This paper is written due to necessity to understand the position of the Muslims community (Ummah) as a middle nation. Due to ignorance, some Muslims fall into two extreme positions. On one hand, some Muslims fall into radical understanding of Islam lead to violence things. On the other hand, some Muslims forget his/her identity and fall into the trap of liberal understanding crossing the limit that is set. Looking at the contemporary issue, this paper stresses the importance of discussing the radical view that can be traced back to Khawarij. Furthermore, it will discuss contemporary group that shares the same view with Khawarij. Finally, it will discuss how the mainstream Muslims reject their radical understanding of Islam.
Idea of the Khawarij
As Muslims who seek to follow the straight path, we should firstly understand and recognize what type of methodology (manhaj) leads someone into radical understanding, so that we won’t fall into the trap of extremism. The first group in the history of Islam to be known to bear the extreme position is Khawarij. The Khawarij was developed from extreme political understanding which accused ‘Ali that he committed sin by making mistake, and therefore was not fit to rule. However, this extreme idea did not end here, the Khawarij became more and more extreme in other view of religious understanding as well.
In relation with making sin, not only that the Muslims are not fit to rule, they are in fact become disbeliever. Because, Khawarij associate sin with kufr ‘disbelief in God’. This trend becomes well known as the idea of takfir which is “to stigmatize someone as disbeliever”. And as result of this, the blood of the labelled Muslims becomes halal and permissible to be fought and even killed according to them. Moreover, if you have rejected this idea of “takfir” or basically disagree with them, you may become a disbeliever and can be fought or killed as well even if you are a companion of the Prophet.
The Khawarij may be a group that existed at the past. It won’t traumatize the Muslims in the contemporary era, however the idea of Khawarij will continue until the time near of the Judgment Day. So that, we should understand the Khawarij threat to the Muslims community and stop its radical view. It is clearly stated by the prophet Muhammad (pbuh): “There will come towards the end of time a group of people, young men, they have the most grandiose visions, they are speaking the best speech that you will ever hear of any man. But they will leave Islam like an arrow leaves its prey.”
There are some important points to be derived from the hadith mentioned above; the youth with spirit of reformation could be a potential member, and therefore to understand Islam is important since the early age; they have vision, the youth with his/her dynamism without dealing with reality could be trapped into delusional of dream; they speak outstandingly, yet their behavior is evil.
In the contemporary era, the leading group that bring the flag/idea of Khawarij is the self-claimed “Islamic state” (ISIS). IS, with its narrow-understanding of Islam, self-claims to be the representative of Muslims which is not true. Islam as a religion sent by God is mainly concerns with social justice, but in the contrary IS deals with people in violent action and creates bloodshed and killing. The example of their brutality is the beheading of journalist which has nothing to do with them.
In relation with the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) regarding the idea of Khawarij, the IS has some shared ideas with them. The Khawarij was consisted of non-Muslim scholar such as Bedouin raiders as the majority. Likewise, most of IS members are young foreign Muslims who just learn Islam in short time and deluded with the price of the Garden/ Jannah.
Moreover, there is a statement released by the scholars of Aleppo Front. They stated that IS takfiri ideology is similar with what the Khawarij held:
“Accusations of disbelief (takfīr), their shedding of inviolable blood without a second thought, kidnappings and documented armed robberies of weapons and ammunition from other rebel factions, their refusal to allow the Sharī’ah to arbitrate between them and the other factions and sowing the seeds of discord between fighers. ISIS’ takfīr sometimes extend to the entire population of Syria. This includes takfīr boldly levelled at the Free Syrian Army, accusing Ahraar al-Shaam that they are misguided ‘Surūrīs’ and that al-Nusra Front have defied their alleged ‘Khalīfah’.
Mainstream Muslims Understanding
Khawarij and IS share the common ground with lack of understanding of Islam. They both refused to be judged by the Sharia because their narrow-minded thinking. Ibn Abbas clarified their issue that Sharia has permitted Muslims to make decision making in the realm of human’s issues. Main while, the Aleppo Front stated that IS rejected to accept the arbitration of Sharia in dealing with their issues and other factions.
With regards with takfiri ideology, this was not based on the real theology of Islam. Both, Khawarij and IS believed that the takfiri ideology to be valid in the Islamic theology. However, this was not the position to be found, held by the mainstream Muslims. The majority of opinion stated in the Aqidah at-Tahawi is that someone becomes disbeliever if he/she rejects openly the Oneness of God and the apostleship of Muhammad (pbuh). Or in more severe condition, if someone doesn’t admit his/her sins to be forbidden by Islam.
The ideology of Khawarij will exist until near the Day of Judgment. It has taken root in the actual movement of self-claimed IS that share the same view of radical understanding of Islam. However, the mainstream Muslims with its logical and rational of understanding of the Islamic teaching will be able to refute their fallacy and prevent the layman to join such movement. Further research in the same contemporary group of radical view will help the common Muslims in general to avoid such injustice group who distorted the teaching of Islam.
 Sahih Muslim: Book 005, Number 2328
- (2014) Khawarij: A History of Violence. Muslisms (Online). Available at http://muslisms.com/2014/09/14/khawarij-a-history-of-violence/
Accessed on 16th June 2015, 10:20 am.
- Lost Islamic History. (2014) Who Were the Kharijis. LIH (Online). Available at http://lostislamichistory.com/who-were-the-kharijis/#more-1902
Accessed on 16th June 2015, 11:00 am.
- Islam 21C. (2014) Conclusive Scholarly Opinions on ISIS. Islam 21C (Online). Available at http://www.islam21c.com/politics/conclusive-scholarly-opinions-on-isis/
Accessed on 16th June 2015, 12:30 am.