khawarij\'s interpretation of \"hukm\" in quran 6:57

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In the beginning the Kharijite party came into existence to keep alive an Islamic tradition, but that lack of insight and unknowing dragged them to the point where they misinterpreted the verses of the Qur'an. It was from here that they began to take on a religious colouring and become delineated as a sect and as a way. There is a verse in the Qur'an which says:

The judgement (hukm) is Allah's alone, He relates the truth and He is the Best of deciders. (Qur'an, 6: 57)

In this verse, "hukm" has been explained as one of the special attributes of God's essence, but it is necessary to see what the meaning of hukm is. Without doubt, the meaning of hukm (judgement) here is the law and order of man's life. In this ayah, the right to lay down the law has been denied to :any other than God, and this has been recognised as one of the degrees of God's essence (or of a person who has been given authority by God). But the Khawarij took hukm in the meaning of hukumah (government), which also contains the idea of hakamiyah (arbitration), and made their own slogan: la hukma illa li'llah - government and arbitration is Allah's alone. Their intention was that government (hukumah), arbitration (hakamiyah) and leadership too, just as lawgiving, was the special right of God, and that, apart from God, no-one had the right to-arbitrate among, or govern, people, just as they had no right to create laws.

Once ~Amir al-muminin~ was at prayer (or maybe addressing people from the minbar) when they called out and addressed him: la hukma illa li'llah, la laka wa li ashabik - O `Ali, governing is only for God. It is not for you or your friends to govern or arbitrate!

In reply, he said:

The sentence is right but what (they think) it means is wrong. It is true that law-giving (hukm, judgement) is God's alone, but these people say that governance is God's alone. The fact is that men need a governor, a ruler, whether he is good or (maybe) bad. Under (the shadow of) his rule, the believer performs good actions while the disbeliever profits from his worldly life; and God brings every thing to its end. Through the ruler, taxes are collected, enemies are fought, the roads are kept safe, and the rights of the weak are taken from the strong, so that the virtuous enjoy peace and are given protection from the wicked.

In short, the law does not get put into practice all by itself; there must be someone, or some group, who tries to put it into practice.

As for any difference between the rule of the Qur'an and the rule of individual people, no differentiation was made. The acceptance of the rule or governance of the Qur'an means that in all events whatever the Qur'an exhorts us to do should be done, whereas the rule or governance of individuals means following the decisions and opinions of these persons. Now, since the Qur'an cannot speak, its truth must be derived by the implementation of particular applications, and that would be impossible without individual persons. On this matter.

Ali said:

"We did not name people as arbitrators, but we named the Qur'an as arbitrator. The Qur'an is a book, bound, between two covers, and it does not speak. It therefore needs an interpreter. Only men can be such interpreters. When these people invited us to name the Qur'an as arbitrator between us, we could not let ourselves be the party which turned away from the Book of Allah. since He has said: And then, if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Prophet. (an-Nisa', 4:59) "Reference to Allah means that we should decide according to the Qur'an, while reference to the Prophet means we should follow his sunnah. Now, if arbitration were truly implemented through the Qur'an, we should be the most rightful of people to receive it (the caliphate); and if the arbitration is through the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, we should be the first of them to receive it.",(Nahju 'l-balaghah, Sermon no. 125 ).

There is a problem here concerning the harmonisation of the beliefs of the Shi'ah and the person of Amir al-mu'minin (see the end of sermon no. 2 in Nahju 'l-balaghah ). Rulership and Imamate in Islam is by divine designation and according to textual bases (nass), so why did 'Ali submit to the decision of arbitration and afterwards firmly defend it?

We can very well understand the answer to this objection from the preceding words of the Imam, for, as he said, if the consideration and judgement were correctly made through the Qur'an, no conclusion could be derived apart from his right to the caliphate and the Imamate, and the sunnah of the Prophet gives the same conclusion.


attraction and repulsion of Imam Ali p.b.u.h- pages:144to146 and 153to154