Khawarij: Has the destructive ideology reincarnated? [1 of 3]

One of the most horrendous events in the Islamic history happened on 1st of Muharram the 1400th Islamic year (20th November 1979), when the Holiest Grand Mosque of Muslims the Kaa’ba was attacked and besieged by a fake Mahdi supported by one Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi. Mecca’s siege lasted two weeks, causing hundreds of deaths and inflaming human rage all around the globe





by Ahmed Raza


Pakistan in its 63 years of existence has gone through many natural and far more than that, men made disasters (Wars). One of such disasters Pakistan is still facing – it has no designated battlefield – the enemy has no uniform- the whole country is a battleground now. We have lost more than 15,000 Pakistanis in this war of unknown killing zone. Is this not the time to ponder and study the roots of this horrifying enemy? One, who has transformed us in a society of chauvinistic and psychologically depressed human beings, yes, We are very late to respond but nations do commit mistakes-we all did it-it’s time to react to the realized fact. Rebirth of Khawarijs (The Deviators) on this planet is the case in discussion here, especially when they are now entrenched against us in the silhouette of terrorist organizations like TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan).

For analytical assessment of their agenda it’s always better to refer to history.

It was 1st Muharram of 1400th Islamic year (20th November 1979)-Mecca was praying as usual in the Grand mosque Kaa’ba. Just after the Imam had finished his prayers some young Arabs equipped with automatic weapons entered the arena. All the gates were closed leading to the inner part of the mosque Mataf. Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi presented a young man aged approx 25 years, Muhammad bin Abdullah as Mahdi – the crowd was stunned-they took over the control of the Grand mosque within minutes as professional trained soldiers…………………….

One of the most horrendous events in the Islamic history had happened, the Holiest Grand Mosque of Muslims the Kaa’ba was attacked and besieged by a fake Mahdi supported by Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi. It shook the very foundation of Al Saud Kingdom. Mecca’s bloody siege lasted two weeks, causing hundreds of deaths and inflaming human rage all around the globe.

The Al Saud family that today rules the Kingdom is a member of the Anizah, a tribal confederation historically located in the Najd, or Central Arabian Peninsula. Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, captured Najd and eastern coast of Arabia in 1912. Thirteen years after the capture of Najd in 1925 the forces of Ibn Saud also captured the holy city of Mecca from Sharif Hussein, ending 700 years of Hashemite rule.
On 10 January 1926, Ibn Saud proclaimed himself King of the Hejaz in the Great Mosque at Mecca. On 20 May 1927, the British government signed the Treaty of Jeddah, which abolished the Darin protection agreement and recognized the independence of the Hejaz and Najd with Ibn Saud as its ruler.

To understand the reasons leading to this horrific episode, it is imperative to look into annuls of recent history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with emphasis on the ruling family of Al Saud.

…………..The Al Saud family that today rules the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member of the Anizah, a Northern Arabian or Adnani, tribal confederation historically located in the Najd, or Central Arabian Peninsula. The family derives its name from its 18th Century ancestor, Muhammad bin Saud, who joined forces with an austere Islamic reformer, Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab, in a military religious alliance for control over Central Arabia. Muhammad bin Saud was defeated by the Egyptian Army, which moved to Arabia for protecting Hejaz on the orders of the Ottoman Caliph.

The left job was taken over after a century by Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, who captured Najd and eastern coast of Arabia by 1912.

In 1925 the forces of Ibn Saud captured the holy city of Mecca from Sharif Hussein bin Ali, ending 700 years of Hashemite rule. On 21 April 1925 the Saudis destroyed some of the most holy places of Islam, Jannat-ul-Baqi and Jannat-ul-Mualla, hence completing the agenda of military-religious alliance of Ibn Saud with Wahabbis.

On 10 January 1926, Ibn Saud proclaimed himself King of the Hejaz in the Great Mosque at Mecca. On 20 May 1927, the British government signed the Treaty of Jeddah, which abolished the Darin protection agreement and recognized the independence of the Hejaz and Najd with Ibn Saud as its ruler.

What happened in 1927 was triggered during The First World War which changed the political dynamics of the heartland of the Muslim world, abolition of Ottoman Caliphate brought western concept of state and nation hood. The concept of Euro Christians with sovereignty rests with the people prevailed in the center of Islamic civilization. Role of British diplomacy and created fervor of Saudi nationalism (courtesy British unprecedented help) paved the way for the first Monarch of Hejaz the Saud Family.

This diplomacy of the British in Arabian Peninsula was multi-dimensional but highly integrated.

