Is the Islamic State Khawarij?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of Allah, All praise be to Allaah Rubul Alameen, and May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon The seal of the Prophets and Mursaleen, The Best of Guidance and Mercy lil-Aalameen, The Mujahid and Amir of the Mujahideen, The Best of Creation, Muhammad (ﷺ) and upon his family and companions and those who follow their rightly guided way until Yawm ul-Deen, as to what follows;

In the unbiased media light of a blowtorch, Islam and Muslims have remained in the cross-hairs of daily headlines for the past 13 years. We continue to find Western leaders, and their gimps in the Middle East, dividing the Muslims into two camps; Extremists and Moderates. Simultaneously, we find the Muslims within themselves adopting this same division. The location of choice to display your camp loyalty is obviously none other than your Facebook profile. Either you sport a fluffy glitter cover pic with pop singers and romance movies in your ‘likes’, a few memes of ‘Islam is a religion of peace!’ on your wall along with some Mufti Menk quotes, or you have a Black ‘Al-Qaeda’ Jee-had war flag as your cover pic with ‘Kuffar Killa’ as your current occupation, Quran, Sunnah and Abu Hajar Al-Hadrami in your ‘likes’, following Musa Cerantonio with all your settings set to private.

Despite the endless hours of back and forth debates between the two camps on facebook, twitter and forums filled with youtube links, ctrl-v IslamQ&A fataawa and capslock, it is clear that no one is willing to backdown online, they will fight it out to the death!… in an online counter-strike kinda way. This division has resurrected, mainly amongst team moderates, a derogatory term to hurl at team extremists that most people have little or no knowledge about; Khawaarij.

Offline on the ground however it is much more serious, with Takfir being a major contributing factor towards the infighting amongst the fighters in Syria, we find this Khawaarij division has taken a deadly place over the past year. The FSA and their allied groups labeling the ISIS as the Khawaarij of today in order to justify their attacks on ISIS bases, kidnapping their fighters as well as women and out-of-court executions. “They are the dogs of hell” and “We will be rewarded for killing them” have been delivered in statements by the FSA et. al, regarding the ISIS. Although these Ahadeeth are true regarding the Khawaarij, we need to ask, is the ISIS eligible to be classified as Khawaarij to begin with in order for these statements to apply to them?

So who are the Khawaarij? What are their beliefs? Are they Kuffaar? Should they be killed? When should they be fought? We must compare the methodology and beliefs of the ISIS before slapping the title “Khawaarij” to their backs and going all Shariah on ’em. So lets get right into it, as proven by the texts and scholarly consensus, the Khawaarij are one of the deviant sects that have deviated from Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. At their earlier appearances they did not have a clear methodology that defined their beliefs other than disagreeing with the Muslim rulers, but over time their beliefs have been made apparent which i will list further on.

From the earliest narrations regarding the Khawaarij was by Abu Saeed and others from the Sahaaba may Allaah be pleased with them when The Prophet (ﷺ) was in Ji’ranah distributing gold nuggets and sliver spoils of war from Bilal’s lap, The Prophet (ﷺ) gave to his left and right but not behind him, then Abdullah bin Dhil Khawaisira at-Tamimi, a man with black patchy shaved hair wearing two white garments stood behind him and said: “Be just, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” or ” You have not been just!”

The Prophet (ﷺ) became very angry and said, “Woe to you! Who would be just if I were not?” Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “Allow me to cut off his neck!” The Prophet (ﷺ) said “Leave him, for he has companions, and if you compare your prayers with their prayers and your fasting with theirs, you will look down upon your prayers and fasting, in comparison to theirs. A people will come at the end of time; as if he is one of them, reciting the Qur’an without it passing beyond their throats. They will go through Islam just as the arrow goes through the target. Their distinction will be shaving. They will not cease to appear until the last of them comes with Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal.” Bukhari (and An-Nisaa’i with different wording)

I have also seen people attempting to attach the following ahadeeth to the ISIS: Yusair bin Amr said; I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, “Did you hear the Prophet (ﷺ) saying anything about Al-Khawarij?” He said; “I heard him saying while pointing his hand towards Iraq; “There will appear in it (Iraq) some people who will recite the Qur’an but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts through the game’s body.” Bukhari. In another Hadeeth Ali may Allaah be pleased with him said “The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the sign of that is that among them there will be a man who has an upper arm, but no hand; on his upper arm there will be something like the nipple of a female breast, having white hair thereon.” Abu Dawud.

