Al-Khawarij is plural for “Kharij”, meaning one who rebels against the acknowledged Muslim ruler whom Islam obliges every Muslim to obey and not rebel against.
This definition of Al- Khawarij, which is taken from Islamic terminology, has become a trademark for the twelve thousand Muslims who rebelled against Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, and this includes all the groups that followed their way of understanding the religion.
These groups have since been known as “Al-Khawarij” even though they carried different names.
Among those groups are: Al- Muh’akkimah, Ash- Sharat, Al- ‘Haroriyyah, An- Nawa-sib, and Al- Mariqhah.
Al-Khawarij are the people whom the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, mentioned when he said, what translated means, “A group will go astray during a time of division between Muslims. The closest among the adversaries (the side of Ali bin Abi Talib and the side of Mu’awiyah) to the Truth will kill them (the deviant group, Al-Khawarij).”
Also, 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 ‘Aad (whom Allah utterly destroyed and annihilated because of their disbelief) 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].
The companions of the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, were unanimous in their decision to fight Al-Khawarij. Also, the majority of the scholars of Islam state that it is an obligation to fight them.
Soon after they appeared as a distinct group, Al-Khawarij divided into seven groups, among them Al- Muh’akkimah who fought Ali bin Abi Talib.
Al-Khawarij accused Ali [blessings of Allah on him] of Kufr and announced their animosity towards him. They departed to Haroraa’ and chose two men as their leaders, one to lead them in prayer and the other to lead their forces in battle. 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 [blessings of Allah on him]. 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 asked him, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am Abdullah bin Khabbab, the companion of the Messenger Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam.” They said, “Narrate to us a Hadith you heard from your father who related it to the Messenger Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam.” He said, “I heard my father say, ‘The Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, said, ‘There will be a Fitnah (calamity and division) in which those who sit idle are better than those who walk, and those who walk are better than those who rush. Therefore, whoever has no choice but to kill or be killed, let him be killed and let him not be the killer.’” They asked him, “What do you say regarding Abu Bakr and Umar?” Abdullah said good words of praise regarding them. They said, “What do you say with regards to At- Ta’hkim (when Ali and Mu’awiyah reverted to some of the companions to judge between them in their dispute, according to the Quran and Sunnah)?”
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 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 one of them, Musmi’ bin Qhadali, slit his throat. Then, they entered his house and 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 Ali’s emissary, “We all killed him. And, furthermore, if we catch you (meaning Ali) we will kill you too.” Then, Ali prepared to fight them.
But before the battle commenced, he asked them, “What do you dislike as regards my matter?” They said, “We hate that you, when we fought with you on the Day (incident) of Al-Jamal, allowed for us their (the side of ‘Aaishah, Tal’hah, and Az-Zubair) possessions after we defeated them but did not allow us to seize their women and children as slaves. Why did you allow us to shed their blood and seize their possessions but not their women and children?” Ali said, “I only allowed you to seize their possession in return for their looting the Muslim treasury in the city of Basrah before I came to meet them (to convince them to end their rebellion). As for their women and children, they did not fight against us and they, therefore, still enjoyed the rights of Muslims who live in the Islamic state. Also, if I had allowed their women for you, who among you would have liked to take ‘Aaishah (the Prophet’s wife) as his share?” They became ashamed and silent.
Thereafter, Ali refuted all their arguments and, as a consequence, eight thousands of them rejoined his camp. However, four thousands of them insisted on fighting, led by Abdullah bin Wahb Ar-Rasibi and Thu Al-Khuwaysirah (also known as Thu Ath-Thadiyyah), whose name was Hurqus bin Zaid.
Soon afterwards, the battle between Ali and Al-Khawarij commenced, and Ali’s army defeated and killed them all except nine people.
