Module Three: The Second Fitnah – Section One: The Qurra’, the predecessors of the Khawarij

Section Three: The Stance of those who avoided the Fitnah, they form Majority of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum
November 30, 2020
Section Two: The Issue of Arbitration between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Muawiyah
November 30, 2020

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Module Three: The Second Fitnah

Section One: The Qurra’, the predecessors of the Khawarij[1]


The prophethood of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam started with the revelation of the Qur’an to him. The first verses that were revealed to him were:


اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ عَلَّمَ الْإِنْسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

Recite in the name of your lord who created- created men from a clinging substance. Recite and your lord is the most generous- who taught by the pen- Taught men that which he knew not.[2]


Thereafter, the descending of revelation continued upon him and he started to teach his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum the Qur’an.[3] After his migration to Madinah Munawwarah and the dominance of the Islamic message, Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam started to send his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum to various regions and tribes in order to invite the people to Islam and teach the people the Qur’an.[4]

Naturally, whoever embraced the faith was required to read the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, this is not withstanding that their shares in the reading and learning of the Qur’an were not the same. Hence, some of them were more learned in it than others due to them enjoying the extended company of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and also because of spending most of their time in reading the Qur’an and deliberating over its meanings and understanding its verses.

The earliest mention of the term Qurra’ (the reciters/those who are well-versed in the Qur’an) as a distinctive attribute for a specific people emerged at the end of the third year after hijrah, in the hadith of the Battle of Bi’r Ma’unah. Al Bukhari narrates from Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said:


بعث النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم سبعين رجلا لحاجة يقال لهم القراء. فعرض لهم حيان من بني سليم ورعل وذكوان عند بئر يقال لها: بئر معونة، فقال القوم: والله ما إياكم إردنا، إنما نحن مجتازون في حاجة للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقتلوهم، فدعا عليهم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم شهرا في صلاة الغداة، وذلك بدء القنوت.

Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent seventy men who were known as the Qurra’ for a need. Two tribes of the Banu Salim, the Ri’l, and the Dhakwan tribes, intercepted them at a well which was known as the well of Ma’unah. They told them, “By Allah! You are not the people we are intending. We are just passing by you in order to fulfil a need of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,” but they killed them. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam supplicated against them for a month in the Fajr Salah, and that was the beginning of the Qunut.[5]


And in another narration of al Waqidi it is stated that the Ri’l, Dhakwan, Usayyah, and Banu Lahyan tribes had sought reinforcements from Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam against an enemy. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, thus, sent to them seventy men of the Ansar whom we would dub the Qurra’ in their time. They would gather firewood during the day and would stand in prayer during the night. These people killed them and betrayed them. When Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam learnt of this he performed the Qunut in the Morning Prayer in which he supplicated against select tribes of the Arabs: Ri’l, Dhakwan, Usayyah, and the Banu Lahyan.[6]

Thereafter, we find mention of the Qurra’ in the era of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu when the battle intensified between the Muslims and the renegades in the Battle of Yamamah. Hence, it would be announced, “O the possessors of Surah Baqarah, O the people of the Qur’an, beautify the Qur’an with good actions.”[7] Subsequent to that with the martyrdom of a great number of Muslims in the Battle of Yamamah, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu made the following recommendation to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


إن القتل قد استحر يوم اليمامة بقراء القرآن في المواطن كلها؛ فيذهب قرآن كثير، وإني أرى أن تأمر بجمع القرآن

The killing of the Qurra’ was intense on the day of Yamamah in all the places. This will result in much of the Qur’an vanishing. I, thus, feel that you should order that the Qur’an be compiled.[8]


And during the Caliphate of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well the mention of the Qurra’ has featured as those who were the confidants of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people whose council he would seek.[9]

It is important to note that initially the term Qurra’ referred to those who read the Qur’an, memorised it, understood its meaning, deliberated over its verses, and disciplined themselves with its character. Ibn Khaldun has very beautifully defined them saying:


فقيل يومئذ لحملة القرآن القراء.فهم قراء كتاب الله والسنة المأثورة عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم.

At that time the bearers of the Qur’an were known as the Qurra’… They were the reciters of the Book of Allah and the narrated Sunnah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[10]


But very soon this definition of the Qurra’ became distorted and took on a whole new form. Now it was said to refer to those who had no understanding, abided by the literal implications of the texts, were hard in their opinions, and were extremists in their Din. To the extent that it does not perplex us to find in our early historical and hadith references that the Qurra’ were the people who instigated the people of Kufah against the Khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They also took part in the Battle of Siffin and thereafter shunned the arbitration. They became the Khawarij and went about wreaking havoc in the lands by killing, and plundering the wealth of the Muslims. They did all of this considering it to be permissible due to their claim that whoever opposed them was not a Muslim.

It is as though Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was seeing them from behind the veils of the unseen, for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had pre-informed him of their eventual condition in which they were going to rebel against the Ummah and shed their blood without any right. He, thus, warned against them, and gave glad tidings to those who will fight them and extirpate them.

Al Bukhari narrates in his Sahih the following from Sahl Ibn Hunayf radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول وأهوى بيده قبل العراق: يخرج منه قوم يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز تراقيهم، يمرقون من الإسلام مروق السهم من الرمية.

