfil neither covenant nor agreement. They will call to the truth, but they will not be people of the truth. Their names will be parental attributions, and their aliases will be derived from towns. Their hair will be free-flowing like that of women. This situation will remain until they differ among themselves. Thereafter, God will bring forth the Truth through whomever He wills.” (Book of fitan for Nu’aim Bin Hammad, 573). We have to remember that Ali Bin Abi Talib saw the Khawarij and fought them so he is not referring to that time. Instead, in this saying, he is prophesying about a time to come. Scholars say that such prophesies cannot be made by opinions, so he must have heard it from the Prophet, peace be upon him.
It is obvious from these hadiths mentioned here and others that the Khawarij will have certain characteristics, such as:
- The lack of understanding and awareness of the Qur’an.
- They follow asceticism in their worship, and malice in their beliefs.
- They are peaceful with people of disbelief, but waging war against the people of Islam.
- They are of young ages and foolish opinions.
- Their names will be parental attributions, and their aliases will be derived from towns, such as: Abu Qatatdah al-Tunisi, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!
The ideology of Khawarij that separates them from other Muslim sects is the following:
- Revolting against the rulers if they violate their approach and their understanding of the religion.
- Labeling Muslims who commit major sins as infidels.
- The disavowal of the two rightly guided Caliphs, Uthman and Ali, may Allah be pleased with them both.
- Permissibility of the Great Imamate in non-Qurashi, that everyone they appoint and establishes justice is the Imam, whether he is a slave or free, Arab or non-Arab. This opinion goes against the opinion that restricts the leadership to Quraish tribe, A group of them, who are the Nejdaat, had the opinion that people do not need an imam, but rather people should be equal among themselves.
There are other things that some of their sects do, but the previously-mentioned points should be enough for this article.
Although they had the same ideology, at least in the beginning, the many Khawarij who appeared historically can be analyzed and separated into different sects. Each sect has its own ideology. These sects are:
- The Azariqah, followers of Nafi’ Bin al-Azraq. Their ideology can be characterized by that they regard that the lands of their opponents are the lands of unbelief. So whoever resides in it is an infidel, and they said that children of the infidels will perpetuate in Hellfire. They denied the stoning of the married adulterer, and established the punishment for slandering the chaste woman without slandering the chaste man, and they made equal in cutting off the hand of the thief, whether the stolen property was a little or a lot.
- The Sifris, followers of Ziyad al-Asfar. They are like the Azariah in everything except killing the children of the opposers, as they say it is forbidden.
- The Nejdaat, followers of Najdah Bin Aamir al-Hanafi. They said that religion is based on two points: A- Knowing Allah and his messenger and the forbiddance of spilling Muslim blood or taking their property B- Acknowledging what came from Allah in general. Other than that pertaining permissible and forbidden things, they say that the ignorant is pardoned for they are not part of religious essence. They also say that the Muslim who is persistent on committing sins is an infidel, no matter if that sin is a minor or a major sin.
- The Ajarids, followers of Abdulkareem Bin Ajrad, who was from the Najdaat, but they differ in the following: A- It is obligatory to call a child to Islam if he reaches puberty and absolve him before that. B- They are loyal to the Khawarij who do not rebel against the ruler if they are known for their piety among those who agree with them in religion and doctrine. C- It is not necessary to migrate to them, but rather preferred. D-Generally they do not allow taking the properties of the opposer unless they kill him.
- The Ibathis, followers of Abdullah Bin Ibath. They are the least exaggerated Khawarij, and the most moderate. For them, the blasphemy of the one who commits major sins is a disbelief of grace, not a disbelief of polytheism. They did not say that the children of infidels will be immortalized in Hellfire.
After all these information about the Khawarij, making a simple comparison between them and extremist groups like ISIS, Qaeda and Al-Shabaab will result in a perfect match in ideology, attitudes and behavior. They are considered a danger to Islam, Muslims and the whole world! Think and reflect upon these texts and ask Allah to guide you to His straight path, and do not be fooled by fake Muslims who will lead you to Hellfire. I pray to Allah to guide us to His straight path, amen!