After the battle ended, Ali ordered his soldiers to search for Thu Ath- Thadiyyah, who was then found among the dead. Ali then said, “Allah and His Messenger have said the truth,” because before he passed away, the Prophet Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam had told Ali that he should search for Thu Ath-Thadiyyah among the dead when he meets these rebels.
This sect of Al-Khawarij, also known as Al-Mu’hakkimah, considers Uthman, Ali, ‘Aaishah, Tal’hah, and Az-Zubair as Kuffar. They also oblige the removal or assassination of the Muslim ruler who does not agree with their way of understanding the religion.
Furthermore, they accept the Muslim Ummah being leaderless, allow shedding the blood of the women and children of their adversaries, consider those who fall into major sins as Kuffar, and prohibit marrying the women of those who do not follow them, because they consider them also as Kuffar.
Also, among the sub-sects of Al-Khawarij is Al-Bayhasiyyah. They are the followers of Abu Bayhas, Al- Haytham bin Jabir. They claim that knowledge is only knowing Allah and what the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, was sent with. They consider whoever falls into an action not knowing if it permissible or forbidden as Kafir, since he lacks the “knowledge”.
Al-Azariqhah is another Khawarij sub-sect. They are the followers of Nafi’ bin Al-Azraqh who was known as Abu Rashid. When he first appeared, he rebelled against Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr — a companion of the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam. Many people from Oman and Al-Yamamah also joined Nafi’. They later moved to Persia and took over the area of Al- Ahwaz after they killed Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr’s deputy in that area. They soon controlled Al-Ahwaz and adjacent areas in Persia.
As is the case with other deviant sects, Al-Azariqhah consider their adversaries as Kuffar. They consider those who join their ranks as believers and all others who do not as Kuffar. Yet, they believe that whoever joins their ranks must first be tested to prove his allegiance by ordering him to kill a Muslim captive. Otherwise, he would be killed himself. Also, Al- Azariqhah permit killing the women and children of their adversaries and consider those adversaries to be bound to dwell in Hell for eternity along with their women and children. They also consider the areas that do not join them to be areas of Kufr. Furthermore, they abandon stoning the adulterer, compel women to pray and fast while in their menses, consider Muslims who commit major sins as Kuffar, and allow shedding the blood of Muslims who do not join their ranks. Yet, they prohibit shedding the blood of Jews and Christians who live under Muslim control!
This is just as the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, described them that, “They kill Muslims and spare idol-worshippers.” Also, Al-Azariqhah would cut the hand and arm of the thief, while Islam commands cutting the thief’s hand only from the wrist. They also claim that the Ayah,
‘And of mankind there is he whose speech may please you (O Mohammad) in this worldly life.’[2:204], describes Ali bin Abi Talib, and that the Ayah,
‘And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the Pleasure of Allah.’ [2:207], describes Ibn Muljim, the cursed criminal who killed Ali, may Allah be pleased with him.
We have shown how this deviant sect, Al-Khawarij, divided among themselves, and we also clarified the major beliefs of different Khawarij sub-sects.
From this short summary of their beliefs and practices, we now know the imminent danger of their beliefs, many of which still flourish among ignorant Muslims in the present time.
The beliefs of Al-Khawarij have always been and still pose grave danger to Islam and Muslims.
We ask Allah for protection and safety from the misguided beliefs of Al-Khawarij and their likes, for He is the All-Hearer and the only One Who fulfills the Du’aa’.
THE GREAT DEBATE of Ibn Abbas’s
The story of Ibn Abbas’s (May Allah be pleased with him and his Father) debate against them is in the Mustadrik of Hakam (2/150-152) in an authentic chain and upon the conditions of acceptance of Imam Muslim.
In it is the statement of Ibn Abbas:
“I come to you from the Companions of the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) from amongst the Muhajireen and Ansaar to inform you of what they say. They were present when the Qur’an was revealed, and they are more knowledgeable about the revelation than you are and were present at its descending, and not a single one of you is from them. So some of them said: لا تخاصموا قريشاً Do not dispute with a person from the Quraish because
Allah says: ‘But they are a quarrelsome people.’