  • First of all, the objective of snatching control of the Hejaz, the holy lands (Mecca and Madina) from the Caliph.
  • Secondly Britain wanted a friendly regime in control of the Hejaz so that it could better manipulate the politics of the peninsula.
  • Finally, the politics of the peninsula and the defeat of the Ottomans were strategically linked to Zionism’s efforts to build a diabolical consensus with Britain in the pursuit of the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.

Fall of Caliphate lead to non-existence of Dar al Islam. Nowhere in the world, it exists now, as it has never existed.

A little about Dar al-Islam,

While the Hejaz was Dar al-Islam every Muslim had the right to enter that territory.

    • He did not need a visa.
    • There was no such thing as Saudi sovereignty.
    • There was no such thing as Saudi citizenship.
    • The right of entry into any part of Dar al-Islam was one of several rights which Muslims had, such as the right to reside in Dar al-Islam,
    • They did not need residence permits, the right to seek livelihood in any part of Dar al-Islam, they did not need a work permit etc.

The birth of the State of Saudi Arabia resulted in the denial and eventual elimination of all these rights of Muslims as Ummah.

What made present Saudi Arabia and especially Al Saud Family win over the confidence of the complete Muslim world? It was through an exceptional support of British to Al Saud family. It was the fall of Caliphate, which did this magic for them. To gain all possible control over the Hejaz on the other hand, the Saud family also enforced the very strict brand of Islam (Wahabbism) in the new born state. The century old military-alliance between Al Saud and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab was best achieved now, with Muslims strictly following Wahabbi sect (the purest form of Islam) as they claim, right in the heart-land of Islam-the Hejaz.

Every sect of Islam has its own effects on the minds of the people; the Wahabi perception is also not alien to this effect. The fanatical chapter of Wahabbi ideology of Islam gave rebirth to Takhfiri concept of Islam associated with Kharijites.

Aḥmad, Muslim, and Ibn Mājah recorded a Ḥadīth from Abū Dharr who narrated that, Allah’s messenger said:

“There will definitely be a people after me from my nation who will recite the Quran yet it will not even reach beyond their throats. They will pass through the religion as an arrow passes through a target, then they will not return back to it. They are the worst of people, the worst of all creatures”.

The origin of Kharijism lies in the first Islamic civil war, the struggle for political supremacy over the Muslim community in the years following the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). After the third caliph (Usman ibn Affan), a struggle for succession ensued between Caliph Ali and Muʿāwiyah, the governor of Syria and cousin of Uthman.

According to the concept of Kharijites the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar were rightly guided but believed that Usman ibn Affan had deviated from the path of justice and truth in the last days of his caliphate, and hence was liable to be killed or displaced.

They also believed that Ali ibn Abi Talib committed a grave sin whence he agreed on the arbitration.

In the Battle of Siffin, Ali acceded to Muʿāwiyah’s suggestion to stop the fighting and refuge to negotiation. A large portion of Ali’s troops (who later became the first Kharijites) refused to concede to that agreement, and they considered that Ali has breached a Qur’anic verse which states that The decision is only for Allah (Qur’an 6:57), and hence the Kharijites thought that the outcome of a conflict can only be decided in battle (by God) and not in negotiations (by human beings). Later on, Abu lo lo feroze majoose a renowned Khawarij killed the Fourth Caliph of Islam “Ali”.

Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, and Abū Dāwūd recorded a narration in which ‘Alī said:

“There will come towards the end of time a people who will be young in age, having reckless and deficient intellects. They will speak with the statements of the best of creation, yet they will pass through Islam just as an arrow passes through a target. Their faith will not even reach beyond their throats. Wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them will have a reward on the Day of Resurrection”.

Coming back to the events of Kaaba 1979, what was immediately required for Saudi Army to operate with conviction to end the fiasco, was a Fatwa by the highest religious council of the country. As fighting in the holy land was completely prohibited by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), any defaulter in this regard was to be executed without fail. The Juhayaman and his men along with The Fake Mahdi were to be executed on the authority of that fatwa, as they breached the order of Prophet in the Holy Kaaba.

Bin Baaz, the religious head of the Saudi Government was a prominent Wahabbi scholar, who was to act promptly to end this embarrassment of highest order. He, on the other hand has been ignoring the wrongful deeds of Juhayaman in the past, to an extent, that about a year back he got him released from Governments custody on the charges of suspicious activities against the state. It is imperative here to mention that Juhayaman was a staunch practicing Wahabbi and this fact was very well known to Bin Baaz.

It took more than three days to get the appropriate Fatwa from Bin Baaz and his council. Even convergence of all 22 ulemas in Ryiadh to frame the required Fatwa was not achieved after 48 hours of the catastrophe.

All is well that ends well, Saudi troops acted promptly after the initiation of Fatwa, which clearly declared Juhayaman and his men as Kharijites (deviators). The perpetrators were executed as per the law, but the ridiculous khariji ideology was born yet again.

