Intro 

Kharijite belief is distinguished from that of mainstream Islam through its particular emphasis on good actions as well as belief. For the Kharijites the mere profession of the faith - "There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the prophet of God" - was not sufficient in itself to make a person a Muslim; the profession had to be accompanied by righteousness and good works.

 History and Development  

Kharijiyyah emerged in the first century of Islam as a result of disputes within the community over the question of who should lead it. During the reign of the third caliph, 'Uthman, certain groups accused the caliph of nepotism and misrule, and this discontent led to his assassination in 656. After 'Uthman's death Ali, the cousin of the Prophet, was invited by the Muslims at Madina to accept the caliphate, which he did, and thus became the fourth caliph (656-661). Ali's rule was opposed by Uthman's nephew, Mu'awiyah, who rebelled against Ali, but subsequently agreed to settle the issue of who should lead the community through human arbitration. The principle of the use of human arbitration for this purpose was opposed by certain groups within the community, who became known to history as the Kharijites (a term which means "those who go out, go off").

 

Because of their belief that the pursuit of truth was done through the use of the sword, they embarked upon endless campaigns against the community. Gradually they were subdued, and within two centuries of the birth of Islam were wiped out. The Kharijites were centred around the marshes around Basra and on the left bank of the Tigris, a location which afforded them the opportunity to escape to the mountainous regions of the Iranian plateaus if defeated in battle.

 

Contrary to the Sunni view and practice, the Kharijites interpreted the Qur'anic command concerning "enjoining good and forbidding evil" to mean the vindication of their beliefs through the sword. With regard to the question of who should lead the community of Muslims, the Kharijites claimed that the community could only be led by those who were pious and righteous. It was deemed acceptable to overthrow a ruler whose conduct fell short of these ideals.

 Kharijites Today  

The group has not got a large number  of contemporary adherents. A moderate group called Ibadites, who refer themselves back to the Kharijites but reject their aggressive methods, are to be found in the sultanate of Oman and North Africa.

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