Sit down moderates! before you get excited and rush to check if Abu Bakr Al-Baghdaadi has a nipple on his arm, that specific group of Khawaarij that The Prophet (ﷺ) ordered to fight already appeared from Haruriya, Iraq, and were fought by Ali may Allaah be pleased with him as narrated by Zaid bin Wahb al-Juhani who said “I was in the army which proceeded to fight with the Khawarij in the company of Ali may Allaah be pleased with him. After fighting this particular group, Ali said: “Search for the man with the crippled hand. but they could not find it. Then Ali got up himself and went to the people who had been killed and were lying on one another. He said: Take them out. They found him just near the ground. So he shouted: “Allah is Most Great! He said: Allah spoke the truth, and His Apostle has conveyed!” Sahih Abu Dawud.

Also Abu Sa’id al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made a mention of a sect that would be among his Ummah (Khawaarij) which would emerge out of the dissension of the people. Their distinctive mark would be shaven heads. They would be the worst creatures or the worst of the creatures. The group who would be nearer to the truth out of the two would kill them. Abu Sai’d then said: People of Iraq. it is you who have killed them. Sahih Muslim.

So not only was that description and location specifically for that group of Khawaaraij and not a general description of their location forever, but it was with the help of the people of Iraq that were on the truth that fought alongside Ali and killed the Khawaarij. We also know in the Hadeeth narrated by Ibn Hawalah that The Prophet (ﷺ) said: It will turn out that you will be armed troops, one is Syria, one in the Yemen and one in Iraq. Ibn Hawalah said: Choose for me, Messenger of Allah, if I reach that time. He replied: Go to Syria, for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which his best servants will be gathered.” Abu Dawud. This tells us that there will be great Mujahideen from the Ummah in Iraq just as there will be in Syria, this also encourages the Mujahideen to go to Syria, negating the request of those who advise ISIS remain in Iraq as this would be contradictory to the advice of The Prophet (ﷺ), and if the advice was in order to prevent fitnah, why not tell the groups in Syria to accept the assistance of their brothers from Iraq? The more the merrier!

We also see in a hadeeth The Prophet (ﷺ) informing us that the best people from Iraq will pledge allegiance to Imam Mahdi along with the Syrians, which means that Mujahideen from Iraq will remain until Imam Mahdi arrives and be part of his army that will govern according to the Sunnah of The Prophet (ﷺ) and establish the law of Allaah on earth. The grade of that hadeeth however is questionable so i will not cite it although some scholars have said it is permissible to use as it does not contain any rulings or orders of Halal or Haram in it.

Now to proceed as i mentioned earlier, we must understand the beliefs of the Khawaarij to see if they match the ISIS in order to make a connection between the two groups. The scholars have listed the following main points in regards to the methodology and beliefs of the Khawaarij which are as follows:

1 – To revolt against the ruler if he disagrees with their methodology and understanding of the religion.
2 – To Render those who commit major sins as apostates and hell-bound for eternity. Some of them also believe that minor sins take one outside of the fold of Islaam.
3 – They believe no Muslim who enters hell will ever come out, rejecting the Hadeeth and consensus.
4 – They do not recognize or acknowledge the Khilaafah of Uthmaan and Ali may Allaah be pleased with them.
5 – They Permit the Greater Khilaafah to be a man from other than Quraish, free man or a slave, arab or a non-arab, and other groups from within them do not see having a Khilaafah as important at all, rather the people should sort out their affairs for themselves, and if they feel the need for an Imaam they may choose one.
6 – They Abolish the ruling of stoning of the adulterer.
7 – Some of them deny Surat Yusuf saying that it is not befitting to have a love story in the Quran.
8 – Prayer is still obligatory upon women during their menses, rejecting the Hadeeth and consensus.
9 – Emaan (faith) does not increase or decrease.
10 – Not doing an obligatory act is apostasy.
11 – To fight and kill Muslims who they view as apostates and leave fighting the enemies of Islam.
12 – The Khawaarij are followers of whims and desires and innovation.

