In the backdrop of prevalent political and social scenario, ‘Kharji’ phenomenon has become the most misapplied phenomenon; certain sections of both Shiite and Sunni communities apply this phenomenon to each other, and frequently declare each other as ‘kharjis’. In the succeeding lines we would see how far label of kharjis is being correctly applied and to which people/persons, this phenomenon may be rightly applied.
The importance of thrashing out true characteristics of kharji phenomenon cannot be undermined due to the fact that the people who are declared as kharjis are considered to be no longer Muslims; in other words kharjis are declared as ‘kafirs’.
We have already seen in the article “Root Cause of ‘Takfeeri’ Tradition and its Remedy in Islam” a ‘kafir’ is that who does not believe in the righteousness of sayings and deeds of our Nabi (s.a.w.w); in other words whoever believes in the righteousness of sayings and deeds of our Nabi (s.a.w.w) is a Muslim.
Now let us examine what were the basic characteristics of faith/ ‘Eman’ of those people who were declared as kharjis in the age of companions of our Nabi (s.a.w.w).
According to various versions of ‘hadith’ stated in the ‘sahih’ Book of Imam Muslim (r.a), a young person named ‘Harqous’ came to see our Nabi (s.a.w.w). that time our Nabi (s.a.w.w) was distributing some bounty among the people. That person (Harqous) objected that our Nabi (s.a.w.w) was not distributing the bounty fairly (nauzubillah); Harqous (maloon) asked our Nabi (s.a.w.w) to fear from Allah. Our Nabi (s.a.w.w) stated about that person that such people would emerge soon; they would be religious (apparently "they would recite the Qur'an glibly, but it would not go beyond their throats" ), but (actually) they would have nothing to do with Islam [ "they would (hurriedly) pass through (the teachings of their) religion just as the arrow passes through the prey"]. . Our Nabi (s.a.w.w) also stated that (if those people staged a rebellion in our Nabi’s (s.a.w.w) age), our Nabi (s.a.w.w) would destroy them as nations of ‘Aad or Samoud’ were destroyed.
This person (Harqous) along-with his companions staged a revolt against Hazrat Ali (r.a), as per prediction of our Nabi (s.a.w.w) and were defeated. These rebels have been called ‘kharjis’ in the Muslim history.
From 'hadith' quoted above, a few basic characteristics of faith of these kharjis are reflected. The first characteristic is that they believe only in obedience to Allah; from Harqous’s statement that “our Nabi (s.a.w.w) should fear from Allah”, it is clear that khajis believed only in obedience to Allah. The second characteristic of kharjis’ faith which emerges out of above quoted hadith is that they do not believe in following our Nabi (s.a.w.w); that is why Harqous objected to our Nabi’s (s.a.w.w) deed of distributing bounty. The third characteristic of kharjis’ faith is that they are not Muslims but they would consider themselves as Muslims. From the fact that ‘they would be religious’, it implies that they would call themselves Muslims. History also endorses this fact that kharjis called themselves true Muslims. (It may be appreciated that kharjis adopted many other ideologies as well with passage of time; but such ideologies are not the basic characteristics of their faith; the basic characteristics are those which are shared by all kharjis).
From the above given analysis of kharjis’ faith, it becomes clear that they are the people who believe only in obedience to Allah; who do not believe in following our Nabi’s (s.a.w.w) Sunnah; and as such they are non-Muslims though they would call themselves as Muslims. It needs not emphasize that sections of Sunni and Shiite communities, which label each other as ‘kharjis’ do not fulfill these mentioned conditions of kharjis’ faith. Neither do the Shiite sections which label ISIS and Taliban as kharjis, nor ISIS and Taliban which label sections of Shiite as kharjis, are kharjis in reality. Both these sections of Shiite and Sunni communities believe in righteousness of Sunnah and following Sunnah, and both these sections do not believe only in obedience to Allah, ignoring our Nabi’s (s.a.w.w) Sunnah; and as such they cannot be declared as ‘kharjis’. Kharjis are those who do not believe in Sunnah. According to our Nabi (s.a.w.w) these kharjis would go on emerging till qiyamah and would be destroyed each time they emerge. Our Nabi (s.a.w.w) also stated these kharjis would align themselves with ‘Dajjal’. In present age too, we can find many groups which question essentiality of Sunnah and do not believe in following our Nabi (s.a.w.w), and surprisingly all these groups call themselves Muslims and are promoted and pampered by western powers which are Dajjali in their nature. One such kharji group called Qadyanis have been rightly declared as non-Muslims.
In the light of the foregoing, we may conclude that certain sections of Sunni and Shiite communities, which call each other ‘kharjis’ are not right in their approach. Though these sections of Shiite and Sunni communities can be rightly called as ‘takfeeri’, and as such may be called sinner (for details pls see “Root Cause of ‘Takfeeri’ Tradition and its Remedy in Islam; but they cannot be called as kharjis. Kharjis are kafir but sinners are not. When any group of Muslim Ummah is called ‘kafir’, division in the Ummah becomes permanent. When a group of ‘Ummah’ is called sinner, there are chances that both groups (sinner and non-sinners) are re-united sometimes in future; in this way division in Ummah does not remain permanent. We take example from companions of our Nabi (s.a.w.w). There were bloody wars between hazrat Ali (r.a.) and Amir Muawiya; but no group labeled the other one as ‘kafir’; resultantly we see that both groups were re-united in the age of Imam Hassan (r.a.).
We may conclude that, as explained above, certain sections of Sunni and Shiite communities, which label each other as kharjis are NOT kharjis in reality. Therefore such sections of Shiite and Sunni communities should avoid calling each other as kharjis; because such practice of calling each other 'kharjis' is neither factual in the light of hadith nor such practice can contribute positively to the unity of Ummah.