I heard Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying, whilst pointing his hand toward Iraq, “Here from will emerge a people who will read the Qur’an but it will not pass their collar bones. They will leave Islam just as an arrow leaves a targeted animal…”[11]


And Muslim narrates from Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said:


بينما نحن عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو يقسم قسما؛ أتاه ذو الخويصرة- وهو رجل من بني تميم- فقال: يا رسول الله اعدل. فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ويلك، ومن ويعدل إن لم أعدل، قد خبت وخسرت إن لم أعدل. فقال عمر بن الخطاب يا رسول الله! ائذن لي أضرب عنقه، قال رسول الله: دعه- فإن له أصحابا يحقر أحدكم صلاته مع صلاتهم، وصيامه مع صيامهم، يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز تراقيهم، يمرقون من الإسلام كما يمرق السهم من الرمية…

Whilst we were by Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he was distributing something, Dhu al Khuwaysirah, a man of the Banu Tamim, came to him and said, “O Rasul Allah, be just.”

Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Woe unto you! Who will be just if I am not just? I will be a failure and a loser if I do not deal with justice.”

‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “O Rasul Allah! Give me permission to slay him.”

Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Leave him, for he will have such comrades that one of you will undermine his salah when compared to their salah, and his fasting when compared to their fasting. They will read the Qur’an and it will not go pass their collar bones. They will leave Islam just as an arrow exits from a targeted animal.”[12]


In another narration it appears:


إن من ضئضئي هذا قوما يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز حناجرهم، يقتلون أهل الإسلام، ويدعون أهل الأوثان، يمرقون من الإسلام كما يمرق السهم من الرمية، لئن أدركتهم لأقتلنهم قتل عاد.

From the progeny of this person there will emerge a people who will read the Qur’an and it will not go pass their throats. They will kill the people of Islam and will leave the idol worshippers. They will leave Islam just as an arrow leaves a targeted animal. If I live on to see them, I will kill them just as the people of ‘Ad were killed.[13]


And Abu Dawood narrates from Abu Sa’id al Khudri and Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhuma that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:


سيكون في أمتي اختلاف وفرقة، قوم يحسنون القيل، وسيئون الفعل، يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز تراقيهم، يمرقون من الدين كما يمرق السهم من الرمية، لا يرجعون حتى يرتد على فوقه، هم شر الخلق، طوبى لمن قتلهم وقتلوه، يدعون إلى كتاب الله وليسوا منه في شيء، من قاتلهم كان أولى بالله منهم، قالوا، يا رسول الله، ما سيماهم؟ قال: التحليق.

In my Ummah there will be difference of opinion and disunity. There will be a people who will be good in speech but terrible in practice. They will read the Qur’an but it will not pass their collar bones. They will leave the Din just as an arrow leaves a targeted animal. Subsequent to that they will not return, till the arrow retreats to its ropes. They will be the worst of creation. Glad tidings for the one who will kill them and who they will kill. They will abandon the Book of Allah and will have nothing to do with it. Whoever will fight them will be closer to Allah than them.

They asked, “O Rasul Allah what is their special sign?”

He said, “Shaving.”[14]


And Ahmed has narrated from Abu Bakrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:


ألا إنه سيخرج من أمتي أقوام أشداء أحداء، ذليقة ألسنتهم بالقرآن، لا يجاوز تراقيهم، إلا فإذا رأيتموهم فأنيموهم، ثم إذا رأيتموهم فأنيموهم، فألمأجور قاتلهم.

Behold, there will emerge from my Ummah people who will be very hard and very stern. Their tongues will be moist with the recital of the Qur’an and it will not pass their collar bones. Behold, if you see them, then kill them. Thereafter, if you see them again, then kill them, for the one who will slay them will be rewarded.[15]


And in another narration which is narrated by Ahmed and al Bazzar the following appears:


أكثر منافقي أمتى قراؤها

Most of the hypocrites of my Ummah will be its Qurra’.[16]


And in Musnad al Bazzar the following is narrated from Sha’bi, from Masruq, from ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha:


هم شرار أمتى يقتلهم خيارامتى

They are the worst of my Ummah. The best in my Ummah will kill them.[17]


Likewise, ‘Ubaid ibn Rafi’ radiya Llahu ‘anhu the freed slave of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam states that he was with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu when the Haruriyyah rebelled. They chanted the slogan, ‘There is no rule but for Allah.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu retorted:


كلمة حق أريد بها باطل، إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وصف أناسا إني لأعرف صفتهم في هؤلاء، يقولون الحق بألسنتهم لا يجاوز هذا منهم-وأشار إلى حلقه- من أبغض خلق الله إليه.

