A Brief Explanation about the Haruriyyah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

One of the early Khwarij groups was the Haruriyyah.  The Haruriyyah were named for their first leader, Habib ibn Yazid al-Haruri.  It was a Haruri who assassinated ‘Ali (k.w.) while he was praying, on the 21st Ramadhan, 661 CE.  ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.) is quoted to have said that the following ayat is about the Haruriyyah:

Say: “Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? ― Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?” (Surah al-Kahf:103-104)

Shaykh Khaled Abou El Fadl wrote, in “Islam & the Challenge of Democracy”, “Anecdotal reports about the debates between ‘Ali and the Khwarij reflect unmistakable tension about the meaning of legality and the implications of the rule of law.  In one such report, members of the Khwarij accused ‘Ali of accepting the judgement and dominion of human beings instead of abiding by the dominion of God’s law.  Upon hearing of this accusation, ‘Ali called on the people to gather around him and brought out a large copy of the Qur’an.  ‘Ali touched the Qur’an while instructing it to speak to the people and inform them about God’s law.  Surprised, the people who had gathered around ‘Ali exclaimed, ‘What are you doing?  The Qur’an cannot speak, for it is not a human being!’  Upon hearing this, ‘Ali exclaimed that this was exactly his point.  The Qur’an, ‘Ali explained, is but ink and paper, and it does not speak for Itself.  Instead, it is human beings who give effect to it according to their limited personal judgments and opinions.

Such stories are subject to multiple interpretations, but this one points most importantly to the dogmatic superficiality of proclamations of God’s Sovereignty that sanctify human determinations.  Notably, the Khwarij’s rallying cry of ‘Dominion belongs to God’ or ‘The Qur’an is the judge’ is nearly identical to the slogans invoked by contemporary fundamentalist groups.  But considering the historical context, the Khwarij’s sloganeering was initially a call for the symbolism of legality and the supremacy of law that later descended into an unequivocal radicalised demand for fixed lines of demarcation between what is lawful and unlawful.”

Also of note is the Haruri position that it was permissible to entrust the imam to be a woman if she was able to carry out the required duties.


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