“The Qur’an is a book, covered, between two flaps, and it does not speak. It should therefore necessarily have an interpreter. Men alone can be such interpreters…..” (Imam Ali in Nehj ul Balaga)
On the grounds of Siffin, when the best of Arabs showed the skill of his sword to Muawiyah, his friend the greatest of Politicians born to an Arab woman, Amr asked him to raise Koran on the spears. As the sun rose Ali and his armies saw a strange picture. The rival armies had raised Koran on their spears and were chanting. O sons of Hashim we have book of God between us. Ali asked his men, not to be fooled by this “political trick” and attack, as the day is yours.
Jammat [the “charismatic community” of muslims was the original legitimizing signifier in earlier muslims in opposition to later capitulation to “ideology and Koran” this fact finds expression in adoption of the term “Ahel e Sunnah wal Jammat” by centrists , people of community and tradition as opposed to Kharjittes who were literalist and Aehl e Hadees who were textualists .
Terms cannot be applied to present day sects. Watt, Formative period of Islam] was in grip of Fitna, muslims were fighting muslims. Pious companions of Muhammed were sure of imminent end of days. Who was on right path? Muhammed had long before said to his companions who asked him once how to choose the right path in Fitna. He had told them “Truth follows Ammar [bin Yasir] where ever he goes. Ammar was killed by Muawiyah’s men who when went to Amr to get reward heard “o you fools you have stained us for ever—-“. The game seemed to be over but Amr had a plan one which left its imprints for ever in lives of muslims.
The politician’s mind had already defeated the sword. How can we attack those who have book of Allah on their spears? Our blood, our kin and our brothers in faith, replied groups of Ali’s men. This was the first recorded abuse of religion for sake of politics in Islam. Later Amr and Mauwiyah showed what importance they accorded to principles of religion and morality when Amr deceived the old Mus’a , in the fiasco which in Islamic history is known as “Fitna e Tehqeem”.
Dejected by the treachery and shrewdness of politics those who had refused to follow Ali to battle gathered and chanted “La Hukam illallah”. Born were the first Islamist known as the “Kharijites. In history they were known as the “Suhart”, those who sold there souls to Allah!!
When they were chanting the verse from Koran, La Hukam illallah they were proclaiming the end of history. Asserting that the “only” judge in all the matters of community including politics is Allah and Allah alone with this they were denying the importance of social, historical and economic factors which were shaping the muslim community. “There is no room for negotiations, arbitration and political settlement. Because Allah through his book, final and correct has given the Absolute truth, static in time and space. Un- altered clear and for all times” This was passionate plea of religious fervor, subjugating the body-politic to text, The Koran. Companions had recollection of Muhammed who had once told them “There will come a time when a group of people will leave our ranks. They will recite the Quran with fervour and passion but its spirit will not go beyond their throats. They will leave our ranks in the manner of an arrow when it shoots from its bow” He was warning against those who would make religion into an ideology and will judge people on words of ink. But the times were tough old warnings were being ignored.
Ali , in whose house Koran was revealed and in whose house Muhammed started his ministry , was an apostate for accepting the judgment of humans instead of Allah and Koran… Thus started the bloody revolution of Kharjites that rocked the Moslem world for ever—-
The main tenets of the Khawarij were:
1. A revolt against the tradition of community which was main paradigm of Islamic thought at times of Muhammed’s companion.
2. Subjugation of all matters of community to command of Koran especially politics, Reading Koran literarily as “it says” with no room for historicity.
3. Those who are lax in there “iman” those who commit grave sins are not Moslems and their murder is permissible “Muslim who committed a major sin became de facto an apostate and earned the death penalty”. Most muslims who lived under caliphs [who were unjust and tyrants] and didn’t revolt were thus non muslims.
4. The rulers of muslims or Imams must be pious, those who must strictly follow Koran, if they don’t than its duty of every Muslims to revolt against them and those who dont revolt and keep living under them are “kafirs” like them who can be killed to destabilize the ruler.
5. They rejected the tribal nature of Islam and refused to accept only Quresh as Caliphs, piety and not tribe form the basis of Caliphate.
They revolted against many rulers and all muslim schools declared them heretics, but as Watt demonstrated in his study that most of Their tenants especially there “literalist and scripture- centered view slowly absorbed into the Sunni doctrine.
Ali was the first ruler to identify this evil. He fought them trying to eliminate this poison of “absolutism” and the practice of “cold blooded murder” of civilians in name of Allah, Koran and Islam.