This is a statement of truth whereby evil is intended. Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam described a people whose qualities I see in these people. They say the truth with their tongues but it does not pass this (pointing toward his throat) of theirs. They will be the most despised of the creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala to him…[18]


Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu also would consider them to be the worst of creation due to them applying the verses which were revealed regarding the disbelievers upon the believers.[19]

And Ahmed has narrated from Sayyar:[20]


جيء برؤوس الخوارج من قبل العراق، فنصبت عند باب المسجد-مسجد دمشق- وجاء أبو أمامة رضي الله عنه فركع ركعتين، ثم خرج إليهم، فنظر إليهم، فرفع رأسه فقال: شر قتلى قتلوا تحت أديم السماء

The leaders of the Khawarij from Iraq were brought and they were made to stand by the door of the masjid-the Masjid of Dimashq. Abu Umamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu came, performed two raka’at, came out to them, and looked at them. He then raised his head and said, “The worst people that can be killed under the sun.”[21]


Moving on, the problems of the Qurra’ had started toward the latter part of the Caliphate of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and their base was in Kufah. Very often their complaints used to reach him regarding the upright rulers which infuriated ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and caused him to supplicate against them. Al Fasawi has narrated in his Tarikh the following from Abu ‘Adhbah al Himsi:[22]


قدمت على عمر بن الخطاب رابع أربعة من الشام ونحن حجاج، فبينما نحن عند أتاه آت من قبل العراق، قأخبر أنهم قد حصبوا إمامهم، وقد كان عمر عوضهم منه مكان إمام كان قبله حصبوه، فخرج إلى الصلاة مغضبا فسها في صلاته، ثم أقبل على الناس فقال: هاهنا، من أهل الشام، فقمت أنا وأصحابي فقال: يا أهل الشام! تجهزوا لأهل العراق فإن الشيطان قد باض فيهم وفرخ، ثم قال: اللهم إنهم قد لبسوا علي فلبس عليهم، وعجل لهم الغلام الثقفي يحكم فيهم بحكم الجاهلية، لا يقبل من محسنهم، لا يتجاوز عن مسيئهم.

I came to ‘Umar being the fourth of the four and we were pilgrims. Whilst we were by him a person came to him from Iraq and informed him that they threw stones at their governor. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had already replaced the previous ruler whom they had also thrown stones at with the current one. Hence, he came out for Salah angrily and made a mistake in his Salah.

He thereafter faced the people and said, “Is there anyone from Sham in this congregation?”

I thus stood up with my companions.

He said, “O the people of Sham! Prepare for the people of Iraq, for Shaitan has laid eggs in them and has caused them to hatch as well.”

He continued, “O Allah they have confused me so confuse them, and make the Thaqafi youngster rule over them very soon. For he will rule them with the law of the pre-Islamic era, will not accept the good of their good people, and will not overlook the evil of their evil doers.”[23]


And al Fasawi has also narrated that when ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu once intended to visit Iraq, Ka’b al Ahbar told him:


إن بها عصاة الحق وكل داء عضال، فقيل له: ما الداء العضال؟ قال: أهواء مختلفة ليس لها شفاء.

“In it are the transgressors against the truth and every difficult (incurable) sickness.”

He asked, “What is the difficult sickness.”

He replied, “Various deviant tendencies for which there is no cure.”[24]


Whoever knows Kufah and has some background knowledge regarding its unique situation, how frequently it lodged complaints regarding its rulers, its Fitan, and its various sectarian groups, will understand the mind-set of those Bedouins who were controlled by harshness, obstinateness, and extremism in Din. Al Bukhari narrates the following from Jabir ibn Samurah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


قال شكا أهل الكوفة سعدا إلى عمر رضي الله عنه فعزله واستعمل عليهم عمارا فشكوا حتى ذكروا أنه لا يحسن يصلي فأرسل إليه فقال يا أبا إسحاق إن هؤلاء يزعمون أنك لا تحسن تصلي قال أبو إسحاق أما أنا والله فإني كنت أصلي بهم صلاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما أخرج عنها أصلي صلاة العشاء فأركد في الأوليين وأخف في الأخريين قال ذاك الظن بك يا أبا إسحاق، وفي رواية: فقال سعد: أتعلمني الأعراب الصلاة؟ فأرسل معه رجلا أو رجالا إلى الكوفة فسأل عنه أهل الكوفة ولم يدع مسجدا إلا سأل عنه ويثنون معروفا حتى دخل مسجدا لبني عبس فقام رجل منهم يقال له أسامة بن قتادة يكنى أبا سعدة قال أما إذ نشدتنا فإن سعدا كان لا يسير بالسرية ولا يقسم بالسوية ولا يعدل في القضية قال سعد أما والله لأدعون بثلاث اللهم إن كان عبدك هذا كاذبا قام رياء وسمعة فأطل عمره وأطل فقره وعرضه بالفتن وكان بعد إذا سئل يقول شيخ كبير مفتون أصابتني دعوة سعد قال عبد الملك فأنا رأيته بعد قد سقط حاجباه على عينيه من الكبر وإنه ليتعرض للجواري في الطرق يغمزهن.

The people of Kufah complained regarding Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thus, dismissed him and appointed ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his stead. They complained and went on to say that he does not perform Salah properly, referring to Sa’d. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu summoned him and said, “O Abu Ishaq, these people are claiming that you do not perform Salah properly.”

Abu Ishaq said, “By Allah, I would read with them the Salah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and would not leave it (to another method); I would lengthen the first two Raka’at and shorten the second two.”

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “That was my assumption regarding you, O Abu Ishaq.”

