Khawarij (the Kharijites) and their identities

Khawarij (the Kharijites)

The first misguided group to emerge in Islam was Khawarij (the Kharijites community). Many scholars think that Kharijites appeared in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), but it was at the individual level. Later, in the era of Ali (RA), they appeared openly as a group. They are the worst creatures in the world. They used to recite the Book of Allah, the Qur’an, but they did not have the correct knowledge of the Book of Allah. And they used to talk about Iman (faith) in their mouths, but there was no faith in their hearts.

So I will present to you some valuable information about them which will help you to know a lot about them. And I will not neglect to bring information from reliable books for every subject; Insha Allah. So let’s first know their identities.

Who are Khawarij (the Kharijites community)?

Regarding their identity, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Rh) has mentioned in his book that, Khawarij (the Kharijites community) are those who have denied the appointment of the arbitrator of Ali (RA) and have severed ties with him and with ‘Uthman (RA) and his offspring. And those who fought against them (i.e., against Uthman, Ali, and many wise old Companions of Allah’s Messenger). [Fath al-Bari, volume 1, page 459]

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (Rh) has made their identities more clear and said:

Definition of Khawarij

Khawarij (the Kharijites community) are the people who were the first to declare Muslims disbelievers. They used to call other people disbelievers for sins. They also considered disbelievers those who opposed their innovations and they thought others’ blood and wealth were lawful. [Majmoo’ Al-fataawa, volume 3, page 279] 

When had Khawarij (the Kharijites community) appeared?

They existed in the time of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). But they kept themselves secret. At that time, their number was very low. In this regard,

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (RA)Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) sent a piece of gold not yet taken out of its ore, in a tanned leather container to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) distributed that amongst four Persons: ‘Uyaina bin Badr (RA), Aqra bin Habis (RA), Zaid Al-Khail (RA), and the fourth was either Alqama (RA) or Amir bin at-Tufail (RA). On that, one of his companions said, ‘We are more deserving of this (gold) than these (persons).’ When that news reached the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said, “Don’t you trust me though I am the truth worthy man of the One in the Heavens, and I receive the news of Heaven (i.e. Divine Inspiration) both in the morning and in the evening?”

There got up a man with sunken eyes, raised cheekbones, raised forehead, a thick beard, a shaven head, and a waist sheet that was tucked up and he said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)! Be afraid of Allah.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Woe to you! Am I not of all the people of the earth the most entitled to fear Allah?” Then that man went away. Khalid bin Al-Walid (RA) said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)! Shall I chop his neck off?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No, for he may offer prayers (Salah).”

Khalid (RA) said,

‘Numerous are those who offer prayers and say by their tongues (i.e. mouths) what is not in their hearts.’ Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “I have not been ordered (by Allah) to search the hearts of the people or cut open their bellies.” Then the Prophet looked at him (i.e. that man) while the latter was going away and said, “From the offspring of this (man) there will come out (people) who will recite the Qur’an continuously and elegantly but it will not exceed their throats. (They will neither understand it nor act upon it). They would go out of the religion (i.e. Islam) as an arrow goes through a hunting body.” I think he (peace be upon him) also said, “If I should be present at their time, I would kill them as the nations of Thamud were killed.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 4351]

Their spreading

After the death of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) secretly they gradually began to spread. They were scattered in different cities. In the age of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger, they used to express themselves as enjoiners of good deeds and forbidders of evil deeds. Later they came to Medina and killed ‘Uthman (RA). They opposed Ali (RA) and separated from his army. In this connection, Imam Ibn Kathir (Rh) has mentioned in his book that,

“While the people were returning to their homeland from the battle of Siffin, Muawiyah (RA) left for Damascus with his companions. Ali (RA) started going to Kufa city. When he reached the city of Kufa, he heard a man say that Ali had gone to war, and he came back empty-handed. Then Ali (RA) said, Those from whom we are separated are better than these. Then he entered the palace of Kufr to remember the name of Allah Ta’ala. When he approached near to enter the city of Kufa, then about 12,000 men separated from his army. And they were Khawarij. They refused to stay with Ali (RA) in his city, and they moved to a place called Harura. They objected to some things about Ali (RA) that they thought Ali (RA) had performed those things.