On there call to supremacy of Koran, Ali delivered his famous speech which shows his philosophical approach to question of Language, text and humanity. Whilst the fundamentalist raises the status of “text” to extreme, rejecting, history and tradition thus essentially reducing the text to a contemporary conflict laden discourse .They forget one thing that language is product of “human” mind and call to text is ultimately a call to a “human interpretation” of text. Ali said:
“The Qur’an is a book, covered, between two flaps, and it does not speak. It should therefore necessarily have an interpreter. Men alone can be such interpreters…..” (Nehj-ul-balaga, sermon 124)
What is important to note is that “absolutism” arose in reaction to a political conflict, a stage of civil war. This “absolutism” re surges within Islamic thought at times of political turmoil; Ibn e Taymiyyah, during Mongol invasion, Islamism as reaction to colonialism and Suicidal Neo-Kharjites Al Qaida, Taliban and there theological contemporaries Hizb ul Tehrir , Al Muhajroon in reaction to USA’s neo-colonialism.
These Islamists and post-islamist draw a lot of their thought from Kharjites as Ziauddin Sardar notes in his article “Searching for Islam’s soul”
“Notice, also, that this tradition has a very specific view of sin. A perfect tradition must lead to perfect Muslims, who do not and cannot commit sin. Those who commit sin – that is, disagree or deviate – cannot be Muslims. Those outside this tradition are sinners and have to be brought to the Straight Path. The victims of sin themselves become sinners who have to be punished.
Third, this tradition is aggressively self-righteous; and insists on imposing its notion of righteousness on others. It legitimizes intolerance and violence by endlessly quoting the famous verse from the Qur’an that asks the believers “to do good and prevent evil deeds.” The Bali bombers justified their actions with this verse. The Islamic Defenders Front, based in Indonesia, frequently burns and destroys cafes, cinemas and discos – places it considers to be sites of immoral or immodest behaviour. The hated religious police in Saudi Arabia are on the streets every day imposing a “moral code” (mainly on women). In Pakistan, the religious scholars succeeded in banning mixed (male and female) marathons. Just where does this tradition come from? It can be traced right back to the formative phase of Islam”
He goes on tracing this Neo-Kharjite thought to the original Kharjites, those who revolted against Ali.
“Although the Kharjites were eventually suppressed, their thought has recurred in Islamic history with cyclic regularity. Like their predecessors, the neo-Kharjites have no doubt that their identity is shaped by the best religion with the finest arrangements and precepts for all aspects of human existence; and there can be no deviation from the path. Those who do not agree are at best lesser Muslims and at worst legitimate targets for violence”
The night when Ali, the man who wrote to Malik Ashter telling him:
Beware of blood and spilling it unlawfully, for nothing is more deserving of vengeance (from God), greater in its consequence or more likely to (bring about) a cessation of blessing and the cutting off of (one’s appointed) term than shedding blood unjustly. God – glory be to Him – on the Day of Resurrection will begin judgment among His servants over the blood they have spilt. So never strengthen your rule by shedding unlawful blood, for that is among the factors which weaken and enfeeble it, nay, which overthrow and transfer it. You have no excuse before God and before me for intentional killing, for in that there is bodily retaliation….
fell a victim to Kharjite , Ibn e Muljam who killed Ali because he in his eyes was not a “Muslim” because he didnt followed Koran as he thought it should be followed,a Neo-Kharjite blew himself up in heart of Islamabad, killing the “corrupt”, “immoral” muslims of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Their blood was halal [Halal- ud -dum is fatwa which allows murder on grounds apostasy or treason from Islamic government was famously given by Pakistani clerics against Bengali population during Bangladesh war of liberation and against “communists” during height of class war in Pakistan millions lost their life] on reason of not revolting against the Kaffir -USA-Tout government.[democratically elected PPP government who are kaffir on all grounds, Left wing, headed by Shai and secular] The battle of Saffin and Neharwan continues——
They “…used to go out with their swords to the marketplace. And when the innocent people gathered together without being aware of it, they suddenly cried out ‘La Hukm illa lillah’ (the decision is God’s) and lifted up their swords against anybody they happened to overtake, and they went on killing until they themselves were killed. The people used to live in constant fear of them….” ” (Malati, Tanbih, p. 51 – quoted from “The Concept of Belief in Islamic Theology” – Isutzu)
Related post: The Muawiyan admirers of Ali – by Abdul Nishapuri