Monday, 8 October 2018

Reality of the Khawarij (Part 1)


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

وَالْصَّلَاةُ والْسَّلَامُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ الْكَرِيمِ

وَعَلَى اَهْلِ بَيتِهِ الْطَّيِّبِينَ الْطَّاهِرِينَ الْمَظْلُومِينَ

The very first sect in the history of Islam to split off from the Sunna and the Jamaa was the Khawarij. They initially emerged during the caliphate of Mawla Ali (alayhis-salam), raising the slogan لا حكم إلا لله “the rule is only for Allah” based on the Ayah:

إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلّٰهِ

Verily, the command is only for Allah

(Sura 6:57; 12:40; 12:67)

As I shall explain, the Khawarij are present today, and in every era, until the appearance of the Antichrist. Like the Khawarij of Harura (the so-called Muhakkima) the neo-Kharijites of today are animated by the fikr of hakamiyya. In order to identify the Khawarij of our era it is important to memorize and recognize their salient features. The Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) warned his Umma about their splitting up into 73 sects, out of which 72 are misguided innovators that have been threatened with the Hellfire. The single Saved Sect, the people of the Sunna and the Jamaa, are a continuation and reflection of the community of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions (radi Allahu anhum). The Khawarij constitute either one or several of those 72 astray sects. While the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) gave a general warning against all of the astray sects, he was most detailed in describing and warning against the Khawarij specifically. In this entry I shall copy some of those Ahadith and comment on their significance for recognizing the neo-Kharijites of our own era:

The first incident from the lifetime of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) which is key to understanding the Khawarij and their misguidance is the Prophet’s encounter with a man known as Dhul-Khuwaisira  (according to some narrations, he is known as Abd Ullah bin Dhil-Khuwaisira). He was from the tribe of Bani Tamim. This is the same tribe regarding whom the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said, in the well known Hadith of Imran bin Husayn:

يَا أَهْلَ الْيَمَنِ، اقْبَلُوا الْبُشْرَى إِذْ لَمْ يَقْبَلْهَا بَنُو تَمِيمٍ

“O people of Yemen! Accept glad tidings, as Banu Tamim did not accept it”

Historically, many of the Khawarij have been men of the Bani Tamim tribe, as the latter are generally known for their rigidity and narrow-mindedness. They are also concentrated in the region of Najd and in the Arab lands east of Medina. The false “prophetess”, Sajah bint al-Harith, was a Tamimite on her paternal side, and led many of the Tamimites into apostasy in the immediate aftermath of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) death, during the caliphate of sayyidina Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu). An original Kharijite subsect which has survived till today, forming a majority in the modern-day Sultanate of Oman, is the Ibadiyya. The founder of this faction, Abd Allah b. Ibad, was a Tamimite. The founder of the so-called “Wahhabi” movement, Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab, was a Tamimite, and so is his direct descendant, the contemporary “Grand Mufti” of Saudi Arabia, who belongs to the Aal al-Shaykh (term for the house of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, which was granted the religious leadership of Arabia in alliance with the House of Saud, which in turn was granted the political rule according to a historical pact).

Returning to the Prophet’s encounter with Dhul-Khuwaisira, the spiritual progenitor of the Khawarij, the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) encountered him while he was distributing some wealth. Dhul-Khuwaisira felt the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was not being fair in his distribution of this wealth, and so he shouted at him:

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، اتَّقِ اللَّهَ

“O Messenger of Allah, fear Allah!”

And in another version, he said:

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ اعْدِلْ‏

“O Messenger of Allah, be just!”

It is quite ironic that Dhul-Khuwaisira apparently and outwardly affirmed the Risala (apostlehood) of Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), recognizing him as the divinely appointed Prophet of God, yet nonetheless had the audacity to openly and rudely criticize him. The criticism of Dhul-Khuwaisira makes it clear that he made a distinction between Allah and Allah’s Apostle (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), in the sense that he believed Allah’s Apostle (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was at variance with Allah! No doubt, this is the root of the corruption of the creed of the Khawarij and their understanding of Islam. They raise the slogan of Tawhid and the supremacy of Allah and dare to imply that the institution of Risala could at times be at variance with Allah Himself. This is a most illogical and absurd idea, as the Messenger of Allah is directly appointed by Allah Himself to represent Him and deliver His Message to the people. Allahumma not only appoints His Apostle, but also protects him from every kind of deviation and error. If it were possible for Allah’s Apostle to be at variance with Allah, then the very foundation of our Religion would be thrown into doubt and thereby destroyed. This also explains the greater emphasis the Khawarij put on the text of the Qur’an al-Karim, the Word of Allah (or more accurately, their self-made interpretation of the Qur’an) and neglect the Sunna of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam).

