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The formation of Kharijites and the doctrine of Kharijites and its significance

1. History of khawaarij
Al-Khawarij is a derivative from the Arabic verb kharaja meanin to go out . They were called khawarij because they withdrew from Alis camp after the Battle of Siffin in 658. After the arbitration agreement between Ali and Muawiyah, two men from from Alis camp came out and called No judgement except Gods. This was the first Khariji battle cry. Then more people came forward and shouted the same. These were some twelve thousand men.

Al-Khawarij accused Ali of Kufr and announced their animosity towards him. They departed to Harura . When Ali realized the danger posed by these people, he sent Abdullah Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, to debate them and expose their erroneous ways. Ibn Abbas argued with them and refuted the arguments supporting the positions they took. Many of them abandoned the camp of Al-Haroriyyah and rejoined the camp of Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib. However, their leaders and those who remained with them refused to abandon their rebellion against the righteous Khalifah, Ali. They announced that their campaign of war against their adversaries will continue. Ali bin Abi Talib then decided to meet them himself. He called upon them to rejoin the ranks of the Khalifah and abandon their deviant ways. He also refuted their arguments and nullified their misguided way of understanding the religion. However, they persisted in their defiance of the Khalifah and camped their forces at the area of An-Nahrawan. On their way to An-Nahrawan, Al-Khawarij met Abdullah -- the son of Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, a noble companion of the Messenger Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, and seized him. They said, What do you say with regards to At- Tahkim ? He said, I say that Ali has better knowledge in the Book of Allah, is more careful with the religion, and has more wisdom than you! They said, You do not follow the Truth and
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Guidance. Rather, you follow men according to their fame. They then said to him, This Quran (which you carry) around your neck commands us to kill you. He said, Whoever the Quran preserves his life, you preserve his life in turn. And whoever the Quran sheds his blood, give him death in turn. Then, they brought Abdullah bin Khabbab closer to the river, and slit his throat. Then, killed his children and also his wife, who was pregnant, and slit open her stomach. When Ali bin Talib heard what Al-Khawarij did to Abdullah bin Khabbab and his family, he led an expedition of four thousand soldiers to arrest those who committed this atrocity. When he reached their area, he asked them to deliver those who killed Abdullah. They said to Alis emissary, We all killed him. And, furthermore, if we catch you (meaning Ali) we will kill you too. Then, Ali prepared to fight them.

1.1 Hadith regarding Khawarij

The Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, said regarding a man who once accused him of injustice, From among the offspring of this man there will rise a people who will read the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats (meaning it will not enter their hearts). They will kill Muslims and spare Idol-worshippers. They will deviate from Islam (as fast and clean) as an arrow pierces the game. If I live to witness their appearance, I will kill them as the people of were killed. [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]. He further said, Just before the end of time, young, idiotic people will rise. They will say words similar to (the good words) of the best people. They will recite the Quran, but it will not go beyond their throats. They will deviate from the religion as fast as an arrow pierces the game. If you meet them, kill them, for killing them will bring about a reward from Allah on the Day of Resurrection for whoever kills them. [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].

2. The basic doctrines

Using the words No judgement but Gods , they were to continiue fighting agaisngs Muawiyah until God gave them victory. Associated with this slogan are several of their other doctrines: 1. Every grave sinner was an unbeliever and excluded from the community.

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2. Al-Imamah: The Kharijites believe that imamah can be from ouside Quraysh and if the imam deviates from justice, then he must be removed and killed. 3. The properties of those who are of different views are permissible. This means that anyone who has different views can be killed and their properties are lawful to take. 4. In ilm al kalam, their views are similar to those of Mutazilah such as they all hold that Quran was created, and agreed on the Mutazilah view of qadr.

2.1 The Azraqites

These are the followers of Ibn al Azraq who was killed by the Muslim army in 658. His doctrines were also influence by the above slogan. Therefore, those who did not oppose or actively associated themselves with the group prosecuting the struggle against the unbelievers were themselves breaking a divine command and hence unbelievers. This means that true Muslims are only in the camp of Azraqites. Consequently, everyone, except Jews , Christians, etc who had officially received protection (dhimmah) from Islamic community as a whole , can be lawfully robbed or killed. Furthermore, this also applies to the wives and children of of these people since the families of unbelievers are also unbelievers.

2.2 Najda and Najdites

The Najdites accepted responsibility to maintain order of large areas and hence it was impossible to impose the punishment of exile or death for every instance of sin. Hence they made distinctions between fundamentals and non-fundamentals in religion. Fundamentals included knowledge of God and his messengers, acceptance of revealed scriptures, and acknowledgement that life of every Muslim was sacred.

They also believed that single sins like theft does not make them people of Hell. But persistence in sin even in lesser sins made a man mushrik and is excluded from the community. However, the occasional sinner might be punished by God, but the punishment would not be in Hell and would not be eternal and he would finally enter Paradise. They also disagreed with Azraqites that those who sit still are not unbelievers but munafiqun.

2.3 Other sects of Khawarij and their doctrines

In Basra, three sects of Khawarij emerged: ibadiyyah, Sufriyya, and bayhasiyya. These Kharijites
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were not rebellious and were prepared to live under a ruler who did not share their principles. The Sufriyyah did not regard sitting still as unbelief. However, some Sufrites view that a grave sin made a man unbeliever or kafir. Others distinguished between sins which had prescribed punishement in the Quran with those with no fixed punishment like omitting salat or fasting. for them, the latter made a man kafir whereas the former like adultery made the the man an adulterer but not a kafir. The Ibadiyyahs considered other Muslims as monothiets but not believers or muminun.

3. Effects of Kharijite doctrine in contemporary Islamic thought 3.1 al-Imamah:

Both Ahl al Sunnah and Khawarij (except Najdiyya) view that the position of imam is a mandatory. They also agree on the characterisitics of the imam except that the imam had to be from Quraysh. The Khawarij believe that the position of imam is a right for Muslims and anyone who is qualified can hold the position.

This position of Khawarij is one of the most widespread views of the Khawarij in the world. Scholars have different views regarding this issue with some saying that the hadith is not authentic. Others regard those hadith as authentic, but believe that is only applicable to the early Islamic period and not applicable to our present time.

3.2 al-Takfir:
The Khawarij believe that iman is through belief, speech and action. Hence if one element goes missing, then he is a kafir. Consequently, they would make takfeer (render someone a kaafir) of anyone who commits a major sin and claim that he will forever abide in the Fire of Hell. This is also an influential view in contemporary Islamic thought. Salih Siriyyah says: we judge iman based on three pillars as the salaf said: acceptance by heart, speking by tingue, and acting out the pillars. If one of them is omitted, then we judge him with kufr. Similarly, Shukri Mustafa of Jamaat al Muslimin holds the same opinion. Some scholars view that the jamaat takfir of present day and the Khawarij has a connection in terms of thought.
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3.3 al-Hakimiyyah.
Ahl- al Sunnah believe that Allah is the hakim and there is no hukm but His. This is based on several verses of the Quran. However this does not mean that man cannot rule byhimself but it is within the limits of the Shariah. According to the Khawarij, those who does not rule according to what Allah reavealed then he is a kafir.

Abd al Tawwab Muhammad Uthman, Athar Ara al Khawarij fi al Fikr al Islami al Muasir, Dar al Muhadditheen. Kenney, Jeffrey Thomas. Heterodoxy and culture: The legacy of the Khawarij in Islamic history. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1999 Timani, Hussam S. The Khawarij in modern Islamic historiography. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. 2002. William Montgomery Watt. The formative period of Islamic thought.

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