Who are the Harijis, how did they emerge, and what are their basic characteristics?
Harijis emerged after the Siffin War that took place at the time of Hazrath Ali. During the war that was fought between the followers of Hazrath Ali and Hazrath Muaviya, when the followers of Hazrath Muaviya understood that they would be defeated, they put pages from the Quran on their spears and said: Let the Quran be arbitrator between us. upon which the clashes stopped and talks started.
After this arbitrator issue, some people left the side of Hazrath Ali saying, You accepted them as arbitrator; but judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. (1) These are called Harijis.
The statement Judgment and authority rest with none but God alone (2) became a slogan for Harijis. Moreover, when one day Hazrath Ali was addressing the public, one of the Harijis stood up and said O Ali! You rendered people partner to the religion of God. Judgment and authority rest with none but God alone! whereupon from all sides the voices rose: judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. Hazrath Ali answered: This is a right statement; but with this the false is intended. (3)
One day, while Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was distributing loot, one said: O Mohammad (PBUH), be just! You did not distribute with justice. Prophet Mohammad turned red and said: If I am not just, then who else can be so? and he stated: Beware, a group of this kind will emerge in future. They will leave religion as an arrow leaves its bow. (4)
Therefore, Harijis are the people described in this hadith. They did not even hesitate to call Hazrath Ali, the hero of Islam, unbeliever. Actually, they are fond of worship. With the expression of the Prophet: One among you sees his own prayer inferior to their prayer, and his own fasting inferior to their fasting. But their belief does not go beyond their throats. (5). As Shatibi puts it; they do not understand what they read. (6)
Hazrath Ali sent Ibn-i Abbas to the Harijis as an envoy. When they said: Judgment and authority rest with none but God alone! Ibn-i Abbas answered: Yes, judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. However, God wished for appointing an arbitrator in discords between wife and husband. (7). Likewise, He appointed arbitrator for the one who hunts while he is in ihram (a sacred state that a Muslim must enter in order to perform the major pilgrimage). (8) Therefore, which one comes first in appointing arbitrator: the issues of wife-husband and hunting or the issue that concerns the community? (9)
Harijis are generally the Arabs that live in deserts. They lived poorly before Islam. As they continued living in deserts, their economic situation did not improve when they entered Islam. Their ideas are simple and their understanding is narrow.
For this reason, they are bigoted in religion and their capacity of reasoning is lacking. They quickly get angry and easily conquered by indignation. Just like the desert they are living in, they are harsh in nature and hard-hearted. (10)
Harijis always struggled with Muslims instead of non-Muslims. (11)
Among their most evident characteristics are: intolerance, fanaticism, shutting doors for the ones who are not from themselves, affecting political change by violence and narrow-mindedness. (12)
Harijis accept each sin as blasphemy. They say that performers of big sins will be in the hell forever. (13) They think that belief and unbelief do not have a middle way. (14) They claim that practice is part of the belief. They deduce judgments from the outer meanings of the verses that were revealed about mushriks-people who attribute partners to God-and about unbelievers. (15)
For example, from the verse: Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by all who can afford a way to it. And whoever refuses (the obligation of the Pilgrimage) or is ungrateful to God (by not fulfilling this command), God is absolutely independent of all creatures. (16) They judge that whoever does not go to the Hajj is unbeliever. However, the judgment is not for the one who does not perform Hajj, but for the one who refuses it. (17)
Likewise, they bring the verse: Whoever (declines to confirm and) does not judge by what God has sent down, those are indeed unbelievers, (18) as evidence to the supposition that sinners are not Muslims. (19). However, while there is no objection to the fact that whoever does not attest to/accept whatever God reveals is unbeliever; the sinners who do not do what God commands although they believe are still Believers. They can never be called unbelievers.
1-Şehristani, page 106-107; Eş'ari, I, 167-168; İbnu Teymiye, Takıyyüddin, et-Tefsiru'l - Kebir, Daru'l- Kütübi'l- İlmiyye, Beyrut, 1988, II, 8-9; Şatıbi, Ebu İshak, el- Muvafakat fi Usuli'ş- Şeria, Beyrut, ts., III, 292; Ebu Zehra, Muhammed, Tarihu'l-Mezahibi'l-İslamiye, Daru'l-Fikri'l-Arabi, I, 65; Yemeni, Ebu Muhammed, Akaidu seles ve's- Sebîne fırka, Tahkik: Muhammed Abdullah Zerban el-/amidi, Mektebetu'l- Ulûm ve'l- Hikem, Medine, 1414 h., I, 11-12; Kılavuz, page 311
2-Al-Anam Surah, 57; Yusuf Surah, 40, 67
3-Şehristani, page 107 (in the footnote).
4-Buhari, Megazi, 61; Müslim, Zekat. 144-146; İbnu Hanbel, III, 4
5-Buhari, Menakıb, 25; Müslim, Zekat, 147; İbnu Mace, Mukaddime, 12
6-Şatıbî, el-İ'tisam, page 403
7- The reference is to the verse: "And if you fear that a breach might occur between a couple, appoint an arbiter from among his people and an arbiter from among her people." An-Nisa Surah, 35.
8-Al-Maidah Surah, 95
9-Cevzi, İbnu Kayyim, İ'lamu'l- Muvakkiin an Rabbi'l - Alemin, Daru'l - Kütübi'l -İlmiyye, Beyrut, 1991, I, 163; Şatıbi, el- Muvafakat, III, 292
10-See Ebu Zehra, I, 68-69
11-Akyol, Taha, Haricilik ve Şia, Kubbealtı Neş. İst. 1988, page 97
12-Fazlurrahman, İslam, Ter. Mehmet Aydın ve Mehmet Dağ, Selçuk Yay. Ank. 3. Bsk, page 234
13-Eş'ari, I, 167-168
14-Taftezani, Şerhu'l - Akaid, page140-141
15-See Şatıbî, İ'tisam, page 404; Koçyiğit, Talat, Hadisçilerle Kelamcılar Arasındaki Münakaşalar, TDV. Yay. Ankara, 1989, page 37-39
16-Al-Imran Surah, 97
17-Ebu Zehra, I, 71-73
18-Al-Maidah Surah, 44
19-Alûsî, VI, 145