According to the narrations, Dhul-Khuwaisira is described as being:

رَجُلٌ غَائِرُ الْعَيْنَيْنِ، مُشْرِفُ الْوَجْنَتَيْنِ، نَاشِزُ الْجَبْهَةِ، كَثُّ اللِّحْيَةِ، مَحْلُوقُ الرَّأْسِ، مُشَمَّرُ الإِزَارِ

“a man with sunken eyes, raised cheek bones, protruding forehead, dense beard, shaved head and tucked up loincloth”

Although it may seem counterintuitive, the physical description of Dhul-Khuwaisira is highly relevant to understanding and recognizing the Khawarij, because, among other reasons, it reveals some facts about their temperment. Dhul-Khuwaisira’s sunken eyes and prominent cheek bones indicates he was a lean man, given to excessive fasting or sparse eating. Nonetheless, his face did not have any Nur, that radiant sparkle or shine that is apparent upon the faces of the righteous Believers. His face was dark and disfigured, and this is something one will notice about the faces of the Khawarij in general. Their asceticism does not beautify them, but only serves to disfigure their appearance further. Dhul-Khuwaisira had a thick, bushy and large beard. The Khawarij are known to place extreme emphasis on the outer appearance while neglecting inner rectification and purification of the soul. They outwardly appear to be men of piety because of their thick and lengthy beards. As I have shown in another article, the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) had a beautiful, dense beard, but it was not excessively long, rather, it was approximately a fistful in length. The Khawarij, however, keep excessively long beards, being unaware of the Sunna and the practice of the Sahaba while adhering to the literal purport of the Hadith without any wisdom or understanding:

وَأَعْفُوا اللِّحَى

“Leave the beard”

The correct understanding of this Hadith is that a man should grow his beard to the point that it can be said to be a beard both linguistically and according to the common custom. It is not a prescription to grow one’s beard excessively long without ever trimming it whatsoever. The latter practice is especially associated with those who follow a Zahiri approach from within the ahl al-Hadith movement. Such individuals prominently stand out from the rest of Muslim society with their excessively long beards reaching down to their bellies. They imagine that this is how all of the Sahaba and the Salaf (radi Allahu anhum) were in regard to their beards, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is in fact one of the minor innovations that is associated with those of the so-called ahl al-Hadith who have a Zahiri approach to the sacred texts, and the Khawarij of our era tend to come out of that stream and approach to Islam. Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhuma) used to trim his beard beyond what was a fistful in length (Sahih al-Bukhari #5892). This is the same companion who is the narrator of the Hadith of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) commanding men to grow their beards. It is a principle of fiqh that the companion who narrates a Hadith is the one whose understanding of it is to be given precedence over any alternative understanding, including a literal reading of that Hadith.

Next, it is mentioned that Dhul-Khuwaisira had a shaven head. This is perhaps the most relevant physical characteristic of the Khawarij, as the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) himself pointed to it and said:

سِيمَاهُمُ التَّحْلِيقُ

“Their sign is the shaving of the head”

(Sahih al-Bukhari #7562)