In the next article I will make an endeavour to crystallize the happenings leading to transportation of this re-born Khariji ideology to Pakistan and what role US and India played in it.

(The writer is a senior citizen based in Abbotabad. He has done masters in history. The post above is his first article).


Next: The Seizure of the Grand Mosque and Thereafter

Page 1, 2, 3 

Related Post:

1. Are Pakistani Taliban the ‘Khawarij’ of today?

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  1. Great, the article is fine written, will you please describe how the Great Mosque was recovered of the seige. Thanx. Khalid.

    1. @Khalid,
      FYI, here is a report published at the website ( titled: Remembering the 1979 siege of the Holy Kaaba

      The Grand Mosque Seizure on November 20, 1979, was an armed attack and takeover by armed Islamist dissidents of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam. The insurgents declared that the Mahdi, or redeemer of Islam, had arrived in the form of one of the insurgents’ leaders, Abdullah Hamid Mohammed Al-Qahtani and called on Muslims to obey him.
      The seizure shocked the Islamic world as hundreds of pilgrims present for the annual hajj were taken hostage, and hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire were killed in the ensuing battles for control of the site. The siege ended two weeks after the takeover began with militants cleared from the mosque.[1]
      Following the attack, the Saudi state implemented stricter enforcement of Islamic code.[2]

      The seizure was led by Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaibi, who belonged to a powerful family of Najd. He declared his brother-in-law Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani to be the Mahdi, or redeemer of Islam, whose coming at endtimes is foretold in many ahaadith of prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). Although one of the essential signs to know the Mahdi is that he is a descendant of Muhammad (S.A.W), Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani was not a descendant of the Prophet of Islam, since he belongs to Al-Qahtani tribe. However, the fanatics overlooked this by relying on the fact that Al-Qahtani’s name and his father’s name are identical to the Prophet’s name and father, and they used one of the Prophet’s sayings “His and his father’s names were the same as Muhammad’s and his father’s, and he had come to Mecca from the north” to justify their opinion. Furthermore, the date of the attack, November 20, 1979, was the first day of the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar, which according to another hadith, was the day that the Mahdi would reveal himself.[3]
      Juhaiman Saif al Otaibi was from “one of the foremost families of Najd. His grandfather had ridden with Abd al Aziz in the early decades of the century.”[4] He was a preacher, a former corporal in the Saudi National Guard, and former student of revered conservative Sheikh Abdel Aziz al Baaz, who went on to become the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhaiman had turned against al Baz, “and began advocating a return to the original ways of Islam, among other things; a repudiation of the West; an end of education of women; abolition of television and expulsion of non-Muslims.” [5] He proclaimed that “the ruling Al Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy, because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of Westernization.”[6]

      Otaibi and Qahtani had met while being imprisoned together for sedition, when Otaibi claimed to have a vision sent by God telling him that Qahtani was the Mahdi. Their declared goal was to institute a theocracy in preparation for the imminent apocalypse. Many of their followers were drawn from theology students at the Islamic University in Medina, which was known as a center of the Muslim Brotherhood. Other followers came from Yemen, Kuwait, and Egypt and also included some Muslim African-Americans. The followers preached their radical message in different mosques in Saudi Arabia without being arrested.[7] The government was reluctant to confront religious extremists. Members of the ulema cross-examined Otaibi and Qahtani for heresy, but they were subsequently released as being traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan, like Otaibi’s grandfather, and not a threat.[8]
      Because of donations from wealthy followers, the group was well-armed and trained. Some members, like Otaibi, were members of the National Guard.[9] Some National Guard troops sympathetic to the insurgents infiltrated weapons, ammunition, gas masks, and provisions into the mosque compound over a period of weeks before the new year.[10] Automatic weapons were stolen from National Guard armories, and the supplies were hidden in the hundreds of tiny underground rooms under the mosque that were used as hermitages.[11]

      1 Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror (2002) p.90
      2 Wright, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.155
      3 Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror, (2002) p.90
      4 Mecca – 1979 Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaibi,
      5 Wright, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.152
      6 Military, Mecca, 1979 Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaibi,
      7 Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p.88-9
      8 a b Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 103 – softcover
      9 Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 102 – softcover
      10 Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror, (2002), p.90
      11a b Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 104 – softcover


      Below is the Kharji leader look at his face he claimed to be imam mahdi.

      A Video interview of the book writer

      Have look at the pictures thoroughly its the most sacred mosque of the world

  2. Otaybi never claimed he was the Mahdi. That was all propaganda the Saud family used to discredit him. Otaybi was very vocal against the corrupt Saud Family. He spoke out against them publicly and was therefore killed by them. They discredited him by spreading lies about him in the media. Read about what Otaybi believed before you speak.

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