The Striking similarities between the Daesh (ISIS) and the Khawarij

Zameena Manji,

Bujumbura, Burundi

The past two years have filled this world with paramount terror, as the infamous ISIS continue to gain stronghold of cities in Syria and Iraq, blowing themselves at mosques, football stadiums, concerts and beaches. Their heinous acts are causing the deaths of thousands around them. To behead an innocent person who opposes their system is a norm for them as if the lives of the ones killed are not humans. They seem to resemble theblood thirsty monsters we see on TV, only these are far worse.

But who are these devils in disguise? How did they emerge? Were we ever warned by the Prophet of their presence? Do events in Islamic history strike a chord with the mass murdering happening today?

The ISIS/Daesh were reportedly part of al Qaeda and soon decided to split, capturing small towns and have been ruling ever since. Their radical laws include men having long beards and women covering themselves from head to toe with a garb that barely lets them see, let alone walk.  Western modest clothing is forbidden, if caught not adhering to the laws, the people are either lashed in public or sometimes, they are locked inside a cage on the middle of the road, for public humiliation. People are forced to agree to the type of religion they proclaim to follow, which basically means Shias, Yazidis and Christians are to be killed.

Shias and Christians in particular, have been the biggest victims of the Daesh, as they have been killed massively in the past two years. The ISIS have committed crimes beyond human tolerance and have resulted into a great fury throughout the world, each superpower country sending their warplanes into the ISIS controlled areas and eventually leading to a total mess in Syria and parts of Iraq.

However, History proves that the radicalized mindset of the ISIS is nothing new. A group with very similar characteristics have emerged before and were infamously known as the Khawarij.  After the battle of Siffin which resulted into an arbitration between Imam Ali and Muawiyah, a group of people decided to split and later emerged as extremists with absolutely no sense of humanity.

This formation may have come as a shock to the common people back then for the Kharijites were those that prayed and fasted extensively, yet they were at their extreme when it came to beheading the innocent. Such characteristics converged into one person was hard to imagine, for how could someone who believes in God perform such heartless acts?

One such incident caused a deadly uproar which set Imam Ali to annihilate them once and for all. The Khawarij had initially returned to Imam Ali and wanted him to fight Muawiyah again. Imam refused for he was under an arbitration which happened because of them and also, Imam knew that a number of his former companions had been bought by Muawiyah. A battle at this point would result into complete bloodshed. This angered the Kharijites and they decided to move out and camped at an area called Nahrawan which was a few miles from Baghdad. They would then stop anyone who would pass by their area and question them on their beliefs.

A polytheist once passed but was let go upon asking. However, when a companion of Imam Ali by the name of Abdullah bin Khabbab passed by with his pregnant wife, he wasn’t spared. When the companion mentioned he was a Shia of Imam Ali, his body was decapitated and thrown into the sea. The Kharijites then did the unthinkable. They killed hs wife, split open her womb, and threwher and the unborn baby into the sea. This act caused thousands to leave their group and Imam Ali to set off to finish them. Only 9 were spared on the aftermath of the battle. One of them was the notorious ibn Mujim who killed Imam Ali on the 19th of Ramadhan.

The ascend of the Kharijites was forewarned by the Holy Prophet over 25 years before they came about and the Prophet’s description fits the terrorists of today as well. Hementioned;‘they recite the Qur’an during the night and fast during the day, but the spirit of the Qur’an does not leave their throats. They will leave our ranks like the arrow leaves the bow. They do not call themselves by their names but by their Kuniyah(agnomen) Their surnames are cities, not families. They will have long beards and long hair’.

The head of ISIS is known as Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. His first name is an agnomen and last, a city in Iraq. He and a bunch of his comrades have named themselves like this, not to mention the long beards and hair.

In a nutshell, the Daesh portray strikingly similar behaviours as the Khawarij of that time. Both pray and fast extensively, their Quran recitation is flawless, yet they still mercilessly kill the innocents and those who refuse to adhere to their beliefs.  Their every trait is exactly how the Prophet described them as.

This is what can happen if we aren’t firm on our beliefs, if we pick verses out of context, if we continue to remain ignorant. We need to apply the Prophet‘s final words of advice into our lives which are ‘I leave behind you two things, The Quran and My Ahlulbayt, stick to them and you’ll never go astray’. We need to act now and make a change for before we know it, we will have similar terror groups emerging from our very own communities.


Source of reference: Sayed Ammar Nakshwani -The life of Imam Ali, Battle of Nahrawaan

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About the author

Zamena Manekia Manji was born and raised in Dar es Salaam, a bookworm with a passion for writing that cemented at the age of 13. She served the community alongside her studies through the years and upon moving to Bujumbra , Burundi - continued doing the same. Over time her writings have evolved from fiction to Islamic, contemporary and historical writings. She has also worked on a number of scripts, ad writings, essays, personal statements for universities, and beyond as with each task, she tries to improve her writing skills. Through her words she hopes to shed some light into Islamic History, Islamic concepts and contemporary issues, slowly doing her part towards building a better and stronger society.

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