Muhakkima (Arabic: محكمة) and al-Haruriyya (Arabic: الحرورية) refer to the Muslims who rejected arbitration between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mu'awiya at the Battle of Siffin in 657 CE. The name Muhakkima derives from their slogan la hukma illa li-llah, meaning "judgment (hukm) belongs to God alone". The name al-Haruriyya refers to their withdrawal from Ali's army to the village of Harura' near Kufa. This episode marked the start of the Kharijite movement, and the term muhakkima is often also applied by extension to later Kharijites.
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In recent times, some adherents of Ibadism, which is commonly identified as a moderate offshoot of the Kharijite movement, have argued that the precursors of both Ibadism and extremist Kharijite sects should be properly called Muhakkima and al-Haruriyya rather than Kharijites.
Battle of Siffin
During the Battle of Siffin, Mu'awiya proposed to Ali to settle their dispute through arbitration, with each side appointing referees who would pronounce judgment according to the Quran. While most of Ali's army accepted the proposal, one group, mostly from the tribe of Tamim, vehemently objected to the arbitration, seeing it as setting human judgment above God's word. They expressed their protest by proclaiming that "there is no judge but God and there is no judgment but God's" (la hakama illa llah, wa-la hukma illa li-llah). From this expression, which they were the first to use, they became known as al-muhakkima, or al-muhakkima al-ula (lit. the first muhakkima). The term may have originally referred ironically to their rejection of arbitration, since the word muhakkim means "arbitrer".
The initial group of dissenters went to the village of Harura' near Kufa, where they elected an obscure soldier named Ibn Wahb al-Rasibi as their leader. This gave rise to their alternative name, al-Haruriyya. Other defectors from Kufa, where Ali's army had returned awaiting the outcome of arbitration, gradually joined the dissenters, while Ali persuaded some dissenters to return to Kufa. However, when the arbitration ended in a verdict unfavorable to Ali, a large number of his followers left Kufa to join Ibn Wahb, who had meanwhile moved his camp to another location along the Nahrawan canal. At this point, the Kharijites proclaimed Ali's caliphate to be null and void and began to denounce as infidels anyone who did not accept their point of view. From Nahrawan they began to agitate against Ali and raid his territories. When attempts at conciliation failed, Ali's forces attacked the Kharijites in their camp, inflicting a heavy defeat on them at the Battle of Nahrawan in 658. This bloodshed sealed the split of Kharijites from Ali's followers, and Kharijite calls for revenge ultimately led to Ali's assassination in 661.
The early dissenters wished to secede from Ali's army in order to uphold their principles. They held that the third caliph Uthman had deserved his death because of his faults, and that Ali was the legitimate caliph, while Mu'awiya was a rebel. They believed that the Quran clearly stated that as a rebel Mu'awiya was not entitled to arbitration, but rather should be fought until he repented, pointing to the following verses:
If two parties of the faithful fight each other, then conciliate them. Yet if one is rebellious to the other, then fight the insolent one until it returns to God 's command. (Quran 49:9)
Fight them until there is no fitnah (temptation), and religion is wholly unto God (Quran 8:39-40)
The dissenters held that in agreeing to arbitration Ali committed the grave sin of rejecting God's judgment (hukm) and attempted to substitute human judgment for God's clear injunction, which prompted their motto la hukma illa li-llah (judgement belongs to God alone). They also believed that Muslims own allegiance only to the Quran and the sunna of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Umar, and denied that the right to the imamate should be based on close kinship with Muhammad. These beliefs found expression in their departure from Ali's army.
Khaled Abou El Fadl writes,
Anecdotal reports about the debates between 'Ali and the Khawarij reflect unmistakable tension about the meaning of legality and the implications of the rule of law. In one such report members of the Khawarij accused 'Ali of accepting the judgment and dominion (hakimiyya) 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. [... In] the historical context, the Khawarij's sloganeering was initially a call for the symbolism of legality and the supremacy of law that later descended into an unequivocal radicalized demand for fixed lines of demarcation between what is lawful and unlawful.
Ibadis and Kharijites
Both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars tend to refer to Ibadis as "moderate Kharijites", and Ibadis are commonly identified in academic sources as an offshoot of the Kharijite movement, which broke away from more extremist Kharijites currents in the late 7th century CE. Most scholars identify Kharijites as those who seceded from Ali's army because of their rejection of arbitration. Ibadis have traditionally used the adjective Wahbi (referring to Ibn Wahb al-Rasibi) to describe their denomination and strongly identified with ahl al-Nahrawan (the people of Nahrawan). Until recently, some Ibadis also identified Ibadism as a sect of Kharijism. During the 20th century, Ibadis moved away from sectarianism and favored a rapprochement with Sunni Islam. Over time, Ibadis grew uncomfortable with the Kharijite label, and contemporary Ibadis strongly object to being classified as Kharijites. In their objections, some modern Ibadi authors point to the differences between Ibadi doctrine and some of the more extreme beliefs commonly associated with Kharijites. The Ibadi scholar Nasir ibn Silayman al-Sabi'i has argued that the precursors of Ibadis should be called al-Muhakkima and al-Haruriyya, and that the first clear use of the term khawarij (Kharijites) as a proper noun appears only after the split of Ibadis from more extremist Kharijite sects.
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- Abou El Fadl, Khaled (2004), Cohen, Joshua; Chasman, Deborah, eds., Islam and the challenge of democracy, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-11938-4
- Hoffman, Valerie Jon (2012). The Essentials of Ibadi Islam. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815650843.
- John L. Esposito, ed. (2014). "Ibadis". The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Keith Lewinstein, Racha (2013). "Ibadis". In Gerhard Böwering, Patricia Crone. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought. Princeton University Press.
- Valerie J. Hoffman (2009). J. E. Lindsay, J. Armajani, eds. Historical Memory and Imagined Communities: Modern Ibāḍī Writings on Khārijism. Historical Dimensions of Islam. Princeton: Darwin Press. pp. 187–188.
- Valerie J. Hoffman (2009). J. E. Lindsay, J. Armajani, eds. Historical Memory and Imagined Communities: Modern Ibāḍī Writings on Khārijism. Historical Dimensions of Islam. Princeton: Darwin Press. pp. 193–195.