May 11, 2015 Abdul Haqq

Part 2: The Roots of Extremism in Islam

Part 2: The beginnings of the Khawaarij

A classic example that serves to illustrate the causes of misguidance described in Part 1 can be witnessed during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, when an individual called Dhul Khuwaisarah demanded more of the war booty, insisting that he ﷺ: “Be just,” thereby intimating that injustice or nepotism was the order of the day. This was a slanderous intimation and understood as such by the Prophet’s ﷺ companions. In an established narration from another prominent companion, Abu Saeed al-Khudri, who witnessed this event the following was narrated:

“When permission was sought by one of the Sahaba to kill Dhul Khuwaisirah, the Prophet objected, saying; “Verily, from the descendants of that person there will be a people who recite the Qur’an but it will not penetrate beyond their throats; they will slaughter the people of Islam and invite the idol worshipping people.”[1]

‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib also stated in regard to the Khawaarij:

“…By Allah, they are indeed in the loins of men and in the wombs of women, so when they come out… it is rare that they meet anyone except that they gather together to overcome him.”[2]

Dhul Khuwaisirah displayed two particular characteristics which remain common today: i. an incorrect understanding and application of the Qur’an and ii. pronouncing takfeer upon Muslims thereby sanctioning the permissibility of killing them.

  1. Misunderstanding/misapplication of the Qur’an: The Khawaarij’s erroneous understanding of the verse; “Verily the rule is for none but Allah[3] was among the reasons behind them opposing and revolting against the companions of the Prophet ﷺ not so long after his death. ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib said, concerning this misunderstanding of theirs: “A statement of truth by which falsehood is intended.”[4]  
  1. Pronouncing Takfeer upon the Muslims: The following incident occurred with a companion of the Prophet ﷺ, Abdullah ibn Khabbab:

He and his pregnant wife were both taken as prisoners by the Khawaarij after the latter had split from ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib’s army. They asked him; “Who are you?” He said; “’Abdullah ibn Khabbab, the companion of Allah’s Messenger and you have alarmed me.” They told him not to be alarmed and to narrate what he had heard from his father, (who had heard from the Prophet ).

They then led him by his hand and while walking came across a pig. One of them slaughtered it and was rebuked by one of his colleagues because it belonged to a Dhimee (non – Muslim who pays the prescribed jizya tax under Muslim rule.) He therefore went to the owner of the animal and requested that he be pardoned for killing it. (He then recompensed the Dhimee).

 Further on, while they were still walking, one of them picked up a date from the road to eat and was also rebuked for not seeking permission or paying for it. He subsequently spat it out. They then killed Abdullah ibn Khabbab and then approached his wife to slay her. She said; “I am pregnant! Will you not fear Allah?” They killed her and split open her stomach to reveal the child.”[5]


The characteristics of Dhul Khuwaisarah and the Khawaarij are evident today in the wanton bloodshed of innocent individuals – Muslim and non-Muslim alike by extremist entities like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram who commit such atrocities with a sense of impunity.

However, unfortunately at the same time, specific Muslim communities are witnessing a type of McCarthyism from sections of our own society – that include particular government ministers and media outlets – seeking to marginalise them due to socially conservative beliefs and values considered antiquated and at odds with some of today’s societal norms. What is all the more disconcerting is that other faith groups sharing similar beliefs and values to their Muslim counterparts are not treated in the same manner. This incongruity threatens significant aspects of social cohesion within our society and risks ostracising these communities that are also united in the fight against extremism – be it religious or otherwise.



[1] Sahih  Al Bukhari and Muslim

[2] Bidaayah wan Nihaayah ibn Katheer 7/283

[3] Chapters Al – Anaam (The Cattle): 6:57 & Yusuf (Joseph): 12:40 & 67

[4] Recorded in Sahih Muslim

[5] Excerpts taken from Bidaayah wan Nihayah of Ibn Katheer 7/283

A couple of weeks back, Monday morning was suddenly cooler and slightly hazy.
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