And in another narration Sa’d said, “Are these Bedouins going to teach me how to perform Salah?”[25]

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu thereafter sent a man with him to Kufah and this man asked the people of Kufah regarding him. He did not leave a single masjid but that he asked its people regarding him and they all praised him.

Then he entered the Masjid of the Banu ‘Abs and a man from them who was known as Usamah ibn Qatadah and whose agnomen was Abu Sa’dah, stood up and said, “Now that you have implored us, I should say: Sa’d would not march with the army, he would not distribute wealth equally, and would not pass judgements with justice.”

Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thus, said, “By Allah I will make three prayers, O Allah if this servant of yours is a liar and has only stood up to show off, then prolong his life and his poverty, and make him vulnerable to trials.”

Hence, subsequent to that when he would be asked, he would say, “An old man who is being trialled; the prayer of Sa’d afflicted me.”

‘Abdul Malik[26] says, “I saw him thereafter when his eyebrows had fallen upon his eyes due to old age and he would interfere with the slave girls and would wink at them.”[27]


It is also narrated that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, “How will they differ (i.e. the Muslims) when their Lord is one, their Book is one, and their Religion is one.” He replied:

إنه سيجيء قوم لا يفهمون القرآن كما نفهمه فيختلفون فيه، فإذا اختلفوا فيه اقتتلوا

There will come a people who will not understand the Qur’an as we do. They will as a result dispute in it and when they do so they will be at logger heads with one another.[28]


The truth of this became apparent during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu when droves of the Saba’iyyah marched to Madinah to besiege the Khalifah. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates the following:


بعثنا عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنه في خمسين راكبا، أميرنا محمد بن مسلمة الأنصاري، حتى أتينا ذا خشب، فإذا رجل معلق المصحف في عنقه، تذرف عيناه دموعا، بيده السيف، وهو يقول: ألا إن هذا-يعني المصحف- يأمرنا أن نضرب بهذا-يعني السيف- على ما في هذا-يعني ما في المصحف- فقال محمد بن مسلمة: اجلس، فقد ضربنا بهذا على ما في هذا قبلك، فجلس فلم يزل يكلمهم-أي ابن مسلمة حتى رجعوا.

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu dispatched us in a group of fifty riders and our leader was Muhammad ibn Maslamah al Ansari. We came to Dhu Khushub and suddenly there was a man with a Qur’an hanging around his neck who was crying and had a sword in his hand.

He was saying, “Behold this (referring to the Qur’an) orders us to strike this (referring to the sword) on the basis of what is in this (the Qur’an).”

Muhammad ibn Maslamah said to him, “Sit. We have already struck with this on the basis of what is in this before you.”

He then continued talking to them till they retracted.[29]


And al Hassan al Basri says:


كأني أنظر إلى عثمان يخطب يوم الجمعة إذ قام رجل تلقاء وجهه فقال: أسألك كتاب الله، فقال عثمان: أو ما لكتاب الله طالب غيرك؟ اجلس، فجلس، فقال الحسن من قبل نفسه، كذبت يا عدو نفسه، لو كنت تطلب كتاب الله لم تطلبه يوم الجمعة والإمام يخطب.

It is as though I am looking at ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu delivering a sermon on Friday when suddenly a man stands up in front of him and says, “I ask you the book of Allah.”

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu replies, “Is there no one to seek the Book of Allah other than you? Sit,” and so he sat down.

Hassan added from his side, “You are lying, O the enemy of yourself. If you really were seeking the Book of Allah, you would not seek it on Friday whilst the Imam was delivering a sermon.”[30]


And Hisham ibn ‘Urwah narrates the following from his uncle ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:


لقيني ناس ممن كان يطعن على عثمان ممن يرى رأي الخوارج، فراجعوني في رأيهم وحاجوني القرآن، قال فلم أقم معهم ولم أقعد، فرجعت إلى الزبير منكسرا فذكرت ذلك له فقال الزبير رضي الله عنه: إن القرآن قد تأوله كل قوم على رأيهم وحملوه عليه، ولعمر الله إن القرآن لمعتدل مستقيم، وما التقصير إلا من قبلهم، ومن طعنوا عليه من الناس فإنهم لا يطعنون على أبي بكر وعمر، فخذهم سنتهما وسيرتهما، قال عبد الله: فكأنما أيقظني ذلك، فلقيتهم فحاججتهم بسنة أبي بكر وعمر، فلما أخذتهم بذلك قهرتهم وضعف قولهم حتى لكأنهم يمضغون شخبهم.

Some people who held the views of the Khawarij and criticised ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu met me. They debated with me regarding their view and argued with me regarding the Qur’an. I was unable to stand with them or sit, and so I returned to al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu disheartened and told him of what transpired.

Al Zubair, thus, said, “The Qur’an is such that people interpret it according to their opinion and understood it in that sense. By Allah the Qur’an is moderate and straight, but the shortfall is on their path. Despite all those who they criticise they do not criticise Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, so inculpate them with the Sunnah of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.”

‘Abdullah says, “It was as if that woke me up. Hence, thereafter when I gripped them with that, I defeated them and their argument became weak and it seemed as though they were children who were chewing their sticks.”[31]


And ‘Abdur Razzaq narrates from Qatadah that Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:


كيف بكم إذا لبستكم فتنة يربو فيها الصغير، ويهرم فيها الكبير، قالوا: ومتى ذلك يا أبا عبد الرحمن؟ قال: إذا قلت أمناؤكم، وكثرت أمراؤكم، وقلت فقهاؤكم، وكثرت قراؤكم.

