History and Sources

Were there any other early sectarian developments?

Several other sects made their views known early on. When Ali was doing battle with the Umayyads to claim his rights to the caliphate, a number of his troops seceded on the grounds that Ali was too lax in his appeal to religious principles in the conduct of battle. They judged Ali a serious sinner who was no longer worthy of the name Muslim. That group became known as the Kharijites (or Khawarij, “those who secede”), and a small remnant of their several factions live today largely in Oman on the Persian Gulf. Several other groups also expressed their opinions as to how far one might go in judging another person’s suitability for true membership in the Muslim community. One of the more influential believed that only God could judge a person’s soul, and that it was therefore best to postpone judgment on the matter. They were known as the Murji’ites or “Postponers.”


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