The Three Great Imaam’s of the Sunnah, of our time, this Century (1400AH – 21st Century )
The Prophet of Allaah, Muhammad sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: ‘Indeed Allaah raises up from this ummah at the beginning of every century someone who will revive it for them (i.e. a mujaddid).’ [Reported by Abu Dawood and authenticated by Al-‘Iraaqee and others.]
- Shaykh Ibn Baz www.ibnbaz.org.sa 2. Shaykh al-Albani www.alalbany.net 3. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen www.binothaimeen.com
Biography of the Shaykh, the Imaam Abdul Aziz bin Abdullaah bin Baz 1330-1420
Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah bin ‘Abdir-Rahmaan bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdillaah bin Baaz [the word “bin” means “son of”], was the Grand Mufti, the highest ranking scholar in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and head of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the arbiter of all that is Islamically proper, correct, and permissible in Saudi Arabia. His decisions were unchallenged, and his retrogressive opinions were given great prominence in Saudi Arabia. The shaykh was known for his honesty, generosity, modesty and love for the poor, widows and orphans. The shaykh was born in the city of Riyaadh, the capital of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Dhul-Hijjah, 1330 A.H. His family was well-known for its interest in Islamic knowledge.
His Childhood & Youth
The shaykh’s father died when he was young, therefore, it was a big responsibility on his mother to raise the shaykh. As a matter of fact, when asked about his childhood, the shaykh 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 Sharee’ah [Islamic Law]; she also died when I was twenty six.” In fact, his mother played an important role in bringing him up and later in directing him toward memorizing the Qur’aan, at the age of fourteen, and studying different Islamic books. Life was not easy for the shaykh; when he was thirteen or so, he had to work with his older brother, Muhammad, selling “Bishts”, men’s gowns, on the market. Despite the fact that he helped a great deal in supporting his family, he had never forgotten to study Qur’aan, Hadeeth, Fiqh (Jurisprudence), and Tafseer. In 1346 A.H., when the shaykh 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. Nonetheless, his thirst for knowledge was unquenchable; he dedicated his full time to studying Islamic books benefiting and learning from different shaykhs.
At that time, there were no schools like today. However, the shaykh managed to gain a great deal of Islamic knowledge through his constant reading of Islamic literature as well as his accompaniment to different scholars and shaykhs from whom he learned and benefited a lot. Some of these shaykhs were:
- Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibraaheem bin ‘Abdul-Lateef Aalush-Shaykh. Ibn Baaz stayed with this shaykh for almost ten years. He was later chosen by his shaykh to be the judge of Al-Kharj.
- Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Lateef bin Hasan Aalush-Shaykh.
- Shaykh Sa’ad bin Hammad bin ‘Ateeq, the judge of Riyaadh city at that time.
- Shaykh Hammad bin Faaris; Ibn Baaz benefited a lot from this shaykh in the field of Arabic grammar.
- Shaykh Sa’d Wakhas al-Bukhaaree, one of Makkah’s best scholars in Tajweed (mastery of reading the Holy Qur’aan).
Various Positions he was entrusted with:
The shaykh assumed a number of posts and responsibilities such as:
- the judge of Kharj; upon the recommendation of shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Lateef Aalush-Shaykh, shaykh Bin Baaz was appointed as the judge of Al-Kharj from 1357 A.H. to 1371 A.H.
- in 1371 A.H. and after spending fourteen years in Al-Kharj as a judge, he was transferred to Riyaadh where he became a teacher in the Riyaadh Institute of Science, he taught in the Faculty of Sharee’ah [Islamic Law] from 1373 A.H. to 1381 A.H.
3. in 1381 A.H. he was then appointed Vice President, and later President, of the Islamic University in Madeenah.
4. in 1395 A.H. a royal decree named him Chairman of the [Government] Department of Scientific Research and Iftaa’ [guidance] with the rank of Minister.
- and in 1414 A.H. he was appointed Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Head of the Council of ‘Ulamaa’ (Senior Scholars). 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 the Kingdom and overseas, in addition to writing a great number of books in different fields and issuing a large body of fataawaa [religious decrees]. In 1402 H he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islaam.
Indeed the shaykh set an example to the Muslim youth wherever they may be; his main concern besides studying Sharee’ah was Da’wah both inside and outside the country. Shaykh Ibn Baaz also had undertaken a number of charitable organizations and activities such as:
1. his endless support for Da’wah organizations and Islamic centres all over the world.
2. the establishment and supervision of schools for teaching the Holy Qur’aan.
