Kharijites’ characteristics now and then
All praise be to Allah, the Gracious and Bountiful, Who blesses His slaves with His Mercy, and may Allah bless the prophet Mohammad and his companions, and those who followed their righteous path until the Hereafter.
Whoever looks into the Kharijites of the past and the Kharijites of today will eventually reach a conclusion that they are two sides of the same coin. Thus, the reader would benefit from learning their attributes, and their conditions; and it should be known that the contemporary Kharijites are related – whether directly or indirectly – to the previous Kharijites not just in their ideological aspects, but also in their psychological structure, outward behaviours and mentality. The explains the secret of the great resemblance between them in their heinous biography and obscene ideology. Nevertheless, the contemporary Kharijites have reached extremes when it comes to their oral and verbal abuse, for these people will never accept any ruler, even if he is just and provides the people with what they need. They remain ingrate and unjust, foolish people, as describe by the Prophet. The punishment that Allah has prepared for these murderers is more than sufficient
We mention herein their most prominent characteristics so that Muslims will be wary and careful of them, and be able to distinguish right from wrong.
First characteristic: Youthful with foolish mentalities, as describe by the Prophet peace be upon him, in the Hadeeth of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, he said: “If I narrated a Hadith to you about the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, then I would prefer to fall from the sky rather that lie about him. War is deceit, and I heard the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him say: ‘Around the end of time there will come a group of people, youthful with foolish mentalities’.”(1.)
Ibn Hajar said that the meaning of youths is that they are young in age (2). However, in addition to their young age they also have foolish mentalities, indicating a corrupted, weak, and poor, unappreciative mind. This is evident in their abominable history, when they repeatedly revolted against their governors for trivial reasons, and caused much unnecessary bloodshed and other unaccountable events. Thus, being as foolish and narrow-maddened as they are, they always have a tendency to reject and harass scholars, spreading dishonest rumors and news about them, avoiding any confrontation with them due to their ignorant nature and having ignorant leaders that espouse irrational concepts.
The second characteristic: Their ignorance of the meanings of the Quran, and the lack of understanding of Islam; for they never seem to fathom it despite their constant recitation of the Holy Quran. As described by the Prophet peace be upon him, “They recite the Quran, but it doesn’t reach beyond their throats.”(3) Al-Nawawi said: “It means that some people just gain from the Quran its passage through the tongue, and it doesn’t reach their hearts; wherein one is meant to fathom, understand and reflect.” (4) Their misconception of the Quran is the reason that made them accuse Muslim sinners of hearesy as Ibn Taymiyah said, “… it is a misunderstanding of the Quran, they did not intend to oppose it, but they comprehended what it didn’t indicate and therefore thought that they’re supposed to accuse Muslim sinners of disbelief.” (5).
Therefore, it was their ignorance of the Quran, and what they erroneously derived and applied from the verses regarding disbelievers, as Ibn Umar may Allah be pleased with him, described them : “They look at the verses revealed to the infidels, and applied it to the believers” (6). It was furthermore due to their ignorance of the origins of Sharia and its purposes that the first Khariji objected to the Prophet ‘s division of the spoils, and said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, be just” The Prophet, peace be upon him, said to him: “Woe! if I am not just than who is?” (7 ).
Ibn Taymiyah said: “They are people of worship, devolution, and asceticism, but lack knowledge. So according to them, alms is only for the needy, and to give alms to the obedient and the wealthy is not befitting for anyone but Allah as they claim. Yet that’s due to their ignorance, for alms is in accordance with what is needed and the more it is for Allah the more it’s beneficial to his religion, thus, the better the charity is. A charity needed to establish religion, or to defend against an intruding enemy is greatest than an charity in another case”(8).
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar mentioned that the first words they revolted with were: “No rule but the rule of Allah”, quoting the verses from the Quran, yet applying it with another meaning (9). Also, in the debate that took place between the Kharajites and Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, in the case of adjudication (10) reveals their utter ignorance of the meanings of the Quran, as well as methods of inference derived from it; for they said to him: “You shed the shirt that Allah clothed you with (meaning you abandoned your religion), and the name Allah gave you, and then you judged by the religion of Allah, there is no ruler but Allah.” When Ali heard about what they said, he gave orders that no one enters to debate him except for a man who is knowledgeable in the Quran, and when the house was filled with the reciters of Quran, he called for a great Quran to be put between his hands, and started to turn its pages, and said: “O Quran speak to people!” The people called out and said, “O commander of the Faithful, what are you asking it for, it is just ink and paper, but it is we who speak of what we narrate from it, so what do you want?” He said: “Your companions are those who revolted, the Book of Allah Almighty is our judge, and He says in His book about a woman and a man: ‘If you fear a rift between the them (the man and wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind’ [Annesa: 35]; and Muhammad’s nation is greater in blood and in sanctity than one man and one woman.”
