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Baghy (Arabic: البغي) (lit: trespass) is the riot or rebellion against the Imam or the Islamic ruler. Prominent examples of baghy are battles of Jamal, Siffin, and Nahrawan during the government of Imam Ali (a). There are disagreements among Islamic denominations over the details of baghy. For baghy to obtain, some conditions must hold: one's parting from the Imam is because of doubts, one is so powerful that there is no way other than fight, and one is outside the territories in which the Imam has the authority. The agent of baghy is called "baghi".

There are two classes of baghis: those who have a brigade and those who do not. After the battle, the two classes are treated differently. There is a disagreement over whether baghis count as unbelievers (kafir) or just vice (fasiq). An Islamic ruler first advise the baghis to stop their rebellion, and if they do not listen, he will fight them. Baghy is different from muharaba.

The Concept

The main meanings of "baghy" are said to consist in request, jealousy, and arrogance. Al-Raghib al-Isfahani has classified "baghy" into two types:

  • The good or admirable baghy which is to move from justice to beneficence and from obligatory to recommended actions,
  • The bad or reprehensible baghy which is to move from the right to the wrong or to doubtful actions.

"Baghy" and its cognates appear ninety six times in the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, the word is mostly used in its negative sense. In Islamic jurisprudence, the word is used to mean "the exit from the obedience of the right and just Imam" in accordance to the verse nine of the Qur'an 49. In hadiths, "baghy" is used to mean the infringement of the limits, deviation from the right, injustice, arrogance, and the like. In books of Islamic ethics, it is sometimes used to mean the "disobedience of someone whose obedience is obligatory."

In some hadiths, particularly in Nahj al-balagha, the word, "baghy," and its cognates are used to mean the disobedience of the Imam or the Islamic ruler. In a letter to Mu'awiya, Imam Ali (a) used "baghy." There is a well-known hadith from the Prophet (s) that says, "Ammar will be murdered by the baghi group."

Jurisprudential Rulings

According to jurisprudential sources, those who waged wars during the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), particularly Khawarij, count as "baghis." In Islamic jurisprudence, "baghy" is used as a particular jurisprudential jargon. Muslim jurists cite the verse nine of Qur'an 49 to define "baghy" as a rebellion or uprising against the Imam or the legitimate ruler.

"And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses [baghy] until it returns to the ordinance of Allah."

Sources of Quranic exegesis provide different accounts of the occasion of the revelation of this verse. These verses were later cited for the legitimacy of Amir al-Mu'minin's wars with his opponents.

There are disagreements among Islamic denominations over the details of baghy and criteria of baghis. From a jurisprudential standpoint, the Imam calls baghis to his obedience at first, and if they reject the request, then he will fight them.

Sunni Jurisprudential Views

Some Hanafis deny the reprehensible sense of baghy and take it to consist in the rebellion of a group of right people in accordance with their own ijtihad. The same meaning is attributed by al-Shaykh al-Tusi to Shafi'is. Salihi Najafabadi takes this to be a justification or exoneration of those of the companions who fought Imam Ali (a) in the battles of Jamal and Siffin. Sometimes baghis are merely identified with Khawarij. While some Hanafis define baghy as the disobedience of the Imam, Malikis and Shafi'is take baghy to include the refusal from paying the shares of the Imam. For example, Shafi'i takes the war against those who refuse to pay their zakat as a war against baghis. According to the Mu'tazila, baghis are merely vice (fasiq), and they agree with the Imamiyya over the reprehensible sense of baghy. According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Abu Hanifa and some Hanafis and Shafi'is agree with the Imami viewpoint on baghy.

According to Sunni jurists, except Hanafis, the war against baghis is only intended to oppress or stop their rebellion. Thus, their captives are not killed and their fugitives are not chased. However, their possessions are confiscated by the Imam as long as they remain baghis. Baghis are not charged to recompense things they destroy or the people they kill in the war. On one account, Abu Hanifa and Shafi'i believe that they are charged. However, according to all Sunni schools of jurisprudence, if baghis destroy something or kill someone before the war or after their defeat, then they will be charged. There is a disagreement among these schools as to whether hadds are executed for baghis if they commit sins that require hadd.

The Imami View

The Imamiyya require that the Imam should be infallible in order for the rebellion to count as baghy. However, the condition is rejected by Sunnis. Some Sunnis do not even require the righteousness of the Imam.

