THE DEFINITION OF A KHARIJITE
KHARIJITE. Before examining the signs, beliefs and doctrines of the Kharijites, let us cite some of the definitions that the classical scholars have given for them. Imam Muhammad b. Abd al-Karim al-Shahrastani said in his famous book of heresiology, al-Milal wa al-nihal:
Anyone who revolts against the Muslim government that enjoys the support of the community [jama,a] is called a Kharijite whether this revolt was against the Rightly Guided Caliphs during the time of the Companions or against those after them who followed them with excellence [the second generation, al-Tabi,in], or the Muslim rulers of every subsequent era
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 [jama,a] 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.
Elsewhere he stated:
And these Kharijites are not only the armed group that was known in history [during the caliphate of Ali (RA)]; rather, they are the ones who will appear time and time again until the time of the Anti-Christ [al-Dajjal]. The Prophet’s particular mention of the group that appeared during the time of Ali bin. Abi Talib was due to the many traits found in them. Anyone in whom these traits are found is counted amongst them, for the particular mention of them [by the Prophet ﷺ] was not because the ruling applied to them alone, but rather it was because those who were addressed during the Prophet’s time ﷺ needed to fix their identity in the times to come.
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’.
Imam Badr al-Din al-Ayni commented:
‘They are a faction that has left the religion, and they are a group of blameworthy innovators. They are called that because they rebelled 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.
This is a basic outline and definition of the Kharijites. Next we will review the Quranic exegeses, hadith commentaries and other sources to know the meanings of the Quranic verses and prophetic hadith that condemn the atrocities and terrorism committed by the Kharijites against Muslims and non-Muslims.
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