- the foundation of an organization that facilitates marriage for Muslim youth.
- the popular radio program, “Noourun ‘Alaa ad-Darb” [light on the path], which hosting one of the shaykhs, discusses a lot of problems answering different questions by listeners as well as providing fatwa if needed.His Books and Writings
Although shaykh Ibn Baaz was busy with so many things in his life including his job as minister, he managed to write a good number of books on different issues. The number of books written by shaykh Ibn Baaz exceeds sixty and it is hard to name them all in here; however, the subject matter that he mainly wrote on was Hadeeth, Tafseer, Faraa’id, Tawheed, Fiqh and also a great deal of books on Salaah, Zakaah, Da’wah, Hajj and ‘Umrah.
His Lectures and Lessons
Shaykh Ibn Baaz’s life was full of lectures and sermons which he delivered in public or privately at his mosque. Like his books, his lectures and sermons were so many but they revolved majorly around the situation of the Muslim world and around issues that concerned the Islamic Ummah [nation]. In addition, the shaykhs time was devoted to the lessons he gave after the Fajr prayer, giving fataawaa during the day, meeting delegates from Muslim countries and sitting with the people after the Maghrib prayer to solve their problems and offer help as much as he could. He also used to invite people after ‘Ishaa’ prayer to have lunch with him.
On Thursday morning May 13, 1999 and at the age of ninety, shaykh Ibn Baaz died. The next day, following Friday prayer, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin ‘Abdul-‘Azeez, Crown Prince ‘Abdullaah, Prince Sultaan, shaykhs, scholars and hundreds of thousands of people performed funeral prayers at the Holy Mosque in Makkah for late shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah bin Baaz (rahimahullaahu ta’aalaa).
Below is a statement written by one of the Shaykhs student
Today, Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 (May 13, 1999), Islaam and its people have been grieved by the death of the great scholar, father and capable teacher, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, and the end of a blessed life lasting eighty-nine years, one month and fifteen days, a life filled with obedience to Allaah and service to Islaam and the Muslims.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz, rahima-hullaah, was born in 1330 AH and grew up in a good family. He memorized the entire Qur’aan before the age of puberty and studied with the scholars in his homeland before travelling to seek knowledge in other countries. He lost his eyesight completely at the age of 19, because of illness. Allaah knows best, but I think that he is one of the people referred to in the hadeeth of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam):
“Allaah says, ‘If I take away a person’s two beloved (eyes), and he bears it with patience and the hope of reward, he will have no less a reward than Paradise.’” [Reported by at-Tirmidhee, 2325. He said, this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth]
He was as strong as he could be when it came to issues of Islaam. When one of the oppressive rulers said that there were myths in the Qur’aan, such as the People of the Cave and the staff of Moosa, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him explaining that this statement was tantamount to apostasy and unbelief. When the ruler’s secretary wrote to tell him that this is not what was intended, and that the man retracted what he had said, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him to tell him that if he was sincere, he should announce his repentance publicly just as he had announced his kufr openly. The Shaykh also denounced those who rejected the Sunnah, and the followers of falsehood and bid’ah, by refuting all their claims. He wrote warnings against observing innovated and unIslaamic celebrations, such as celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday, the anniversary of the Isra’, the middle of Sha’baan, and other innovations that were not commemorated by the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) or his Companions.
He was a true leader, the Imaam of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah and the Renewer (Mujaddid) of the Religion in this age. How many Sunnahs did Allaah revive through him, and how many bid’ahs were done away with! How many people were stirred up from their state of negligence and guided away from error! He was one of the leaders of the pious referred to in the aayah:
“ ‘… make us leaders for al-muttaqoon (the pious).’” [Soorah al-Furqaan (25):74]
He used to strive against evil, and how many evil things were done away with and how many bid’ahs put a stop to because of his efforts. He was known for this from an early age, rahima-hullaah. His own Shaykh, Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (rahima-hullaah) praised him for his critical approach and exposing the falsehood of Arab nationalism (Fataawa Ibn Ibraaheem, 13/148), and wrote in support of his denunciation of the bid’ah of collective takbeer (ibid., 3/127). He himself wrote to his shaykh explaining the dangers of magazines such as al-Musaawar, Rose el-Youssef and Aakhir Saa’ah, which were widespread at that time (ibid., 13/119). The things that he denounced and wrote against are innumerable, and one cannot count how many letters and messages he wrote calling upon the followers of falsehood to discuss matters and provide evidence. I think in this regard he was acting in accordance with the words of Allaah:
“Why do not the rabbis and the religious learned men forbid them from uttering sinful words and from eating illegal things. Evil indeed is that which they have been performing.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah (5):63]
He used to advise people and warn them against taking haraam employment and evil earnings. He watched the signs of evil and issued warnings about them with no delay, such as satellite dishes and journeys abroad, and the harmful effects of music and movies on the youth of Islaam. He wrote about the dangers of wanton display, unveiling and free mixing, out of a sense of jealousy and honour for the sake of Allaah and concern for the honour of the believing women. This and other writings showed his awareness of the ummah’s issues and his concern for the people’s wellbeing.
