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Who were the Kharijites

The truce having been concluded on 13th Safar, 37 A.H. at San, when Ali was returning homeward with his army, a body of 12,000 men had separated themselves from the ranks and marched at some little distance in the same direction as the main body towards Kufa. They murmured at the compromise agreed upon, and were even loud in their reproaches to one another for having abandoned the cause of the Faith to the ungodly compromise. These were the Kharijites (Kharijite means one who rebels against the established tenets of a religion, a votary or schismatic or seceder), who had refused fighting at the battlefield after the trick played by the enemy, and had pressed the Caliph to accept the arbitration and the particular arbitrator. Approaching Kufa, these seceders encamped at a village named Harora in the vicinity of Kufa. Their religious notions were developed into fanatic zeal that the Believers were all of equal standard and nobody should exercise authority over another.

They formulated their creed with the phrase 'La hukm ilia lillah,' i.e. no judgment but Lord's alone; consequently there should be no Caliph, nor an oath of allegiance sworn to any human being. They blamed Ali as having sinned in consenting to refer to human judgment that which belonged to God alone, and demanded of him repentance for his apostasy. They said that Ali ought not to have given quarter to the enemy, who could be pursued and put to the sword. Proceeding to their camp, the Caliph firmly remonstrated with them, that they had given wrong interpretation to the phrase 'La hukm ilia lillah' and that in accepting the arbitration he had followed the provisions contained in the Quran ; and that he had committed no sin to repent of. He pointed out that the sin lay at their own door, because with their persistent obstinacy they refused to continue fighting with the enemy and that with their revolting attitude they forced him to call back Malik-al-Ashtar, who was beating the enemy back to their camp and was at the point of gaining a complete victory; and that they pressed him to accept the arbitration and the particular arbitrator. He further added that he however expected arbitrators were to be fully bound by the terms of the truce to deliver their judgment righteously in accordance with the Quran ; and that. if the judgment turned out to be in disregard of righteousness, he would at once reject it and would again set out against the enemy. Concluding, he said that it was wrong of them if they desired him to break the truce, which they themselves had driven him to arrange.

To all this reasoning they simply answered, 'we do admit of our sin, but we have repented of our apostasy; and thou must repent of it likewise.' To this Ali replied that he being a true believer he would not belie himself by admitting his apostasy.

Adapted from: "Ali, the Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"

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