According to the Imami jurisprudence, the war against the baghis is obligatory if the following three conditions obtain:

  • They are in an enclosure or a fort, and so it is not possible to oppress their rebellion except through a war.
  • They are outside the territories in which the Imam has the authority; for instance, by gathering in a place like a desert.
  • Their parting from the Imam and other Muslims is because of a reason in virtue of which they count as bandits or muharibs.
  • If the Imam asks, it will be obligatory to help the Imam in the war against the baghis and to stay in the war.

There are two types of baghis:

Those who do not have a brigade, an organization, or a support, such as people of Jamal. In this case, the injured will not be killed and the fugitives will not be chased.

Those who have an organized group, such as people of Siffin. In this case, it is permissible to kill the injured and chase the fugitives.

In either case, their children are not captivated. And if they abandon the war or throw away their weapons, it will be forbidden to fight them unless they return to their groups. Baghi captives will be imprisoned and will not be killed. The Imam can ask Dhimmis to help him fight the baghis. And if they join baghis, they will exit from the conditions of dhimma. There is a disagreement over the possessions and property of baghis after the battle. Some people believe that it is not permissible to capture their possessions and treat them as booties, and so their possessions should be returned to them after the war. However, al-Tusi in his al-Khilaf and al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli have appealed to the practice of Imam Ali (a) in the Battle of Jamal when he permitted booties and then returned them to show that it is permissible to capture booties in wars against baghis.

Conditions of Baghy

  • The rebels consisting of a large number of people
  • A doubt or a personal interpretation that has put them against the Islamic ruler
  • Being outside the territories in which the ruler has an influence or authority
  • Being so powerful that they cannot be pushed back except by war

Kashif al-Ghita' adds two more conditions:

  • They cannot be stopped through reasoning and dialogue
  • They cannot be prevented from waging a war except by war.

Interaction and Combat of the Islamic Ruler with Baghis

Before the war, the Islamic ruler warns the baghis and tries to talk them out of the war. If this does not work, then it is obligatory to start the war. After the war, there are some rulings about corpses, the baghis being charged to recompense wasted property and lives, and their captives:

Before the war:

Before the war, the Islamic ruler must advise the baghis to obey him and prevent them from the war. The goal is to stop their rebellion, and if the goal is achieved through dialogues, then it will not be necessary to start a war.


If the baghis do not listen to the advice and insist on their rebellion, then it is obligatory for the Imam to fight them. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Allama al-Hilli claim that there is a consensus over this ruling.

After the war:

Corpses: there is a disagreement over whether the killed baghis count as dead Muslims. The disagreement is based on whether baghis count as unbelievers or not.

Possessions: two questions can be asked about their possessions:

Recompense of wasted property: baghis are charged to recompense wasted property and lost lives. However, the Imam's army is not charged to recompense wasted property and lost lives of the baghis.

Capturing the booties: some jurists believe that it is not permissible to capture the baghis' possessions as booties and that their property must be returned to them after the war. However, al-Shaykh al-Tusi in his al-Khilaf and al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli believe that it is permissible to capture their property as booties of the war.

Women and children: women and children of baghis must not be captivated.

Captives: captivated baghis are treated differently in accordance to their having or not having a brigade. If they have an organization and a support, then it will be permissible to kill their captives. Otherwise, it will not be permissible.

Do Baghis Count as Believers or Unbelievers?

Baghis do not count as unbelievers merely in virtue of their baghy. Al-Tusi claims that some Imami jurists treat baghis as unbelievers. In his Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi believes that those who waged wars against Imam Ali (a) count as unbelievers, while he takes the Imam's opponents (who do not wage a war) only as vice (fasiq). However, Malikis take baghis to count as vice.

Difference between Baghy and Muharaba

Although both baghy and muharaba are armed rebellions, they are two different jurisprudential notions with different rulings:

  • Baghy is a rebellion against the Imam, while muharaba is to terrorize people,
  • Muharaba obtains even if one person is involved, while baghy must involve a group of people,
  • Muharaba counts as a crime in Islamic jurisprudence, while baghy does not,
  • In jurisprudence, there is no hadd for baghy, while a particular hadd is specified for muharaba,

If baghis are believed to be unbelievers, then the rulings of killed baghis and killed muharibs will be different.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from بغی in Farsi WikiShia.