So with that being said we can clearly agree that this is not the methodology of the ISIS. They did not revolt against a ruler, rather they have been revolted against as they have been established much longer than any group currently fighting in Syria, they do not make Takfir of major or minor sins as far as we know of, they acknowledge and love all the companions may Allaah be pleased with them all, they not only support a khilafah from Quraish but reject any other to be leader since Al-Baghdaadi seems to be the most eligible, they are attempting to rule by the law of Allaah not abolish it and even implement it on their own fighters, they do not deny any verses or chapters of the Quran, they do not require women to pray during their menses, they believe faith increases and decreases, they do not make Takfir on the general population and did not initiate killing Muslims while leaving the enemy, they hold firmly to the law of Allaah and disregard their whims and desires and are against innovation.

But lets play it out anyway and pretend they are Khawaarij just to make a point, if they are Khawaarij do we consider them as disbelievers? According to the majority of scholars, no, they are not. Al-Imaam An-Nawawi may Allaah have mercy on him said from Sharh Muslim: “The view of Al-Shaafa‘i and the majority of his fellow scholars is that the Khawaarij are not disbelievers, this also applies to the Qadariyyah and the majority of the Mu‘tazilah and other groups that follow whims and desires” end quote.

قال النووي رحمه الله :
” وَمَذْهَب الشَّافِعِيّ وَجَمَاهِير أَصْحَابه الْعُلَمَاء أَنَّ الْخَوَارِج لَا يَكْفُرُونَ , وَكَذَلِكَ الْقَدَرِيَّة وَجَمَاهِير الْمُعْتَزِلَة وَسَائِر أَهْل الْأَهْوَاء ” انتهى من “شرح مسلم”

Also, we see from Majmua Al-Fataawa, Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah may Allaah have mercy on him said: “The Khawaarij who deviated, whom the Prophet (ﷺ) enjoined us to fight, and whom Ameer al-Mu’mineen Ali, may Allah be pleased with him fought, and whom the leading scholars of Islam among the Sahaaba, Taabi‘een and those who came after them were unanimously agreed upon fighting, were not described as disbelievers by Ali ibn abi Taalib, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas and others among the Sahaaba, rather they regarded them as Muslims even though they fought them, and Ali did not fight them until they shed blood unlawfully and raided the property of the Muslims; then he fought them in order to ward off their wrongdoing and aggression, not because they were disbelievers. Hence he did not take their women captive and he did not seize their wealth as booty.” end quote.

:قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية رحمه الله
” الْخَوَارِجُ الْمَارِقُونَ الَّذِينَ أَمَرَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِقِتَالِهِمْ قَاتَلَهُمْ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ أَحَدُ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ ، وَاتَّفَقَ عَلَى قِتَالِهِمْ أَئِمَّةُ الدِّينِ مِنْ الصَّحَابَةِ وَالتَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ بَعْدَهُمْ ، وَلَمْ يُكَفِّرْهُمْ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ وَسَعْدُ بْنُ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ وَغَيْرُهُمَا مِنْ الصَّحَابَةِ بَلْ جَعَلُوهُمْ مُسْلِمِينَ مَعَ قِتَالِهِمْ وَلَمْ يُقَاتِلْهُمْ عَلِيٌّ حَتَّى سَفَكُوا الدَّمَ الْحَرَامَ وَأَغَارُوا عَلَى أَمْوَالِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَقَاتَلَهُمْ لِدَفْعِ ظُلْمِهِمْ وَبَغْيِهِمْ لَا لِأَنَّهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ، وَلِهَذَا لَمْ يَسْبِ حَرِيمَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَغْنَمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ ” .
انتهى من “مجموع الفتاوى”

We also find in Lama’at ul-I’tiqaad that Sheikh ‘Abd ur-Rahmaan ibn Saalih al-Mahmoud may Allaah preserve him was asked if the Khawaarij are kaafirs, he replied “The correct view is that they are not to be regarded as disbelievers. Ali ibn abi Taalib may Allaah be pleased with him was asked are they disbelievers? He said: They fled from disbelief, but they fell into the innovation of labeling others as disbelievers; we will not fall into the innovation of labeling others as disbelievers and thus label them as such. This is the correct view, In shaa Allaah, even though their innovations may be described as innovations that constitute kufr.” end quote.

