بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَالْصَّلَاةُ والْسَّلَامُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ الْكَرِيمِ
وَعَلَى اَهْلِ بَيتِهِ الْطَّيِّبِينَ الْطَّاهِرِينَ الْمَظْلُومِينَ
In the third installment of this series on the deviant Khawarij sect, we shall examine what remains to be examined of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) encounter with Dhu al-Khuwaisira. Recall that Dhu al-Khuwaisira objected to the Prophet’s distribution of some gold that the Muslims had obtained under the command of sayyidina Ali bin Abi Talib (radi Allahu anhu) in Yemen. Dhu al-Khuwaisira rebuked the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) with the words “be just!”, indicating the apparent concern for justice and fairness as one of the primary motivations of the Khawarij. It should be clarified here that the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) would seek to win the hearts of various tribes and their chieftains that were new to Islam and solidify their commitment to their new Faith, or seek to incline them to Islam, by distributing wealth among them. His aim was to soften their hearts hoping that gradually their Faith would increase and through their support Islam would spread further. The neo-Kharijites of our own time, like Dhu al-Khuwaisira and the original Khawarij, raise slogans demanding justice, especially economic justice and social justice. It is ultimately due to the injustice or perceived injustice of the modern-day Muslim rulers that the neo-Kharijites make blanket takfir of them, and then proceed to the next step of justifying armed revolt and even terrorism against the state which they regard as “apostate”. The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said:
يَكُونُ بَعْدِي أَئِمَّةٌ لاَ يَهْتَدُونَ بِهُدَاىَ وَلاَ يَسْتَنُّونَ بِسُنَّتِي وَسَيَقُومُ فِيهِمْ رِجَالٌ قُلُوبُهُمْ قُلُوبُ الشَّيَاطِينِ فِي جُثْمَانِ إِنْسٍ . قَالَ قُلْتُ كَيْفَ أَصْنَعُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنْ أَدْرَكْتُ ذَلِكَ قَالَ تَسْمَعُ وَتُطِيعُ لِلأَمِيرِ وَإِنْ ضُرِبَ ظَهْرُكَ وَأُخِذَ مَالُكَ فَاسْمَعْ وَأَطِعْ
“There shall be, after me, leaders who are not guided by my guidance nor follow my Sunna. Among them shall be men whose hearts are the hearts of devils in human bodies.” (Hudaifa b. al-Yaman) said: “What should I do, O Apostle of Allah, if I reach that (time)?” He said: “Hear and obey the Amir, even if he flogs your back and takes your wealth, hear and obey!” (Sahih Muslim)
The Khawarij hate and resent this Hadith, because the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) has explicitly commanded his Umma to obey the ruler, even if that ruler has the heart of a devil, doesn’t follow the Prophet’s Sunna and guidance, oppressively beats the people and unjustly takes their wealth. The original Khawarij and rebels were not even satisfied with the caliphates and rule of the likes of sayyidina Uthman and sayyidina Ali (radi Allahu anhuma), against whom they not only rebelled but assassinated too. They tend to consider the Hadith quoted above and others like it commanding obedience to the ruler even if he is oppressive and unjust, as being Umayyad and Abbasid fabrications. According to this narrative, various oppressive and indulgent dynastic rulers encouraged and bribed the religious leaders of their time to fabricate such Ahadith and attribute them to the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) in order to prevent the Muslims from participating in armed revolts and rebellions against their rule. But the neo-Kharijites of today, who are upon the same fikr and mindset of the original Khawarij, outwardly claim to be from ahl us-Sunna wal-Jamaa, and therefore acknowledge the authentic Ahadith compiled by the Sunni muhaddithin like Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal in his Musnad or the likes of Muhammad b. Isma’il al-Bukhari, Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Nishapuri, Abi Dawud al-Sijistani, Abu Isa al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad b. Shu’ayb al-Nasa’i, Ibn Maja al-Qazwini, etc., in their respective collections of Hadith.