He was an imaam and mujtahid who, with the knowledge, understanding and insight that Allaah bestowed on him, gave fatwas on matters of major import and difficult, thorny issues. He was also the head of the Islaamic Fiqh Council (Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islaami) which issues fatwas concerning serious contemporary matters. His fataawa on divorce are indicative of his depth of understanding and ability in making ijtihaad. His fatwas were based on compassion and understanding, and this was a great blessing to many people, male and female alike.
He was a mujaddid who combined knowledge of fiqh with knowledge of hadeeth. He knew about hadeeth and their degrees of soundness. He had memorized many volumes of ahaadeeth; he knew all about their narrators and the correct pronunciation of their names. Texts would be proofread and corrected with his help, even though he was blind. He was an ocean of knowledge, conversant with the opinions of different scholars and never at odds with any of them. One could hardly find any odd or strange fatwa from him. He took the middle path between two sides, those who focus on hadeeth and do not pay due attention to fiqh or the opinions of the scholars, and those who focus on fiqh and the opinions of the fuqaha’, and do not pay due attention to the hadeeth. He used to combine the advantages of both fields of knowledge, fiqh and hadeeth.
He was the leader whose opinion was decisive; all disputing parties would accept his opinion. Scholars might engage in a discussion in his presence, but when he spoke, that would be the end of the dispute – they would accept and follow his opinion. They gave him two votes where other members of the Fatwa Committee (Lajnat al-Fatwa) had only one.
With regard to the ordinary people, many of them would accept only Shaykh Ibn Baaz’s fatwa. If there were varying scholarly opinions on an issue. An ordinary man might say, “That is enough, give me a break! What does Ibn Baaz say?” One of the greatest blessings brought about through him is that the scholars and common people alike would accept him as a leader. This is a distinction which may not apply to anyone else in our time.
We are not claiming that the Shaykh was more knowledgeable than al-Shaafa’i or Ahmad or Ibn Taymiyah. Far from it! But his importance in our own time is no less than their importance in their own times; indeed, it may be greater, for the people’s need for him was greater, because of the paucity of scholars in this time as compared to earlier times.
He used to come down to the level of ordinary people to help them understand things; he did not address them in a highbrow manner. Very often he would speak to them in the colloquial so that they would understand him. He was like a mujaddid in the sphere of fatwas. His fatwas were based on making links between his ruling and the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and he might mention in his fatwas the opinions of some scholars. Many of the fatwas of scholars who came before him were distinguished by the fact that they were merely narrating comments from books of fiqh produced by the various madhhabs, but the fatwas of Ibn Baaz were based directly on the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
He loved to benefit people all the time, and he used to use every opportunity that arose to do this. For example, he would sit in the mosque and wait for the prayer, and sometimes he would listen to the person next to him reading Qur’aan. If he came to a difficult word, he would say to the reader, “Do you know what this word means?” then he would explain the meaning to him. I sat beside him a number of times in his house, and if he received a telephone call, when the conversation ended he would turn to me and say, “This person asked us such and such a question, and such and such was our answer.” If a question was particularly entertaining, he would tell us about it to put us at ease and be friendly.
He was extremely humble. One sign of his humility was that he would not often add comments of his own in his lessons; the words of the authors of the books were usually enough. It was as if this were a lesson for him, or a revision or reminder for his own benefit. His commentary on Fath al-Baari is very light – he only commented where he felt that it was absolutely necessary. He often used to mention his shaykhs and pray for mercy for them.
He used to write on his books, “By the one who is in need of the Mercy of his Lord, ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, may Allaah forgive him.”
Another sign of his humility was that he would get up and walk over to the women standing by his door, to try and help them by giving them money or answering their questions, etc. On one occasion, he interrupted a debate with some great scholars to answer a woman who was on the phone. When some of them passed a comment, he said, “She needs help.”