“What would your condition be when such a Fitnah envelopes you in which the young will grow and the elderly will age?”

They asked, “When will that be, O Abu ‘Abdur Rahman?”

He replied, “When your trustworthy men will be less, your governors will decrease, your scholars will diminish, and your Qurra’ will increase.”[32]


And Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from ‘Amr ibn Salamah[33] that he said:


كنا جلوسا عند باب عبد الله يعني ابن مسعود ننتظر أن يخرج إلينا، فخرج وقال: إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حدثنا أن قوما يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز تراقيهم يمرقون من الإسلام كما يمرق السهم من الرمية، وايم الله، لا أدري لعل أكثرهم منكم، فقال عمرو بن سلمة، فرأينا عامة أولئك يطاعنونا يوم النهروان مع الخوارج.

We were sitting at the door of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud waiting for him to come out to us. He came out and said, “Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us that a certain people will read the Qur’an but it will not pass their collar bones. They will leave Islam just as an arrow leaves a targeted animal. By Allah, I don’t know, probably most of them will be from you.”

‘Amr ibn Salamah said, “I saw most of them striking us on the day of Nahrawan with the Khawarij.”[34]


And Abu al Walid[35] says, “Salim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar asked me, “From where are you?” I said, “From Kufah.” He replied, “What an evil people, Saba’is and Haruris.”[36]

And Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma would say:

قوم لا يرجعون إلى حق ولا يقصرون عن باطل

A people who do not revert to the truth and do not desist from falsehood.[37]


Furthermore, in the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to the copious number of Qurra’ and their disparate dialects with which they read the Qur’an, dispute emerged regarding the recitation of the Qur’an between the various cities. In fact, disputes ensued even in the people of one city (as to which recitation was correct and which not). Ibn Abi Dawood al Sijistani narrates an incident regarding the disputing of people in the recitation of the Qur’an from Yazid ibn Muawiyah al Nakha’i:[38]


إني لفي المسجد مسجد الكوفة زمن الوليد بن عقبة في حلقة فيها حذيفة… إذ هتف هاتف: من كان يقرأ على قراءة أبي موسى فليأا الزاوية التى عند أبواب كندة، ومن كان يقرأ على قراءة عبد الله بن مسعود فليأت هذه الزاوية التى عند دار عبد الله…

I was in the masjid of Kufah during the governorship of Walid ibn ‘Uqbah in a gathering in which Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was present… Suddenly an announcer announced, “Whoever reads the Qur’an as per the reading of Abu Musa should come to the corner which is by the doors of Kindah, and whoever reads the Qur’an as per the reading of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud should come to this corner which is by the house of ‘Abdullah…”[39]


This dispute between the Qurra’ was almost about to cause a Fitnah, for the people of every city considered the copy of their teacher from whom they copied their copies and learnt their recital to be correct. This dispute clearly came to the fore in the battle of the Bab in the year 30 A.H. What happened was that in this time the Qurra’ of Kufah, Basrah, Hims, and Dimashq got together. And when Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw the intensity of the disputing between them and the dangers that it entailed he hurriedly went to the Khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and suggested to him that he unite the Muslims upon one master copy of the Qur’an, send replicas thereof to the various cities, and that all the other individual and personal copies be taken away from the people and not be circulated.[40]

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu found this suggestion to be sound and executed it. He sent replicas of the master copy to the various cities and they were accepted. However, he was faced with some remonstration from some of the Qurra’, especially the students of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu and those who agreed with them. Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu warned them of the repercussions of their dissent, but they were very rude to him in their response. He, thus, wrote to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and sought permission from him to return to Madinah. He informed him that he despised staying in Kufah due to the fear that hearsay, false news, and formalities would soon spread in its people.[41]

This point marked the beginning of the emergence of remonstration against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his governors in Kufah.

Likewise, the Qurra’ are also described as a distinguished group of people who had specific political leanings in the year 33 A.H, during the governorship of Sa’id ibn al ‘As. Hence, Saif ibn ‘Umar narrates that when Sa’id came to Kufah he summoned its prominent men who were men of the challenging days and the Battle of Qadisiyyah. He addressed them saying:


أنتم وجوه من وراءكم، والوجه ينبئ عن الجسد، فأبلغونا حاجة ذي حاجة، وخلة ذي خلة، وأدخل معهم من يحتمل من اللواحق والروادف، وخلص بالقراء والمتسمين في سمره، فكأنما كانت الكوفة يبسا شملته النار، فانقطع إلى ذلك الضرب ضربهم، وفشت القالة والإذاعة.

You are the face of those whom you represent, and the face informs regarding the rest of the body. So, convey to us the need of the needy and the poverty of those who are poor.

