Who were the Kharijites and why do you think they inspire contemporary radical Islamic groups?
The Kharijites are among the earliest Islamic sects that developed during the religious controversy over the caliphate. The third caliph, Uthman was murdered and was succeeded by Ali. Ali faced opposition from Muawiyah, the governor of Syria who wanted to avenge Uthman’s murder. Ali agreed to arbitrate and make peace with Muawiyah. Ali’s decision angered many of his followers who formed a rebellion against him. The rebels, the Kharijites, were opposed because arbitration was against Qua ran dictum.
The Kharijites left and moved to Harura under the leadership of Ibn Wahb. The Kharijites believed in upholding all Islam’s beliefs and rules. Those who broke the rules would be considered as apostates or would be executed. They waged war against various Muslim governments and eventually assassinated both Ali, Muawiyah and all those who supported the arbitration. They believed in democracy: that the caliph did not necessarily have to be from the Quraysh tribe, but the caliph should be one with good qualities and uphold Islamic values.
The Kharijites have had their effect on contemporary Islam. They have brought about Muslims, the Khawajir, who bomb and kill anyone who is a threat to Islam or who does not uphold all Islam’s views (including other Muslims).