So Ali (RA) sent Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) to them to dispel their doubts and misconceptions. Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) discussed with them, debated, and gave correct answers to their unreasonable doubts and misconceptions. Then most of them came back from their erroneous thoughts and doubts. And the rest of the people persisted in their wrong thoughts and erroneous ideology. Then Ali (RA) and his companions fought against the rest of the people (because they oppressed, robbed, and killed many Muslims unjustly).” [Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya, volume 7, page 278]

Aqidah (Creed) of the Kharijites community

They are divided into different groups. So each group has a different Aqidah. So I am just mentioning some of the basic Aqidah of the Khawarij.

(1) Regarding the sinner who commits a major sin, they think that whoever commits a major sin is a disbeliever. Those who sin and die without repentance will be in Hell forever. Every major sin is Kufr.

(2) Regarding the rulers and the judiciary, they think that it is not lawful for a Muslim ruler to stay in ruling power if he does not follow their principles or if he commits injustice and oppression. It is not permissible to obey such a ruler. It is obligatory to engage in an armed war against him. If a Muslim judge does not judge according to the law of Allah, then he will become a disbeliever. It is permissible to kill him if he does not repent.

(3) Some of them think that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) added many things to the Qur’an on his behalf. Surah Yusuf is not included in the Quran. The previous Prophets also committed Kufr.  

(4) They think that the companions of Allah’s Messenger have also disbelieved. They consider Othman (RA) a disbeliever and an apostate, and they praise his killers. And they declare all the companions of Allah’s Messenger who supported appointing arbitrators as disbelievers and apostates. Verily, they think that Ali (RA), Mu’awiyah (RA), Amr ibn al-As (RA), and Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (RA) are disbelievers too. 

(5) They think that those who commit major sins will not get intercession on behalf of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) in the Hereafter. Intercession will be for the pious only. They also think that one who will be thrown into Hell will be there forever.


(6) Of course, they think that If any one of those who were part of their group left the group, then he is a disbeliever. And those who oppose them are disbelievers.

They think that at present, the words of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) have no existence. And the words of Allah’s Messenger cannot be accepted even if they exist. Only Allah’s words will be accepted. (This Aqidah has been found after research.)

You can read the book Al-Khawarij for more details. The author of the book is Dr. Nasir bin Abdul Karim Al-Aql. Insha Allah, this book will be helpful to everyone. 

What did Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) say about Khawarij?

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) has said many things about Khawarij. So I am mentioning some hadith about them.

Ali (RA) said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) saying, “In the last days of this world there will appear some young foolish people who will use (in their claim) the best speech of all people (i.e. the Qur’an) and they will abandon Islam as an arrow going through the hunting. Their belief will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have practically no belief), so wherever you meet them, kill them, for he who kills them shall get a reward on the Day of Resurrection.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 3611]

Narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (RA) and Anas ibn Malik (RA), The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Soon there will appear disagreement and dissension in my Ummah; there will be people who will be good in speech and bad in work. They recite the Qur’an, but it does not pass their collarbones. And they will go away from the religion (Islam) as an arrow goes away from hunting. They will not return to it till the arrow comes back to its notch. And they are the worst of people and animals.

Happy is

the one who kills them and they kill him. They call to the book of Allah, but they have nothing to do with it. He who fights against them will be nearer to Allah than them (the rest of the people).” The people asked: What is their sign? He (peace be upon him) replied: “They shave the head.” [Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith No. 4765]

Abu Ghalib (Rh) narrated that Abu Umamah (RA) said: “Those (Khawarij) are the worst of the slain who are killed under Sky, and the best of the slain are those who were killed by them. Those (Khawarij) are the dogs of Hell. Those people were Muslims but they became disbelievers.” So I said: O Abu Umamah, is that your opinion? He said: “Rather I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith No. 176]

Our Dua

Allah Ta’ala gives us the grace to follow His Book Al-Quran and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him) correctly and to keep ourselves and our families away from the misguided group. Ameen.


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