Understanding Kharijism

Kharijism is a term used to describe a religious and political movement that originated in early Islamic history. The term \”Kharijite\” is derived from the Arabic word \”kharij,\” which means \”to leave\” or \”to secede.\” The Kharijites were a group of early Muslims who seceded from the main body of Islam and established their own separate community.

Kharijism is considered one of the earliest sects in Islam and is considered one of the earliest instances of religious dissent and division in the Islamic world. The movement was founded by a group of Muslims who were dissatisfied with the leadership of the first three caliphs of Islam, Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. The Kharijites believed that the caliphs were corrupt and that true leadership in Islam should only be held by those who are just and pious.

One of the key teachings of the Kharijites was the belief in the equality of all Muslims. They held that any Muslim, regardless of social status or ethnicity, had the right to hold positions of leadership in the community. This idea was in direct opposition to the views held by the majority of early Muslims, who believed that only those from the tribes of Quraysh were qualified to lead.

The Kharijites were also known for their strict interpretation of Islamic law and their willingness to declare other Muslims as apostates if they deviated from the Kharijite interpretation of the faith. This led to numerous armed conflicts between the Kharijites and the mainstream Muslim community, and the movement was eventually suppressed by the Islamic empire.

Despite their eventual decline, the ideas and teachings of the Kharijites have continued to influence Islamic thought and practice throughout the centuries. Some modern Muslim scholars and movements have been influenced by the ideas of the Kharijites, as they operate subversive of an orthodox advocacy for a return to a more authentic Islam.

One of the most famous quotes attributed to the Kharijites is, \”The rule is only for Allah,” while Muslims believe in this ayah, the khawarij leave no exceptions to the ayah, while the Qur’an clearly leaves exceptions to ruling. This quote encapsulates the Kharijite belief in the absolute sovereignty of God and their rejection of any human understanding over the interpretation and application of Islamic law.

In conclusion, the Kharijite movement played a significant role in early Islamic history and continues to influence Islamic thought and practice to this day. Despite the controversy surrounding the movement and its teachings, the Kharijites were among the first to advocate for the equality of all Muslims and the importance of maintaining the purity and authenticity of Islamic teachings.


  • \”Kharijites.\” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2023.

  • \”Kharijites.\” Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2023.

  • \”Kharijites.\” The Islamic Texts Society. The Islamic Texts Society, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2023.

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