Whose black banner is it, anyway? — and the Khawarij

[ by Charles Cameron — a flag flapping in the wind, in the mind ]

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You see this flag?

Dear ISIS, if it takes 63 pages to explain why you are not Khawarij, you just might be Khawarij. pic.twitter.com/xfwSNt8peJ

— J.M. Berger (@intelwire) December 28, 2014

Who flies it?

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The media often call it “the Islamic State flag” these days, and indeed in the photo above, it’s a convoy of IS / Daesh vehicles that’s flying it.

But in the recent 13th issue of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula‘s magazine, Inspire, that same flag is used as an icon for both Mohammad Jawlani, the emir of AQ’s Iraqi branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Mukhtar Abu Zubair, late emir of al-Shabaab — and indeed, it also features in AQAP’s Malahem Media logo:

whose black banner

It is one of the ironies of the age that the image of a black banner featuring the white circular “seal of the Prophet” is flown by both sides in the contentious rivalry between the Islamic State and Al Qaida for leadership in the global jihad .

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And who are the Khawarij today?

Joas Wagemakers, in ‘Seceders’ and ‘Postponers’? — an analysis of the ‘Khawarij’ and ‘Murji’a’ labels in polemical debates between quietist and jihadi-salafis, identifies the central distinctive opinion of the Khawarij thus:

The first of these is the Khawarij’s belief that revolt against Muslim rulers was allowed if they were deemed insufficiently pious. When ‘Ali accepted arbitration with Mu‘awiya, the people later known as Khawarij reportedly shouted ‘judgement is God’s alone’ (la hukm illa li-llah). In the context of that event, this referred to their belief that only God had the authority to arbitrate, not human beings, and that ‘Ali should not have accepted Mu‘awiya’s offer. The slogan later came to represent their broader view that all judgements and rulings should be left to God, thus applying Qur’anic rulings so strictly that they expelled Muslims guilty of major sins from their community and fought them. Because they believed sinful Muslims to be unbelievers (kuffar, singular: kafir), they directly applied passages from the Qur’an pertaining to jihad against non-Muslims to those of their co-religionists who were less than perfectly pious.

Does any of that sound familiar?

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Well and truly trolled, JM!

1 comment on this post.
  1. Charles Cameron:

    Tim Furnish responded to my question, Whose black banner is it, anyway? on Twitter, as quoted here with his permission: