Kharijites

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Kharijites

 

the adherents of a Muslim sect. The Kharijite movement arose during a period of intense struggle for power within the caliphate—specifically, in A.D. 657, when some of the caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib’s soldiers (the descendants of nomadic Arab tribesmen) rebelled against the nobility’s increasing political dominance and its seizure of communal Muslim lands. These soldiers became known as Kharijis, or Kharijites. Although Ali broke up their movement in 658, their ranks continued to be replenished, mainly by members of the lower classes, including both Muslims from the Arab tribes and non-Arab converts to Islam. There were incessant Kharijite uprisings in the Basra and Kufa regions from 660 to 681.

The Kharijites called for equality among all Muslims, the preservation of communal land ownership, and the election of the caliph by the community; the community would have the right to depose the caliph, and any true Muslim was to be considered eligible to fill the office. As the result of a schism in 684, the Kharijites broke up into various subsects in the late seventh century—the Ibadiyah, or Ibadites, the Azariqah, and the Sufrites. While the Ibadites shunned armed struggle, rebellions by the Azariqites (and, beginning in 695, by the Sufrites) continued in Iraq and in Khuzestan until 697.

Increasing feudal oppression in the eighth century provoked uprisings by the Ibadites in southern Arabia and by other Kharijite sects in Persia and Iraq. In the mid-eighth century the Kharijite movement spread to the tribes of North Africa, leading to uprisings in Morocco and Ifriqiya (northeastern Africa); the various imamates founded by the Kharijites in North Africa, such as the Rustamid imamate in Tahart (modern Tiaret) and the imamate of Sijilmassa, were destroyed by the Fatimids in 909.

Members of the Ibadite branch of the Kharijites live in modern Oman, in several North African states, and in some of the other Arab countries.

REFERENCES

Beliaev, E. A. Musul’manskoe sektantstvo. Moscow, 1957.
Churakov, M. V. “Kharidzhitskie vosstaniia v Magribe.” In the collection Palestinskii sbornik, fase. 7(70). Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Petrushevskii, I. P. Islam v Irane v VII-XV vv. Leningrad, 1966. (Bibliography.)

M. V. CHURAKOV