Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz
(), also known as Bin Baaz
, was the Grand Mufti
of Saudi Arabia
from 1993 until his death in 1999.
His Childhood and Youth
Ibn Baaz was born in the city of Riyadh
during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah
, 1909 to a family with a reputation for their interest in Islam
. His father died when he was only three, placing a big responsibility on his mother to raise him. When asked about his childhood, the sheikh said: “my father died when I was three years old, and I only had my mother who took care of me and educated me encouraging me to learn more about Sharia
; she also died when I was twenty six.” By the time he was thirteen he had began working, selling clothing with his brother in a market. Despite the fact that he helped a great deal in supporting his family, he still found time to study the Qur’an
, and Tafsir
. In 1927, when he was sixteen, he started losing his eyesight after being afflicted with a serious infection in his eyes. By the time he was twenty, he had totally lost his sight and become blind.
At that time, Saudi Arabia
lacked the complex university system of today. However, Ibn Baaz managed to learn a great deal through his constant reading of Islamic literature
as well as his accompaniment to different scholars whom he learned from. These include:
- 'Abdullaah bin Fayreej whom he studied the Qura'n with at an early age and memorized it and read it to him.
- Muhammad ibn Zayd, the chief judge in the Eastern region.
- Raashid ibn Saalih al-Khunayn.
- 'Abdul-Lateef ibn Muhammad ash-Shudayyid.
- 'Abdullaah bin 'Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Kimar
- 'Abdullaah bin Qu'ood.
- Saalih ibn Hussayn al-'Iraaqee .
- 'Abdul-Rahmaan al- Warraaq.
- The Mufti of his time, Muhammad ibn Ibraheem ibn 'Abd al-Lateef ash-Shaikh. Ibn Baaz studied under this scholar for ten years. He had studied all the branches of Sharee'ah from him during the years 1927 until 1938.
- Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Lateef ibn Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hassan ibn ash-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab.
- Sa’ad ibn Hamad ibn Ateeq, the chief judge of Riyadh at the time.
- Hammad ibn Farris, under whom ibn Baaz studied the field of Arabic grammar.
- Sa’ad Waqqaas al-Bukhaaree, one of Mecca’s most renowned scholars in Tajweed.
- Saalih ibn 'Abdul-Azeez ibn 'Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan ibn Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhaab, one of the judges in the city of Riyadh.
On Thursday morning May 13
and at the age of ninety, Ibn Baaz died. The next day, following Friday prayer, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz
, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz
, and hundreds of thousands of people performed the funeral prayer at the Masjid al-Haram
King Fahd issued a decree appointing Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh
as the new Grand Mufti after Bin Baaz's death.
Ibn Baaz first developed notoriety and a reputation for integrity in the 1940s when he served time in prison as punishment for contradicting government policy with a fatwa
declaring the employment of non-Muslims in the Persian Gulf forbidden by Islam. 50 years later, under exceptional circumstances, he issued another fatwa allowing the deployment of non-Muslim troops on Saudi Arabia soil to defend the Kingdom from the Iraqi army.
He had assumed a number of posts and responsibilities such as:
- The judge of Al Kharj district upon the recommendation of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Lateef ash-Shaikh from 1938 to 1951.
- Held a teaching position in Riyadh at the Ma'had al-'Ilmee in 1951
- In 1951 after spending fourteen years in al-Kharj as a judge, he was transferred to Riyadh where he became a teacher in the Riyadh Institute of Science and taught in the Faculty of Sharia from 1961 to .
- In 1961 he was then appointed Vice President, and later President, of the Islamic University of Madinah.
- In 1970 he became the Chancellor of the University upon the death of Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal ash-Shaykh and he remained chancellor until 1975.
- In 1975 a royal decree named him Chairman of the Department of Scientific Research and Ifta with the rank of Minister.
- In 1992 he was appointed Grand Mufti of the Saudi Arabia and Head of the Council of Senior Scholars and was granted presidency of the administration for scientific research and legal rulings.
- President of the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatawa.
- President and member of the Constituent Assembly of the World Muslim League.
- President of the Higher World League Council.
- President of the Islaamic Fiqh Assembly based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
- Member of the Higher Council of the Islamic University of Medina.
- Member of the Higher Committee for Islaamic Da'wah in Saudi Arabia.
Over the years, he held a large number of positions as president or member of various Islamic councils and committees, and chaired a number of conferences both within Saudi Arabia and overseas, in addition to writing a great number of books in different fields and issuing a large body of fatwa. In 1981 he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.
Ibn Baaz had undertaken a number of charitable and other activities such as:
- His endless support for Dawah organizations and Islamic centers in many parts of the world.
- The establishment and supervision of schools for teaching the Qur'an.
- The foundation of an organization that facilitates marriage for Muslim youth.
- The popular radio program, Nurun AlaDarb ("light on the path"), in which he discussed many current issues and answered questions from listeners as well as providing fatwa if needed.
Lectures and Lessons
Ibn Baaz was a prolific speaker both in public and privately at his mosque
. Like his books, his lectures and sermons were numerous and revolved frequently around the situation of the Muslim world
. In addition, much of his time was devoted to the lessons he gave after Fajr
prayer, teaching during the day, meeting delegates from Muslim
countries and sitting with people after Maghrib
prayer to provide counseling and advice on personal matters. He also used to invite people after Isha
prayer to share a meal with him.
Counter Terrorism Efforts
- Ibn Baz was among the Muslim scholars who stood against regime change using violence . He called for the obedience of the people in charge of power except if they order something that goes against God. He condemned the Terrorist bombings of Riyad in the strongest terms.
In his career as the Grand Mufti
of Saudi Arabia
, he attempted to both legitimize the rule of the ruling family and to support calls for the reform of Islam
in line with Salafi
ideals. Many criticized him for supporting the Saudi
government when, after the Gulf War
, it muzzled or imprisoned some Qutbi
scholars regarded as too critical of the government, such as Safar al-Hawali
and Salman al-Ouda
When Ibn Baaz died in 1999 the loss of "his erudition and reputation for intransigence" was so great the Saudi government was said to have "found itself staring into a vacuum" unable to find a figure able to "fill bin Baaz's shoes. His influence on the Salafi movement was large, and most of the prominent judges and religious scholars of Saudi Arabia today are former students of his.
Osama bin Laden
Ibn Baaz was the subject of Osama bin Laden
's first public pronouncement intended for the general Muslim
public. This open letter condescendingly criticized him for endorsing the Oslo peace accord
between the PLO
government. Ibn Baz defended his decision to endorse the Oslo Accords by citing the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
, saying that a peace treaty with non-Muslims has historical precedent if it can avoid the loss of life. This criticism, coupled with Bin Laden's making of Takfir
of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, resulted in Ibn Baaz declaring bin Laden
Between 1993 and 1995, various newspapers and magazines published accounts that ibn Baaz, whose duties included the presidency of the administration for scientific research, had said that the Earth is flat. Bin Baaz strongly denied that claim, describing the allegation as a "pure lie"; in addition, he had made statements affirming that the earth is round. In a 2008 interview, Syrian philosopher Sadik Jalal Al-Azm
alleges that in a book published in 1985, which he himself has a copy of, Ibn Baz declares that "all those who say that the earth is round and orbits the sun are apostates". Supporters of Ibn Baz said that the book in which the flat earth claim was supposed to have been laid out does not exist, and that the entire controversy was based on one interview with Egyptian journalists.
The number of books written by Ibn Baaz exceeds sixty and the subject matter covered many topics such as Hadith
, Fara'ed’ed, Tawheed
and also a great deal of books on Salat