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Shawwal 23 Wednesday Hijrah 1443
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Title – The Message   Preface   Arabian Peninsula the Cradle of Islamic Culture   Arabia before Islam   Conditions of Roman and Iranian Empires   Ancestors of the Prophet   Birth of the Prophet   Childhood of the Prophet   Rejoining the Family   Period of Youth   From Shepherd to Merchant   From Marriage up to Prophethood   The First Manifestation of Reality   The First Revelation   Who were the First Persons to Embrace Islam?   Cessation of revelation   General Invitation   Judgement of Quraysh about the Holy Qur’an   The First Migration   Rusty Weapons   The Fiction of Gharaniq   Economic Blockade   Death of Abu Talib   Me’raj – The Heavenly Ascension   Journey to Ta’if   The Agreement of Aqabah   The Event of Migration   The Events of the First Year of Migration   Some Events of the First and Second years of Migration   The Events of the Second Year of Migration   Change of Qiblah   The Battle of Badr   Dangerous Designs of the Jews   The Events of the Third Year of Migration   The Events of the Third and Fourth years of Migration   The Jews Quit the Zone of Islam   The Events of the Fourth Year of Migration   The Events of the Fifth Year Of Migration   The Battle of Ahzab   The Last Stage of Mischief   The Events of the Fifth and Sixth years of Migration   The events of the Sixth Year of Migration   A Religious and Political Journey   The Events of the Seventh Year of Migration   Fort of Khayber the Centre of Danger   The Story of Fadak   The Lapsed ‘Umrah   The Events of the Eighth Year of Migration   The Battle of Zatus Salasil   The Conquest of Makkah   The Battle of Hunayn   The Battle of Ta’if   The Famous Panegyric of Ka’b Bin Zuhayr   The Events of the Ninth Year of Migration   The Battle of Tabuk   The Deputation of Thaqif goes to Madina   The Prophet Mourning for his Son   Eradication of Idol-Worship in Arabia   Representatives of Najran in Madina   The Events of the Tenth Year of Migration   The Farewell Hajj   Islam is completed by the Appointment of Successor   The Events of the Eleventh Year of Migration   A Will which was not written   The Last Hours of the Prophet  


Chapter 4: What they believed about the Caliphate

The only idea of the Khawarij’s that could be interpreted favorably by the modern thinkers of today is their theory about the caliphate. They had a quasi-democratic concept of it, and said that the caliph must be chosen by free election, and that the worthiest person was he who had merit as far as faith and piety were concerned. He could be from the Quraysh or not, from a distinguished and famous tribe, or from an insignificant and backward one, Arab or non-Arab.

If, after his election and after everyone had sworn allegiance to him, he took steps in a direction against the interests of the community of Islam, he should be removed from the caliphate, and if he refused, he should be fought with until killed.

In the matter of the caliphate they took a position opposite to that of the Shi`ah, who say that it is a divine office and that the caliph can only be someone who is nominated by God. They were also in opposition to the Sunni, who say the caliphate belongs to the Quraysh and who hold firmly to the principle “innama ‘l-a’immatu min qurayshin” – “but the leaders are from the Quraysh:”

Apparently their opinion about the caliphate was not something they had arrived at when they first came into existence. For, according to what their famous slogan “la hukma illa li ‘llah” – “no authority except Allah’s” -tells us, and also according to what we glean from Nahju ‘l balaghah 6, they believed, in the beginning, that the people and the society did not need a leader or a government, and that the people should put the Book of God into practice on their own.

However, afterwards, they turned back on this belief and firmly swore allegiance to `Abdullah ibn al-Wahab.7

They recognized the caliphates of Abu Bakr and `Umar to be rightful, because they believed that these two persons had been rightfully elected and that they had not deviated from the way of the best interest, nor perpetrated anything against this best interest. They also recognized the election of `Uthman and `Ali to be rightful; however they said that towards the end of the sixth year of his caliphate, `Uthman changed his direction and ignored the best interest of the Muslims. So he should have been deposed from the caliphate, but since he continued in office he was killed as an unbeliever and his killing was a religious duty. As for ‘Ali, since he accepted the arbitration, but did not subsequently repent; he was killed as an unbeliever and his killing was a religious duty. Thus they denounced the caliphate of `Uthman after its seventh year, and that of ‘Ali after the arbitration. 8

They also abhorred the rest of the caliphs, and were always at war with them.


6. See sermon no.40, and also the commentary of Ibn Abi ‘ l-Hadid, vol.2, p.308

7. See Ibn Kathir, al-Kamil fi ‘t-tarikh.

8. See ash-Shahrastani, al-Milal wa ‘n-nihal, Cairo, 1961

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