Kharijites, Khawarij

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The Kharijites, or Khawarij, began as a group of ˓Ali's supporters who "exited" (kharaju) after the battle of Siffin (657 c.e.), when ˓Ali accepted arbitration (tahkim) with Mu˓awiya (r. 661–680). The "exiters" (khawarij) opposed a human tribunal in place of a battle victory decided by God's judgment, hence their slogan, "Judgment belongs to God alone," echoing Qur an 6:57, 12:40, and 12:67. They subsequently identified themselves as "exchangers" (shurat) for God's pleasure, as in Qur˒anic verse 2:207. Both militant activists and quietists used the exchange concept in their rhetoric, including their highly esteemed poetry. In opposition to the dynastic nature of the Umayyads, they purported to choose leaders by religious merit rather than by heritage. Considering themselves true Muslims, they developed rigid standards for proving one's faith and for what is permissible in Islam, which led to a variety of practices and consequent divisions. Militant groups attacked towns, engaging Umayyad generals al-Hajjaj and al-Muhallab for decades. Major leaders included the activists Nafi b. al-Azraq al-Hanafi, Qatari b. al-Fuja˒a, and Shabib b.Yazid al-Shaybani, and quietists Najda b. ˓Amir al-Hanafi, and ˓Abdallah b. Ibad al-Tamim. "Sufriyya" is a general term used for quietists. Many quietists took up arms after the Umayyad's brutal massacre of Abu Bilal Mirdas b. Hudayr b. Udayya and his men while praying, in 680. Women were involved militarily and culturally. The Khawarij/Shurat were found variously in Arabia, Iraq, and Iran until largely eradicated at the end of the Umayyad period (750). A branch of Kharijites known as the Ibadis persevered and are found today in Oman and North Africa.

See alsoLawl .


Madelung, Wilfred. "Kharijism: The ˓Ajarida and the Ibadiyya." In Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran. Albany, N.Y.: Bibliotheca Persica, 1988.

Mubarrad, Abu l-˓Abbas Muhammad b.Yazid. Al-Kamil fi llugha wa-l-adab. Edited by Muhammad Abu al-Fadl Ibrahm. 4 vols. Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-'Arabi, n.d.

Shahrastani, Abu al-Fath Muhammad b. ˓Abd al-Karim. Al-Milal wa-l-nihal. Edited by Muhammad Sayyid Kilani. (1396.) Reprint. Cairo: Maktabat wa-Matba˓at Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, 1976.

Annie C. Higgins