The New Kharijism

It was said that “barefoot and naked,” “deaf and dumb” are their attributes by way of hyperbole, showing how coarse they are. That is, they did not use their hearing or sight in anything concerning their Religion even though they are of perfectly sound senses. The Prophet’s words : “The heads of the people” means the kings of the earth. Abu Farwa’s narration names the kings explicitly. What is meant by them is the people of the desert country, as was made explicit in Sulayman al-Taymi’s and other narrations: “Who are the barefoot and naked?” He answered: “The Bedouin Arabs.” Al-Tabarani relates through Abu Hamza, on the authority of Ibn `Abbas from the Prophet , that “one of the signs of the change of the Religion is the affectation of eloquence by the rabble and their betaking to palaces in big cities.” Al-Qurtubi said: “What is meant here is the prediction of a reversal in society whereby the people of the desert country will take over the conduct of affairs and rule every region by force. They will become extremely rich and their primary concern will be to erect tall buildings and take pride in them. We have witnessed this in our time as well as the import of the hadith: ‘The Hour will not rise until the happiest man will be the depraved son of a depraved father (lukka` ibn lukka`),’ and ‘if the leadership is entrusted to those unfit for it, expect the Hour,’ both in the authentic collections.”

As a consequence of this reversal of values in the perfect society which true Islam is designed to create, we now see wars of exclusion being waged everywhere in the name of Islam – doctrinal, political, and physical wars. For violence is the most harmful legacy of this school to society while skepticism is its legacy to the individual.

These two phenomena: depraved leadership and exclusionism, are therefore the mainstays of New Kharijism in our time. What clearer proof of this than what took place in Makka on November 20, 1979, when hundreds of armed men seized the Mosque under the 36-year old Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-`Utaybi and proclaimed him as the new leader of the country. They held it for two weeks during which they practiced worse than zinâ with the women they held captive and those they had brought with them! The New York Times wrote, “There were hundreds of casualties on both sides before Saudi forces were able to drag out the last remnant of what by then was a bunch of filthy, bedraggled young men.” Al-`Utaybi and sixty-three of the captured were later executed by public beheading without any protest from anyone. Who taught these wild young people their ways? As Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i said, addressing the followers of Ibn Baz: “Your teacher was [their] teacher.”

But before we speak of the modern phenomenon of New Kharijism it is important to define the principal constituents of Khariji doctrines.

The sect of the Kharijis or Khawârij lived in the time of the Successors of the Companions. They were a large group of several tens of thousands of Muslims comprising mostly Qur’an memorizers and devoted worshippers who prayed and fasted above the norm. They declared the totality of the Companions of the Prophet and whoever of the Muslims were with them to be apostate disbelievers and took up arms against them. Consequently, some of the `Ulama of Ahl al-Sunna argued that the Khawarij themselves had left Islam for committing such acts.

Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi said in the beginning of his al-Farq Bayn al-Firaq (p. 11):

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