Who Were The Khawarij?
We are pointing out some ahadith from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim regarding the Khawarij, as they were a part of authentic Islamic history. How often is it that we see sects accusing each other of being Khawarij, so we are shedding some light upon this matter.
We have summed up all their characteristics in the end; the readers can go directly to them while we would be narrating the entire hadiths that state from where all this started.
Jabir b. Abdullah reported that a person came to the
Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) at Ja'rana on his way
back from Hunain, and there was in the clothes of Bilal some silver. The
Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) took a handful out of
that and bestowed it upon the people. He (the person who had met the
Prophet at Ja'rana) said to him: Muhammad, do justice. He (the Holy
Prophet) said: Woe be upon thee, who would do justice if I do not do
justice, and you would be very unfortunate and a loser if I do not do
justice. Upon this Umar b. Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said:
Permit me to kill this hypocrite. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said:
May there be protection of Allah! People would say that I kill my
companions. This man and his companions would recite the Qur'an but it
would not go beyond their throat, and they swerve from it just as the
arrow goes through the prey.
In one narration the words are:
A person among the people then sought permission
(from the Holy Prophet) for his murder. According to some, it was Khalid
b. Walid who sought the permission. Upon this the Messenger of Allah
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam), said: From this very person's posterity
there would arise people who would recite the Qur'an, but it would not
go beyond their throat; they would kill the followers of Islam and would
spare the idol-worshippers. They would glance through the teachings of
Islam so hurriedly just as the arrow passes through the pray. If I were
to ever find them I would kill them like 'Ad.
Another narration explains the event:
That man then returned. Khalid b. Walid then said: Messenger of Allah, should I not strike his neck? Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: Perhaps he may be observing the prayer. Khalid said: How many observers of prayer are there who profess with their tongue what is not in their heart? Upon this the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) said: I have not been commanded to pierce through the hearts of people, nor to split their bellies (insides). He again looked at him and he was going back.
Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: There would
arise a people from the progeny of this (man) who would recite the
Qur'an glibly, but it would not go beyond their throats; they would
(hurriedly) pass through (the teachings of their) Deen just as the arrow
passes through the prey. I conceive that he (the Holy Prophet) also said
this: If I find them I would certainly kill them as were killed the
(people of) Thamud.
This narration tells us that it was both of the companions asked the permission.
This hadith has been narrated through another chain
of transmitters and (the narrator) made a mention of elevated forehead,
but he made no mention of tucked-up loin cloth and made this addition:"
There stood up 'Umar b. Khattab (Allah be pleased with him), and said:
Should I not strike his neck? Upon this he said: No. Then he turned
away, and Khalid the Sword of Allah stood up against him, and said:
Prophet of Allah. Shall I not strike off his neck? He said, No, and then
said: A people would rise from his progeny who would recite the Book of
Allah glibly and fluently. 'Umar said: I think he (the Holy Prophet)
also said this: If I find them I would certainly kill them like Thamud."
Other narrations regarding the Khawarij state that
the Prophet SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam said: There would arise in
this nation a people and you would hold insignificant your prayers as
compared with their prayers. And they would recite the Qur'an which
would not go beyond their throats and would swerve through the Deen (as
blank) just as an (swift) arrow passes through the prey. The archer
looks at his arrow, at its iron head and glances at its end (which he
held) in the tip of his fingers to see whether it had any stain of
The Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam)
said: Leave him, for he has friends that everyone among you would
consider his prayer insignificant as compared with their prayer, and his
fast as compared with their fasts. They would recite the Qur'an but it
would not go beyond their collarbones. They would pass through (the
teachings of Islam so hurriedly) just as the arrow passes through the
prey. He would look at its Iron head, but would not find anything
ticking) there. He would then see at the lowest end, but would not find
anything sticking there. He would then see at its grip but would not
find anything sticking to it. He would then see at its feathers and he
would find nothing sticking to them (as the arrow would pass so quickly
that nothing would stick to it) neither excrement nor blood. They would
be recognized by the presence of a black man among them whose upper arms
would be like a woman's breast, or like a piece of meat as it quivers,
and they would com! e forth at the time when there is dissension among
the people. Abu Sa'id said: I testify to the fact that I heard it from
the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam), and I testify to
the fact that 'Ali b. Abu Talib fought against them and I was with him.
He gave orders about that man who was sought for, and when he was
brought in, and when I looked at him, he was exactly as the Messenger of
Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) had described him.
Narrated Yusair bin 'Amr:
I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, "Did you hear the Prophet
saying anything about Al-Khawarij?" He said, "I heard him saying while
pointing his hand towards Iraq. "There will appear in it (i.e. Iraq)
some people who will recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their
throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts
through the game's body.'
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) made a mention of a sect that would be
among his Ummah which would emerge out of the dissension of the people.
Their distinctive mark would be shaven heads. They would be the worst
creatures or the worst of the creatures. The group who would be nearer
to the truth out of the two would kill them. The Messenger of Allah
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) gave an example (to give their
description) or he said: A man throws an arrow at the prey (or he said
at the target), and sees at its iron head, but finds no sign (of blood
there), or he sees at the lowest end, but would not see or find any sign
(of blood there). He would then see into the grip but would not find
(anything) sticking to it. Abu Sa'id then said: People of Iraq. It is
you who have killed them.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of
Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) said: A group would secede itself
(from the Ummah) when there would be dissension among the Muslims. Out
of the two groups who would be nearer the truth would kill them.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) as saying: There would be two groups in
my Ummah, and there would emerge another group (seceding itself from
both of them), and the party nearer to the truth among the two would
kill them (the group of the Khawarij).