He also included with them those whose company he could bear of their followers and subordinates. He would sit in privacy at night with the Qurra’ and the elite. It is as though Kufah was dry and a fire had enveloped it. People of similar inclinations started to incline toward this class of people, and as a result much hearsay and information started to spread.[42]


As for al Baladhuri he cites this narration from Abu Mikhnaf with the following words:


لما عزل عثمان رضي الله عنه الوليد بن عقبة عن الكوفة ولاها سعيد بن العاص، فكان يجالس قراءها ووجوه أهلها ويسامرهم.

When ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu dismissed al Walid ibn ‘Uqbah from Kufah, he appointed in place of him Sa’id ibn al ‘As. He would sit with the Qurra’ of Kufah, its prominent members, and would hold conversations with them at night.[43]


Thereafter, Ibn Shabbah narrates the bickering which occurred between Sa’id ibn al ‘As and these people which eventually prompted them to hit his guard. Sa’id wrote to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu informing him of what had transpired:


إن قبلي قوما يدعون القراء، وهم سفهاء، وثبوا على صاحب شرطي فضربوه ظالمين له، وشتموني واستخفوا بحقي، منهم عمرو بن زرارة، ومالك بن الحارث-الأشتر- وحرقوص بن زهير، وشريح بن أوفى.

Here by me there are a people who are called the Qurra’, whereas in actual fact they are foolish. They pounced upon a policeman and beat him unjustly. They swore at me and undermined my right. Some of them are: ‘Amr ibn Zurarah,[44] Malik ibn al Harith, Hurqus ibn Zuhayr,[45] and Shurayh ibn Awfa…”[46]


‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu wrote a letter addressing it to the aforementioned individuals wherein he ordered them to go to Sham and take part in the campaigns there. And he wrote the following to Sa’id:

إني قد كفيتك مؤنتهم فأقرئهم كتابي، فإنهم لا يخالفون إن شاء الله، وعليك بتقوى الله وحسن السيرة.

I have sufficed you their burden. So read my letter to them and they will not oppose, if Allah wills. And hold on to the fear of Allah and good conduct.


Sa’id, thus, read the letter to them. They set off for Dimashq. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu honoured them and said to them:


إنكم قدمتم بلدا لا يعرف أهله إلا الطاعة، فلا تجادلوهم فتدخلوا الشك قلوبهم

You have come to a city whose people do not know anything but compliance. So do not debate with them, for you will enter doubt into their hearts.


‘Amr ibn Zurarah and al Ashtar replied:

إن الله قد أخذ على العلماء موثقا أن يبينوا علمهم للناس، فإن سألنا سائل عن شيء نعلمه لم نكتمه

Allah has taken a pledge from the scholars that they will explicate their knowledge to the people. Hence, if someone asks us something which we know we will not conceal it.


Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu remarked:

قد خفت أن تكونوا مرصدين للفتنة

I fear that you will be instigators of Fitnah.[47]


Ibn Shabbah narrates from Kumayl ibn Ziyad al Nakha’i[48] that he said:


أول من دعا إلى خلع عثمان عمرو بن زرارة، وكان من القراء

The first person to call for the dismissal of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was ‘Amr ibn Zurarah, and he was from the Qurra’.[49]


And Ibn Abi Shaybah has narrated from Bishr ibn Shaghaf[50] the following:


سألني عبد الله بن سلام عن الخوارج، قلت: هم أطول الناس صلاة وأكثرهم صوما غير أنهم إذا خلفوا الجسر أهرقوا الدماء وأخذوا الأموال، فقال:- أي عبد الله بن سلام-: أما إني قد قلت لهم: لا تقتلوا عثمان، دعوه فوالله لئن تركتموه أحدى عشرة ليلة ليموتن على فراشه-يعني يجدون ذلك في التوراة- فلم يفعلوا، فإنه لم يقتل نبي إلا قتل به سبعون ألفا من الناس، ولم يقتل خليفة إلا قتل به خمسة وثلاثون ألفا.

‘Abdullah ibn Salam radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked me regarding the Khawarij. I said, “They perform the lengthiest Salah and keep the most fasts, but when they leave the bridge behind them, they shed blood and usurp wealth.”

‘Abdullah ibn Salam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thus, said, “Behold! I had said to them, ‘Do not kill ‘Uthman. Leave him, for by Allah if you leave him for just eleven nights he will pass away upon his bed (referring to what appears in the Torah), but they did not listen. No Nabi was assassinated but that in lieu of him seventy thousand people were killed, and no Khalifah was ever killed but that thirty-five thousand people were killed in return.”[51]


The most evident example of the aforementioned is Hurqus ibn Zuhayr. He was from the Qurra’ who besieged ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. And when ‘Aisha, Talhah, and al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum set out to Basrah in order to seek retribution for the blood of ‘Uthman an announcer announced, “The people in whose tribes there were people who fought against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, they should bring them to us.” They were brought and subsequently killed. The only person who managed to escape from the people of Basrah was Hurqus ibn Zuhayr who was able to hide due to the Bani Sa’d protecting him. Thereafter, after the incident of the arbitration he joined the Khawarij in Nahrawan. When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought them the army of Ibn Rabi’ah al Kinani, one of the comrades of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, attacked him and killed him.[52]

Ibn Hazm says the following whilst describing the Khawarij:


وأسلافهم-أي القراء-كانوا أعرابا قرؤوا القرآن قبل أن يتفقهوا في السنن الثابتة عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يكن فيهم أحد من الفقهاء ولا من أصحاب أحد من علماء الصحابة، كعمر وعلي وابن مسعود وعائشة ومعاذ وأبي الدرداء وأبي موسى وزيد بن ثابت وابن عمر وابن عباس وسلمان وغيرهم. ولذا تجدهم يكفر بعضهم بعضا عند أقل نازلة تنزل بهم من دقائق الفتيا وصغارها.