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him and his Father) said:
“I never saw a people striving harder in doing deeds. Their faces were marked with lines from abstaining from sleep. It was as if their hands and knees praised them.
So those who were present proceeded, and some of them said,
“By Allah we will speak to him and debate what he says”
I asked:“Why do you have resentment against the cousin of the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) his in-laws, the Muhajireen and Ansaar? They said:” (because of) Three things”
I asked: “What are they?”
They said: “As for the first one it is that he made men arbitrators in the matters of Allah. And Allah said:
‘Verily! The decision rests only with Allah’ [Yusuf: 67]
I said: “ This is one”
And they said:
“As for the other, it is that he fought and did not take captives or booty of war. If the ones being fought are disbelievers, then indeed it is permissible to take them captive and take the booty of war, and if they were believers it would not be permissible to fight them.
I said: “ That’s two, so what is the third one?”
They said: “He wiped out the title of ‘Amir al-Mu’mineen’ for himself, so he is the Amir of the disbelievers.”
I said: “Do you have anything others than these?
They said: “This suffices us”
So I said to them:
“If I read of the Qur’an and Sunnah that which refutes these claims, will you be pleased? They said: “Yes” So I said:
As for your statement: ‘A man has arbitrated in the matter of Allah’, I will read to you what has given the power of arbitration to men concerning a killed rabbit and the likes of that which is hunted which price is worth a quarter of a dirham. Allah says:
O you who believe! Kill not game while you are in a state of Ihram (for Hajj or ‘Umrah), and whosoever of you kills it intentionally, the penalty is an offering, brought to the Ka’bah, of an eatable animal (i.e. sheep, goat, cow, etc.) equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; [Maidah: 95]
I ask you by Allah, is the arbitration of men concerning a rabbit and its like of hunted animals better than their arbitration regarding bloodshed and reconciliation between themselves? And you are aware that if Allah wished he would have decided the matters himself and not left it to men. And concerning a woman and her husband Allah says:
“If you fear separation between them, appoint an arbitrator from his family and from her family; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation” [Nis’aa: 35]
So Allah has made the judgement of men a reliable Sunnah. Have I convinced you on this?” They replied: : نعم! “Yes” (I said to them):
Regarding your saying ‘You fought them, but did not seize their booty nor capture them,’ Can you capture your Mother ‘Aisha then make permissible concerning her what is permissibility concerning other female slaves.
If you say that she can be captured and treated like any of the other female slaves, you have surely committed disbelief, because she is your mother. If you say that ‘she is not our mother’ than you have also committed disbelief, for Allah says:
The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage). [Ahzab: 6]
You are thus hovering between two deviations. Whichever one you go towards, you go towards misguidance.”
So some of them began to look at each other.I asked: “Have I convinced you?” They replied: “Yes” (I said to them):
‘And as for your statement that he wiped out the title of ‘Amir al- Mu’mineen’ for himself, I will show and bring you proof by one whom you are pleased with. I heard on the Day of Hudaybiyyah, when the treaty was being drafted by Suhail bin Amr and Abu Sufyan bin Harb, the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) say to the Amir ul Mu’mineen: “Write O’ ‘Ali: ‘This is what has been agreed upon by Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah’.” The Mushrikeen objected to this saying: “No, By Allah, if we believed that you were the Messenger of Allah, we would not have fought you.” Upon this, the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said: O’ Allah you know that I am the Messenger of Allah. Write O’ Ali ‘This is what has been agreed upon by Muhammad bin Abdullah.’ …For I swear by Allah that the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) is better than Ali, and erasing his title did not remove his Prophethood.’
Abdullah Bin Abbas (May Allah be Pleased with him and his Father) said:
So (after this), two-thousands of them (the Khawaarij) returned to the truth and the rest of them were killed upon falsehood.