:وسئل الشيخ عبد الرحمن بن صالح المحمود حفظه الله : ” هل الخوارج كفار؟ ” فأجاب
” الصحيح أنهم لا يكفرون ؛ فقد سئل عنهم علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه : أكفار هم ؟ قال : ” من الكفر فروا ” ، فهم وقعوا في بدعة التكفير ، فلا نقع نحن في بدعة التكفير فنكفرهم ، هذا هو القول الراجح إن شاء الله تعالى ، وإن كان يطلق على بدعهم أنها بدع كفرية ” انتهى من “شرح كتاب لمعة الاعتقاد”

So two points must be noted here, number one; attaching one or two doubtful traits to a group does not qualify as evidence to issue a ruling otherwise it would lead to chaos and a great injustice, let us take two ahadeeth for example and see the outcome;

1 – Ibn `Umar narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food), and a kafir or a hypocrite eats in seven intestines (eats too much). Bukhari.

2 – Abu Huraira narrated that The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks he tells a lie; whenever he is entrusted he proves dishonest; whenever he promises he breaks his promise.” Bukhari.

Can we now conclude from these two Hadeeth that if we find a Muslim overweight from eating too much who has been caught spreading lies is now an apostate hypocrite Kaafir and is permissible to be killed? I should hope not, similarly we cannot conclude that the ISIS are the Khawaarij based on mere skepticism and the possibility that they might qualify for one or two of their traits without clear evidence, after all, we are the people of proof and not whims and desires.

And number two, the Khawaarij are not Kuffaar and they should not be fought until they begin shedding blood unlawfully and raiding the property of the Muslims. So even if the FSA et. al, believed the ISIS were in fact Khawaarij, it would still not be permissible to fight them for no excusable reason, and if they stopped, then fighting them must also stop. We have seen the FSA et. al using the verse of Allaah:

“And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah . And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” 49:9

Firstly, that verse could very easily apply against them rather than for them as the FSA et. al are visibly the ones committing the oppression, and secondly that verse was mentioned to Ibn Umar by a man trying to force him to fight against a group of Muslims, so Ibn Umar said, “O son of my brother! I would rather be blamed for not fighting because of this Verse than to be blamed because of another Verse where Allah says: “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” 4:93 – Bukhari.

With this information we cannot agree with the claims of the FSA and their allies that the ISIS are Khawaarij based on the fact that they think anyone who makes Takfeer on another Muslim is from the Khawaarij and should be fought, this shows the lack of knowledge of the laws of Allaah amongst their leadership as well as an inability to control their men. The ISIS must openly state that their beliefs coincide with all of the Khawaarij beliefs and fight the Muslims before a call to fight them can be made, which as far as we know neither have taken place. In fact what we have seen from the ISIS is a call to unity, a mubahaa, to cease the infighting, and to focus on the enemy, all of which have fallen on deaf ears and gone unanswered.

What is rather amusing is that if we use the mentality and judgement of the FSA, more traits could be applied to them that they are in fact the Khawaarij, let us see if they qualify to the following; They do not implement the stoning of the adulterer or any law of Allaah for that matter, They fight and kill the Muslims calling them apostates and have left fighting the SAA, They shave, They pass through Islaam quickly, one day praying, the next day cursing Islaam, they follow their whims and desires and innovation, they wear skinny jeans (i just threw that one in there because it is disgusting, however it is not a mentioned trait). Here we see the FSA actually qualify as Khawaarij more than the ISIS do based upon a trait count and their judgement system. Since they are so eager to earn rewards from Allaah for fighting the Khawaarij, maybe they should begin with killing themselves.

As for the fighting between Jabhat un-Nusrah and the ISIS all i can say is Allahul Musta’aan, leaders from both must renew their intentions and meet as brothers for the sake of Allaah to genuinely seek an agreement quietly out of the public, plan towards what is best for the Ummah in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, and ensure these decisions are understood and enforced by the military commanders in all provinces so that Allaah will bless their efforts and give them victory, Allaah has said:

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers.” 3:103

Abu Al-Abaas bin Muhammad.