Their predecessors, i.e. the Qurra’, were Bedouins who read the Qur’an before gaining a good understanding of the established teachings of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. There was not amongst them any jurist, not anyone from the scholars of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, the likes of ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, ‘Aisha, Muaz, Abu al Darda’, Abu Musa, Zaid ibn Thabit, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhum, amongst others. That is why you will find them excommunicating each other because of little issues which confronts them from the intricacies and the minor issues of Fatwa.[53]


As for Ibn Hajar, he describes them as the roots of the Fitnah or at least one of its many causes. He says:


وأصل هذه الفتنة أو من أسبابها أن بعض أهل العراق أنكروا سيرة بعض أقارب عثمان، فطعنوا على عثمان بذلك، وكان يقال لهم: القراء لشدة اجتهادهم في التلاوة والعبادة إلا أنهم كانوا يتأولون القرآن على غير المراد منه، ويستبدون برأيهم، ويتنطعون في الزهد والخشوع وغير ذلك.

The roots of the Fitnah, or one of its many causes, was that some people of Iraq condemned the conduct of the some of the relatives of ‘Uthman. They, thus, criticised ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu because of them. They were known as the Qurra’ due to their extreme exertion in the recitation of the Qur’an and in acts of worship. However, they would interpret the Qur’an with interpretations not intended in the wording of the Qur’an, hold arbitrary opinions, and would be difficult in asceticism and piety and other matters.[54]


What is worth mentioning is that these Qurra’ who afterwards became the Khawarij played a very pertinent role in the Caliphate of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. For they took part to a very large extent in fuelling bickering and disunity amidst the army of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. So, although they were the most devout in worship, and recited the Qur’an more than anyone else; however, quarrelling was deeply rooted in them and was their nature and way. Whatever Amir al Mu’minin would do they would oppose him, as though they only intended to oppose him in order to disunite the Muslims, not to get clarification regarding the truth or to constrain themselves to that in which obedience was compulsory upon them.

There is no doubt that an army that is permeated with this type of bickering, which at times even resulted in some excommunicating others, can never be capable of victory. And even if it is victorious, but if the Khalifah was surrounded by people of this sort who excommunicated him and the Muslims, would stability ever be achieved or would new wars erupt due to new causes?

Probably this was the reason behind the triumph of the people of Sham, for their matter was stable, and it was within the reach of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to unite the Muslims upon one word.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that this negative stance which the Qurra’ held against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu proved to be a decisive catalyst for the shifting of rulership from the Rightly Guided Khalifas to the Umayyads after the murder of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu at the hands of Ibn Muljam, the Khariji.

But the shifting of the Caliphate to the Umayyads did not put an end to all the problems, for the spirit of opposition continued amidst the Khawarij in very high and extreme proportions, in one-on-one encounters and in warfare. They were the cause of great loss for the Muslims in their lives, their wealth, and their unity.


NEXT⇒ Section Two: The Issue of Arbitration between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Muawiyah

[1] As an additional note, I have not used the term the Qurra’, the predecessors of the Khawarij’ in it absolute sense. My reference by its usage is only to those who did not understand the Sunan and took the text of the Qur’an in its literal sense. They interpreted them due to the influence of their extreme fanaticism and sternness in the Din. As a result of which they excommunicated the Muslims, shed blood, and desecrated the sanctity of the Muslims. As for the majority of the Qurra’, the scholars, from amongst the Sahabah, the Tabi’in, and their Tabi’in they were exemplars of moderation in opinion and in action. They were lamp posts that should be followed in their jurisprudence, their deep understanding, and their sound deductions.

[2] Surah al ‘Alaq: 1-5.

[3] Sahih al Bukhari, 6/102, chapter regarding the virtues of the Qur’an.

[4] Ibn Hisham: al Sirah al Nabawiyyah, 3/160.

[5] Sahih al Bukhari, 5/41, chapter of Maghazi (the campaigns of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[6] Al Waqidi: al Maghazi, 1/347.

[7] Al Baladhuri: Futuh al Buldan, p. 99.

[8] Sahih al Bukhari, 8/119, chapter of Ahkam (rulings).

[9] Ibid, 8/141, chapter of holding on to the Sunnah.

[10] Ibn Khaldun: al Muqaddamah, 2/1048, (with the research and annotations of ‘Abdul Wahid Wafi.

[11] Sahih al Bukhari, 7/165-166, chapter of Zakat.

[12] Sahih Muslim, 7/165-166, chapter of Zakat.

[13] Ibid. 7/192.

[14] Sunan Abi Dawood, 4/243, chapter regarding fighting the Khawarij. The annotator of Jami’ al Usul has deemed it Sahih, 10/89. And al Albani has deemed it Sahih in Sahih Sunan Abi Dawood, 3/903, Hadith: 3987.