Returning to the Prophet’s (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) encounter with Dhu al-Khuwaisira, when the latter turned his back and went away, the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said:
إِنَّ مِنْ ضِئْضِئِ هَذَا قَوْمًا يَقْرَءُونَ الْقُرْآنَ لاَ يُجَاوِزُ حَنَاجِرَهُمْ، يَمْرُقُونَ مِنَ الإِسْلاَمِ مُرُوقَ السَّهْمِ مِنَ الرَّمِيَّةِ، يَقْتُلُونَ أَهْلَ الإِسْلاَمِ وَيَدَعُونَ أَهْلَ الأَوْثَانِ، لَئِنْ أَدْرَكْتُهُمْ لأَقْتُلَنَّهُمْ قَتْلَ عَادٍ
“Out of the offspring of this man, there will be people who will recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out through the game, and they will kill the Muslims and leave the idolators. Should I live till they appear, I would kill them as the killing of the nation of Aad.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
In the narrations present in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) is reported to have said that if he were to reach their time, he would slaughter them like the slaughtering of Thamud. These narrations mention several features of the Khawarij: 1. They recite the Quran, and according to other versions fo the Hadith:
يَتْلُونَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ رَطْبًا
“They recite the Book of Allah elegantly”, but it does not go beyond their throat, meaning they do not understand it nor does it truly penetrate their hearts and minds, 2. They go through the Religion of Islam like how an arrow goes in and out of its target, 3. They kill the Muslims but not the mushrikin (polytheists, pagans or idolaters). These are the three primary and universal characteristics of the Khawarij through which we can recognize them.
The original Khawarij were in fact the Qurra (Quran-readers) of Iraq, who were present in large numbers in the camp of sayyidina Ali (radi Allahu anhu). They were people known for their devotion to the reading and recitation of the Quran. The intellectuals and thinkers of the neo-Kharijite tendency likewise were rigorous readers and exegetes of the Quran. Both Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb wrote literary commentaries of the Quran, while largely neglecting the Prophet’s Sunna and Hadith. And despite their emphasis on the Quran, both these individuals ultimately could not understand its actual narrative. They only manipulated the text of the Quran in an attempt to force a meaning onto it that was in accord with their preconceived political ideas which they had acquired under the influence of Marxism and other Western, materialist and modernist philosophies.
The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said that the Khawarij go through the Religion like how an arrow goes through the game, meaning, they enter the Religion superficially but exit it rapidly, having neither true understanding or nurturing upon the Religion of Islam. It is observed that many of the modern-day neo-Kharijites who are quick to join various terrorist factions, most notably, “Islamic State” (ISIL/Daesh), are youths who have no prior tarbiya (nurturing and training) upon Islam. They are usually former criminals and thugs who have superficially adapted Islam only as a means to continue the same lifestyle of violence and thuggery but this time with a supposed “higher” purpose. The original Khawarij appeared almost immediately after the Prophet’s death, but there was not a single Sahabi among them. They did not have the privilege of having been nurtured and trained through companionship with the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), and hence lacked true understanding of the Religion, or appreciation of its actual temperment and objectives.
The third charactertistic of the Khawarij, and perhaps the one which is easiest for recognizing the neo-Kharijites of today, is their killing of the Muslims while leaving alone the mushrikin. Historically, the Khawarij did not engage in fighting with the exterior foes of Islam, such as the Romans. From the very beginning, the Khawarij drew their swords against the Muslims themselves. They murdered Abd Allah b. Khabbab, his wife, and her unborn child. It was only after this totally cold blooded murder of an innocent Muslim family that Amir ul-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi Talib (radi Allahu anhu) was forced to deal with these Kharijite renegades and virtually wiped them out in the famous battle of Nahrawan. Subsequently, various Kharijite factions emerged, the most notorious being the Azariqa, who indiscriminately went about killing the Muslims, while never once raising their sword against the non-Muslims and polytheists. In our own time, the neo-Kharijites like Daesh primarily target Sunni Muslims whom they brand as apostates. In Syria, they went after various Sunni Muslim factions that were in revolt against the neo-fascist, Baathist regime of Assad and in Afghanistan, they turned their weapons on the Taliban, who were busy resisting the American occupation of their country. One would think that these neo-Kharijites who sanction their raising of arms in the name of Jihad would at the very least focus their efforts on fighting the foreign, non-Muslim invaders. Instead, their first target is always the Muslims whom they brand as apostates merely for not joining their ranks. The neo-Kharijites justify this by saying that the murtad (apostate) is worse than the original disbeliever, but it comes down to the fact that they essentially regard any Muslim who doesn’t agree with them as an apostate, and in this way they fulfil the Prophet’s prediction against them without even realizing it!
To be continued إن شاء الله