'Ali said: I heard the Messenger of Allah
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) as saying: There would arise at the end
of the age a people who would be young in age and immature in thought,
but they would talk (in such a manner) as if their words are the best
among the creatures. They would recite the Qur'an, but it would not go
beyond their throats, and they would pass through the Deen as an arrow
goes through the prey. So when you meet them, kill them, for in their
killing you would get a reward with Allah on the Day of Judgment.
Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: 0 people, I
heard the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) say: There
would arise from my Ummah a people who would recite the Qur'an, and your
recital would seem insignificant as compared with their recital, your
prayer as compared with their prayer, arid your fast, as compared with
their fast. They would recite the Qur'an thinking that it supports them,
whereas it is evidence against them. Their prayer does not get beyond
their collarbone; they would swerve through Islam just as the arrow
passes through the prey. If the squadron which is to encounter them were
to know (what great boon) has been assured to them by their Messenger
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) they would completely rely upon this deed
(alone and cease to do other good deeds), and their (that of the
Khawarij) distinctive mark is that there would be (among them) a person
whose wrist would be without the arm, and the end of his wrist would be
fleshy like the! nipple of the breast on which there would be white
hair. You would be marching towards Muawiya and the people of Syria and
you would leave them behind among your children and your property (to do
harm). By Allah, I believe that these are the people (against whom you
have been commanded to fight and get reward) for they have shed
forbidden blood, and raided the animals of the people. So go forth in
the name of Allah (to fight against them). Salama b. Kuhail mentioned
that Zaid b. Wahb made me alight at every stage, till we crossed a
bridge. 'Abdullah b. Wahb al-Rasibi was at the head of the Khawarij when
we encountered them. He ('Abdullah) said to his army: Throw the spears
and draw out your swords from their sheaths, for I fear that they would
attack you as they attacked you on the day of Harura. They went back and
threw their spears and drew out their swords, and people fought against
them with spears and they were killed one after another. Only two
persons were killed among the ! people (among the army led by Hadrat
'Ali) on that day. 'Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: Find out from
among them (the dead bodies of the Khawarij) (the maimed). They searched
but did not find him. 'Ali (Allah be pleased with him) then himself
stood up and (walked) till he came to the people who had been killed one
after another. He ('Ali) said: Search them to the last, and then ('Ali's
companions) found him (the dead body of the maimed) near the earth. He
(Hadrat 'Ali) then pronounced Allah-O-Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and
then said, Allah told the Truth and His Messenger
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) conveyed it. Then there stood before him
'Abida Salmani who said: Commander of the Believers, by Allah, besides
whom there is no god but He, (tell me) whether you heard this hadith
from the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam). He said:
Yes, by Allah, besides whom there is no god but He. He asked him to take
an oath thrice and he took the oath.
'Ubaidullah b. Abu Rafi', the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam), said: When Haruriya (The Khawarij) set out and as he was with 'Ali b. Abu Talib (Allah be pleased with him) they said," There is no command but that of Allah."
Upon this 'Ali said: The statement is true but it is
intentionally applied (to support) a wrong (cause). The Messenger of
Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam described their characteristics and
I found these characteristics in them. They state the truth with their
tongue, but it does not go beyond this part of their bodies (and the
narrator pointed towards his throat). The most hateful among the
creation of Allah is one black man among them (Khawarij). One of his
hand is like the teat of a goat or the nipple of the breast. When 'Ali
b. Abu Talib (Allah be pleased with him) killed them, he said: Search
(for his dead body). They searched for him, but they did not find it
(his dead body). Upon this he said: Go (and search for him). By Allah,
neither I have spoken a lie nor has the lie been spoken to me. 'Ali said
this twice and thrice. They then found him (the dead body) in a rain.
They brought (his dead) body till they placed it before him (Ali).
'Ubaidullah said: And, I wa! s present at (that place) when this
happened and when 'Ali said about them. A person narrated to me from Ibn
Hanain that he said: I saw that black man.
Sahl b. Hunaif reported Allah's Messenger
(SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) as saying: There would arise from the
east a people with shaven heads.
Lets sum up all the hadiths:
They would recite the Quran but it won't go down their throats.
They will exit the Deen like an arrow does from the prey.
Their Salat and fasting would seem better then others.
They would talk (in such a manner) as if their words are the best among the creatures.
They would have shaven heads.
They will appear from the east.
Amongst the Khawarij there would be a black man whose shoulder will be like that of a woman's breast.
The Khawarij raised this slogan, There is no command but that of Allah, which was correct but used for a wrong cause.
Ali (may Allah be pleased be with them) fought the Khawarij and killed them.
Killing the Khawarij would be rewarded on the day of judgment.
Abdullah b. Wahb al-Rasibi was at the head of the Khawarij when they fought the Muslimeen.
The Khawarij would emerge when the there is dissension amongst the Muslimeen.
What admonition do we receive from all of this?
That we shouldn't try to be more pious then our
Prophet SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam, we should have blind faith on him,
that no matter how pious someone might seem we should only take proof
from Quran and Sunnah, and that mere raising of correct slogans doesn't
mean someone is on the right path.
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