The Khawarij are young men who continuously and consistently shave their heads. This seems to be a universal and timeless characteristic of theirs, which is discernable even today among the neo-Kharijites. The Khawarij shave their heads out of a false sense of piety, imagining that having enmity with the hair on their head is some means of demonstrating their humility before Allah and an attempt to gain closeness to Him. Again, we see how the Khawarij have invented their own standard of piety in opposition to the Sunna of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), who would not shave his head outside of Hajj or Umra. Shaving or shortening one’s hair as an act of worship is only associate with the rite of pilgrimage, or when a newborn baby’s head is shaven or when a man is newly converted to Islam.  Apart from these specific instances, shaving the head has no religious significance and is not an act of worship. If anyone shaves his head with the intention of showing humility before Allah and as an act of piety outside of the instances I have already outlined, it is another example of a minor innovation that has become firmly associated with the Khawarij and other astray groups such as various Sufi and Shi’ite sects. On the contrary, the Prophet’s (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) custom was to wear his hair long, sometimes reaching down to below his earlobes, and sometimes reaching down to and touching his shoulders. The men of ahl al-Sunna wal-Jamaa may imitate this custom of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) out of love for him, and it will be considered as an act of piety for them upon that intention. As mentioned above, one of the valid reasons for a man to shave his head, especially for religious reasons, is when a disbeliever is newly converted to Islam, as the Prophet instructed such a man:

أَلْقِ عَنْكَ شَعْرَ الْكُفْرِ وَاخْتَتِنْ

“Remove from yourself the hair of disbelief and get circumcised”

(Sunan Abi Dawud #356)

However, this Hadith may possibly refer to the tuft of hair which the Arab pagans used to grow in dedication to one of their idols (even today, some traditional Hindus and especially Brahmins keep a tuft of hair on the top or back of their otherwise shaven heads known as a “sikha”). Nevertheless, it is at least recommended that a new male convert to Islam shave his head completely, while it is mandatory for him to get circumcised if he happens to be uncircumcised.

Next, it is mentioned that Dhul-Khuwaisira had tucked up his izar (loincloth or waist sheet). Again, this shows the tendency of the Khawarij to demonstrate their outward piety by distinguishing themselves from mainstream Muslim society in their dress and appearance. It is true the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) strictly forbade men from dragging their garments below their ankles, as that is a sign of pride. There appears to be some difference of opinion among the Ulama regarding dragging one’s garment below the ankle or isbal if it is not done with the intention of pride. In my view, Muslim males should make utmost effort to ensure that their clothes such as pants and other articles of clothing, do not come below their ankles. However, if at times this cannot be helped and it is not done deliberately, then it is excused and certainly a person cannot be held accountable for it. It is narrated:

عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ، قَالَ كُنَّا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَانْكَسَفَتِ الشَّمْسُ، فَقَامَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَجُرُّ رِدَاءَهُ حَتَّى دَخَلَ الْمَسْجِدَ

Abi Bakra (radi Allahu anhu) said: “We were with the Apostle of Allah (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) when the sun was eclipsed. The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) stood up, dragging his cloak, till he entered the Mosque.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

فَخَرَجَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ فَزِعًا يَجُرُّ رِدَاءَهُ

“Umar bin al-Khattab (radi Allahu anhu) went out in dismay, dragging his cloak”

(Muwatta Malik)

قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ أَحَدَ شِقَّىْ إِزَارِي يَسْتَرْخِي، إِلاَّ أَنْ أَتَعَاهَدَ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ لَسْتَ مِمَّنْ يَصْنَعُهُ خُيَلاَءَ

Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) said, “O Allah’s Messenger! One side of my izar hangs low if I do not take care of it.” The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said, “You are not one of those who do that out of conceit.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari)

Dhul-Khuwaisira, however, had tucked up his loincloth well above his ankles, exposing his calves. The Khawarij, out of a false sense of piety, avoid any kind of beautiful dress. This is true for the neo-Kharijites of today too, despite the fact that Allahumma says:

وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ

And as for the favor of your Lord, inform of it!

(Sura 93:11)

قَالَ رَجُلٌ إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُهُ حَسَنًا وَنَعْلُهُ حَسَنَةً ‏ قَالَ ‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الْجَمَالَ

A man said: “Verily, a man loves that his clothes should be fine and his shoes should be fine” (Allah’s Apostle) said: “Verily, Allah is beautiful and loves beauty”

(Sahih Muslim)

To be continued إن شاء الله

1 comment:

  1. That the Khawarij shave their heads may be an indication of their Takfiri mentality since the Prophet ﷺ instructed newly converted men to Islam to shave their heads. In other words, the Kharijites may shave their head with the understanding that before their adapting of the Kharijite creed and understanding of Islam they were disbelievers.

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