[15] Musnad Ahmed, 5/44.

[16] Musnad Ahmed, 2/175. And al Haythami has said in Majma’ al Zawa’id, “It is narrated from Ahmed and al Tabarani; the transmitters of one of its chains of transmission are reliable.” See (6/229). And Ahmed Shakir has also deemed its chain Sahih in his annotation of the Musnad under the hadiths: 6633, 6637, and 6634 of 1/122-124. And al Albani has also deemed it authentic in al Silsilah al Sahihah, p. 750.

[17] Ibn Hajar: al Fath, 12/286. He has deemed its chain Hassan.

[18]Sahih Muslim, 7/173, chapter of Zakat.

[19] Sahih al Bukhari, 8/51, chapter regarding demanding repentance from the renegades.

[20] Sayyar al Umawi al Dimashqi was the freed slave of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He narrated from Abu al Darda’, Abu Umamah, and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Al Dhahabi has said, “Reliable.” And Ibn Hajar has said, “Truthful. From the third generation.” See: al Dhahabi: al Kashif, 1/332; Ibn Hajar: al Taqrib, 1/344.

[21] Musnad Ahmed (with the format of al Sa’ati), 23/161. The annotator Ahmed ‘Abdur Rahman al Banna has deemed its men reliable.

[22] Abu ‘Adhbah. Al Bukhari has made mention of his in the section of people who were more commonly known by their agnomens. He says, “Abu ‘Adhbah from ‘Umar, “O Allah make the youngster of Thaqif rule over them very soon,” referring to the people of Iraq. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 7/441; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 9/62; al Fasawi: al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, 2/529.

[23] Al Fasawi: al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, 2/755.

[24] Ibid, 2/751.

[25] Sahih Muslim:, 4/173, chapter of Salah.

[26] This is ‘Abdul Malik ibn ‘Umair. His biography has passed. Please CLICK HERE.

[27] Sahih al Bukhari, 1/183-184, chapter of Salah.

[28] Ibn Kathir: al Bidayah, 7/276.

[29] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, p. 321.

[30] Ibid. p. 329.

[31] Tarikh Dimashq, p. 506.

[32] Musannaf ‘Abdur Razzaq, 11/359-360.

[33] ‘Amr ibn Salamah ibn al Harith al Hamdani al Kindi al Kufi. Ibn Sa’d has made mention of him in the first generation of the Tabi’in from Kufah. And al ‘Ijli said, “He is a Tabi’i from Kufah who is reliable.” He passed away in 85 A.H/704 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/171; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Saghir, 1/189; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 364; Ibn Ma’in: al Tarikh, 2/445; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 8/42.

[34] Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/306.

[35] Did not come across his biography in the references I have at my disposal.

[36] Al Fasawi: al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, 2/758.

[37] Ibid. 2/756.

[38] Yazid ibn Muawiyah al Nakha’i al Kufi. The worshipper. Al ‘Ijli said, “Reliable.” And Ibn Hibban has deemed him reliable and he has said, “He was killed whilst fighting in Persia.” Al Bukhari has narrated the story of his martyrdom in his al Tarikh al Kabir. See: al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 3/2/355; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 481; Ibn Abi Hatim: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 9/287; al Dhahabi: al Kashif, 3/250; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 11/360.

[39] Al Sijistani: al Masahif, p. 11.

[40] Ibn Shabbah: Tarikh al Madinah al Munawwarah, 3/991.

[41] Al Maliqi: al Tamhid wa al Bayan, p. 50-51.

[42] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 4/279, 317.

[43] Al Baladhuri: Ansab al Ashraf, 1/528.

[44] I did not come across his biography.

[45] He is from the Khawarij who fought against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the day of Nahrawan. See: Tarikh Khalifah, p. 197..

[46] He is from the Khawarij who fought against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the day of Nahrawan. See: Ibid.

[47] Ibn Shabbah: Tarikh al Madinah, 3/1141.

[48] Kumayl ibn Ziyad al Nakha’i ibn Nuhayk al Nakha’i al Kufi. Ibn Sa’d said regarding him, “He witnessed Siffin with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and was an honourable who was obeyed by his people. Al ‘Ijli said, “A Tabi’i from Kufah who is reliable.” And al Mada’ini has considered him to be from the ascetics and the Qurra’ of Kufah. Likewise, Ibn Hibban has deemed him reliable. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/179; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 398; Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 5/341; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 8/447.

[49] Ibn Shabbah: Tarikh al Madinah al Munawwarah, 3/1146.

[50] Bishr ibn Shagaf al Dabbi al Basri, from the Tabi’in. He has narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, and ‘Abdullah ibn Salam radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. ‘Uthman al Darimi has quoted Ibn Ma’in saying, “Reliable.” And al ‘Ijli said, “A Tabi’i from Basrah who reliable.” Likewise, Ibn Hibban has made mention of him in his al Thiqat. See: al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/2/76; al Darimi: al Tarikh, p. 78; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 81; Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 4/66; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 1/452.

[51] Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/313.

[52] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/89.

[53] Ibn Hazm: al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Nihal, 4/156.

[54] Ibn Hajar: al Fath, 12/283.

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