The Khawarij are subdivided into fifteen distinct sects:
1. The Najadat, whose name can be traced to Najda ibn `Amir al-Hanafi, [one-time conqueror of the Arabian province] of al-Yamama. They are the followers of`’Abdullah ibn Nasir. They propounded the doctrine that if a person tells a lie or commits a minor sin, and makes a habit of it, he must be considered a polytheist [mushrik], although a person can still be considered a Muslim even if he commits adultery or fornication, steals, and drinks wine, as long as he does not persist in these offenses. They also maintained that there is no need for an Imam, since what is necessary is knowledge of the Book of Allah, and that alone is quite sufficient.
2. The Azariqa, so called because they are the followers of Naf`’ ibn al-Azraq. They maintained that every major sin is tantamount to unbelief [kufr], that the residence of the Caliph is the residence of unbelief, and that Abu Musa and `Amr ibn al-`As (may Allah be well pleased with them both) were guilty of not believing in Allah, when `Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) appointed them to arbitrate between himself and Mu`awiya (may Allah be well pleased with him) for the sake of giving consideration to the best interests of the community at large.
The Azariqa also consider it permissible to kill young children, meaning the offspring of those who attribute partners to Allah [awlad al-mushrikin]. They regard as unlawful [the punishment of a convicted adulterer by] stoning to death [rajm]. They do not impose the legal penalty [of eighty lashes] on a person guilty of slandering a respectable male [qadhif al-muhsan], although they do impose that penalty on one who is guilty of slandering a respectable female [qadhif al-muhsana].
3. The Fudakiyya, historically related to Ibn Fudaik.
4. The `Atawiyya, who can be traced back to `Atiyya ibn al-Aswad.
5. The `Ajarida, historically related to `Abd ar-Rahman ibn `Ajrad. They actually represent a composite grouping of many subsects, collectively known as the Maimuniyya. They consider it permissible for a man to marry the daughters of his sons and the daughters of his daughters, as well as the daughters of his brothers and the daughters of his sisters. They also maintain that the chapter entitled “Joseph” [Surat Yusuf] is not really part of the Qur’an.
6. The Jazimiyya. Peculiar to this sect is the doctrine that friendliness [walaya] and hostility [`adawa] are a pair of attributes applicable to His Essence (Exalted is He). The Jazimiyya can otherwise be regarded as a branch of the Ma`lumiyya, since they maintain that anyone who does not know Allah by His Names is an ignorant person. They refuse to accept the doctrine that actions [af `al] belong to Allah (Exalted is He) in terms of creation, and that the ability to act is brought into being simultaneously with the action itself [al-istita`a ma’`’l-fi`l].
7. The Majhuliyya, who constitute one of the fifteen basic groups [of the Khawarij]. They are proponents of the doctrine that if someone knows Allah by at least some of His Names, he is to be considered as having knowledge [`alim] of Him, not as a totally ignorant person [jahil].
8. The Saltiyya, who are historically related to `Uthman ibn as-Salt. They maintain that if a person has an infant child at the time when he responds to our call and embraces Islam, that child cannot be regarded as a Muslim until he reaches the age of puberty, at which time he must be invited to enter Islam and must accept the invitation on his own behalf.
9. The Akhnasiyya, who trace the origin of their name to a man called al-Akhnas. They hold the opinion that the slave-owner may take for himself part of the alms [zakat] due to his slave, and pass on to him only part of his alms, if he [the slave-owner] is needy and impoverished.
10. The Zafariyya.
11. The Hafsiyya, a sectarian group [ta’ifa] that branched off from the Zafariyya. They maintain that as long as a person acknowledges Allah, he cannot be considered guilty of polytheism or idolatry [shirk], even if he does not believe in anything else in the religion apart from Him, such as a Messenger [Rasul], a Garden of Paradise and a Fire of Hell, even if he perpetrates all the most heinous crimes, such as homicide, and even if he regards it as lawful to commit adultery and fornication [zina]. According to them, a person can be considered guilty of shirk only if he is ignorant of Allah and refuses to recognize His existence, and on no other grounds at all.
They also maintain that the “one lured to bewilderment [hairan],” who is mentioned by Allah (Exalted is He) in the Qur’an, is none other than `Ali, along with his party and his companions, “who call him to guidance, [saying]: ‘Come to us!'”
These are the people [who fought against ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) in the battle] of Nahrawan.
12. The Ibadiyya [or Abadiyya]. They maintain that every religious duty which Allah (Exalted is He) has made incumbent upon His creatures must be treated as an article of faith [iman], and that every major sin is an instance of ingratitude for divine blessings [kufr ni’ma], not of polytheistic misbelief [kufr shirk].
13. The Bahnasiyya, historically related to Abu Bahnas, have adopted a doctrine peculiar to themselves, since they maintain a man cannot be considered a Muslim until he knows everything that Allah has made lawful to him, and everything that He has made unlawful to him, specifically and personally.
There are some among the Bahnasiyya who say that if a person commits a sinful offense, he should not be treated as an unbeliever until he has been arraigned before the Sultan, so that the latter may impose upon him the penalty [prescribed by the sacred law for his particular offense], and that only then should he be convicted of unbelief [kufr].
14. The Shimrakhiyya trace the origin of their name to `Abdullah ibn ash-Shimrakh, who declared that the killing of one’s own parents is a lawful act [halal]. At the time when he made this assertion, however, he was under duress or threat of injury [fi dar at-taqiyya], so the Khawarij were able to wash their hands of him.
15. The Bida’iyya. Their doctrines generally coincide with those of the Azariqa. Peculiar to them alone, however, is the assertion that the ritual prayer [salat] should consist of only two cycles [rak`atan] not only in the morning, but also in the evening, on the strength of [their interpretation of] the words of Allah (Exalted is He):And perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night; surely the good deeds will drive away the evil deeds. (11:114)
They are in agreement with the Azariqa on the permissibility of taking women captives from among the unbelievers [kuffar], and of killing their infant children inadvertently, on the strength of [their interpretation of] the words of Allah (Exalted is He): [And Noah said: “My Lord,] do not leave upon the earth even one of the unbelievers.” (71:26)
All the sects of the Khawarij are in full accord when it comes to holding `Ali guilty of unbelief [kufr] on account of his decision to resort to the appointment of arbitrators [tahkim]. They are also in unanimous agreement on the imputation of unbelief to the perpetrator of a major sin [kufr murtakib kabira], with the exception of the Najadat, who do not subscribe to this doctrine.
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© 2016 As-Sunnah Foundation of America