Branch of Islam, although all remaining Kharijis today belong to the Ibadi offspring.
The Kharijis broke with the majority of Muslims in 658, because they couldn’t accept that Ali had allowed his actions to be investigated. The backdrop was the assassination of CaliphUthman in 656, where Ali was challenged by Mu’awiyya, the governor of Damascus. Mu’awiyya wanted to revenge over the murder, although the perpetrators were not known. This caused tension with Ali, as it actually challenged his position as caliph. Following the Battle of Siffin, Ali accepted to negotiate with Mu’awiyya over who was the legitimate caliph, feeling sure of his position. In a charade, Mu’awaiyya was appointed caliph, and although Ali refused this immediately, his position was so weakened, that the group of the Kharijis turnes away from him. When Ali was murdered in 661, this was probably the act of a member of the Khariji sect.
The Kharijis soon appeared with very strict proclamations, as well as violent acts. Everyone else were called infidels and they killed many of their opponents. The Kharijis grew slowly in strength by joining up with other groups. Central was their creed that anyone could be the leader of Islam, and not only the descendants of Muhammad as the Muslim aristocracy.
The Kharijis believed strongly in the equality between all races, an important factor to understanding the success they had in Islam’s early days, when many of the non-Arab Muslims felt they were treated as inferior to the Arabs.
Pure Kharijism would not survive into modern modern times, but the late 7th century group of Abdullah ibn Ibad at-Tamimi would. Today the Ibadis count about 1,325,000, mainly in Oman but also in Algeria, Libya and Tunsia, as well as in Zanzibar in Tanzania.