Ali bin Abi Talib said: “They shunned me for writing to Muwawiya saying: ‘And when Suhail bin Amr reached us, when we were with the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, in Al Hudaibia, when he made a pact with his people of Quraysh, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, wrote: “In the name of Allah most Merciful most Gracious…” Sohail said: “Do not write ‘the name of Allah the Merciful’,” the Prophet asked: “How do you write?” He said: write: “O Allah, in thy name.” The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “Write Muhammad the Messenger of Allah,” but he said: “If I knew you were the Messenger of Allah, I wouldn’t have disagreed with you”.” Ali then wrote: This is what made Muhammad bin Abdullah reconcile with Quraysh. Allah says in his book: “Verily in the messenger of Allah you have a good example…” [AlAhzab: 21] (11).
Hafez Ibn Katheer’s testimony is that the Kharajites are ignorant, miserable, and misguided, and he dislikes their actions. He said: “These people are the strangest forms of humans! Glory be to Allah for diversifying humans as he pleased.” Also, the best of what some of the predecessors said about the Kharijites is that they are the ones mentioned in the verse: “Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers by their works? / Those whose effort goes astray in the life of this world, and yet they reckon that they do good work / Those are they who disbelieve in the revelations of their Lord and in the meeting with Him. Therefore, their works are vain, and on the Day of Resurrection We assign no weight to them” [Al kahf :103 -105].
The point is that these ignorant, misguided, and wretched people revolt against Muslims in words and deeds, and erroneously think (due to their lack of knowledge and mentality) that what they’re doing pleases the Lord of the earth and the heavens; yet they have not realized that they are committing one of the deadly sins, a sin their desires seduced them to commit. (12) The first Khariji twisted concepts were transmitted over time to all the other Kharijites. And whoever reads about this sect will soon realize their ignorance and misguidance.
Third characteristic: Argumentation is one of their well known traits, for the overly prolonged and petty debates were exactly the things that prevented them from acknowledging reason, as in the Hadith which says: “No people would have gone astray after having been guided, except that they started controversy.” (13). Ibn al-Mubarad said: “Amongst the Kharijites is a great deal of debates and protests because they have a lot of wordsmiths and preachers…” (14). Thus, the method they chose in their discussion with Ali ibn Abi Talib and Ibn Abbas, emphasizes this negative characteristic in them. Even more, one of their Imams, Nafi’ bin Al Azraq, questioned Ibn Abbas until he showed boredom (15). There is no doubt that the origin of this in the ancient and modern times, is through following their capricious whims along with inadequate consideration and a lack of wisdom (16).
Fourth characteristic: Self admiration, vanity and self-assertion is the reason behind their fanaticized opinions and misguidance. This trait is quite obvious to whoever reads their biographies, when they declined the companions’ advise and orders. It is also demonstrated in the murder of al-Harith Bin Murrah, Ali bin Abi Talib’s messenger, may Allah be pleased with him, as well as other Islamic scholars; and their refusal to hand over the murderers when ordered, saying instead, “We all murdered your brothers, and we allowed your bloodshed and the violation of your wealth.” Qais bin Saad bin Obada preached and warned them, as well as Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, but due to the Kharijites’ arrogance they demanded their companions to refuse them, saying: “Don’t speak to them nor address them” (17).
Hence, when you look at their bizarre argumentative nature, you’ll surely find that they resemble the people of Noah, in their actions and arguments: “And lo! Whenever I call to them that You might pardon them they thrust their fingers in their ears and cover themselves with their garments and persist in their refusal and magnify themselves in pride” [Noah]. Ibn Al Mubarad mentioned in his book ‘Al Kamel’ (18), that they asked Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him: “If Ali is undoubtedly right, then why didn’t he take any of the spoils?” Ibn Abbas replied to them: “You may have heard the answer in the arbitration. As for your argument about the spoils, would you have enslaved Aisha your mother?!” They put their fingers in their ears, and said, “Hold your tongue Ibn Abbas, for its quite argumentative.”
There are a lot of other examples, and perhaps those who follow the course of investigations with the arrested Kharijites nowadays, and the confessions made, would notice in them: that the leaders are keen on scientifically isolating their followers and banning them from listening to other scholars, or reading different books, and in particular the books targeted directly at disclosing their misconceptions and deception. This is only further proof of their awareness of their ignorance and delusions.
Fifth characteristic: Extremism. Whether in worship or in their concepts and beliefs, as noted, their proclaimed piousness is a false devotion as is said: “You kill Al Hussein and now ask for a mosquito’s murderer?!”. Likewise, the Kharijites outward diligence in worship, despite their misguidance, is referred to by the Prophet peace be upon him, when he said describing them: “They read the Qur’an but their reading is not like your reading in anything, and their prayer is not like you prayer in anything, and their fast not like your fast in anything” (19). Ibn Taymiyah said: “There is no doubt that the Kharijites were diligent in worship and piety, even more than the companions, as was mentioned by the Prophet, peace be upon him, but because it was not righteously directed, it led them to misguidance” (20 ). In this state, Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, saw them when he came to debate them, he said: “I came to people who I have never seen as diligent as them; their hands are like a camel’s feet, and their faces are marked with signs of prostration” (21). Therefore, one should not be proud of one’s worship, for as