If he received an invitation from a janitor or guard in the Islaamic University, at the time when he was the Dean of the University, he would accept. Even though he was so busy, he would be very keen to accept invitations to wedding parties, because the Sunnah urges us to accept such invitations.
A further sign of his humility was that he would sit on the floor to eat, and would dress simply. He wore a loose, colourless thobe that came down no further than mid-calf, and an inexpensive cloak (abayah). His clothes, shoes and cane indicated that he was an ascetic with no interest in the luxuries of this world.
He would spend his salary and even borrow money to help people in need. Once a letter came from the Philippines to His Eminence the Shaykh, rahima-hullaah. It was a letter from a woman who said, “My husband was a Muslim. The Christians took him away and threw him into a well, and I have become a widow and my children orphans. I have no one apart from Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. I said to myself, who can I write to in this world, who can help me after Allaah? There is no one but Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, so I hope that you will help me.” The Shaykh, rahima-hullaah, wrote to the relevant authorities asking them to help her, and they replied that there was no clause that allowed for aid to a woman whose husband had been thrown into a well, and the financial resources were limited. So the Shaykh said to his scribe, “Write a letter for me to the trustee of the fund: ‘With greetings, deduct ten thousand riyals from my salary and send it to this woman.’”
He was very pious and trustworthy. He could be trusted with millions given in charity and zakaah by Muslims, which he would strive to dispense of in the appropriate ways. It is no exaggeration to say that what was spent through him was more than a thousand million.
He used to take care of his students. When he taught in al-Kharj, he asked for accommodation and stipends for them. He would hold classes and halaqahs for them after Fajr, after Zuhr, after ‘Asr and between Maghrib and ‘Isha’. Some of his students who used to read Tafseer Ibn Katheer to him between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ mentioned that often he would be so moved by what was read that he would weep, and sometimes he would weep for so long that the lesson was prolonged, without him realizing it. As soon as he realized, he would end the lesson and they would pray ‘Isha’. He would engage in discussion with his students, especially in matters of inheritance. He would check on their circumstances and try to help them, and he would go with them on trips outside the city. He never forgot to pay attention to their need for physical exercise, such as running and having races, as was related in the Sunnah, in the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah and Salamah ibn al-Akwa’.
When the town of al-Dalam was overwhelmed by floods in 1360 AH, he went out to encourage its people to build barriers. He brought dates and coffee from his own house to serve to the people at the places where they were working. When a swarm of locusts hit the town, the Shaykh went out with the people to kill the insects with palm leaves. He was keen on managing Awqaaf (endowment funds) and establishing schools.
When he was appointed to the administration of the Islaamic University of Madeenah in 1381 AH and thereafter, he used to check on the classrooms and students. He took care of those who had come from other countries, providing them with books and teaching them Arabic. He used to borrow from the University’s funds – to be deducted from his salary – to help poor students. One day he found himself in debt to the University, owing 400 riyals from his next month’s salary, so he borrowed from some of the shaykhs to give money to poor people. When he was appointed as the head of the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas (Idarat al-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta) in 1395 AH, and left Madeenah for Riyaadh, he delivered a speech which moved his colleagues and students to tears.
There are very few people who can be appointed to positions of high rank without altering and becoming arrogant oppressors.
He was a skillful administrator who was appointed to the administration of the Islaamic University in Madeenah, the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas and the Organization of Major Scholars (Hay’at Kibaar al-‘Ulama’). He was a man who was well organized with regard to his time, work, lessons, food and meetings. He would pay due attention to all matters and all people.
He was behind many charitable projects such as building mosques and institutions for the memorization of Qur’aan, Islaamic centres and Sharee’ah institutes. One of his greatest achievements was his effort to establish departments for religious affairs in all government departments and offices, to organize lectures and channel questions and requests for fatwas. Because of this, so much good was done, the true extent of which is known only to Allaah. We ask Allaah to make his good deeds weigh heavily in the Balance because of this.
He had a remarkable ability to distinguish voices even when there were many people around. He could recognize a speaker even if he had not heard his voice for years.
He would remember details about people and would ask them about their circumstances and the state of affairs in their homelands and among their relatives, even though they were so many.
He used to remember Allaah very often, even when eating and between mouthfuls. He often used to say “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah),” and he would send blessings on the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) very frequently. If someone spoke nonsense in his presence, he would tell him, “Sabbih, sabbih! (Glorify Allaah i.e., say Subhaan Allaah)”. He would often remain silent, deep in thought, and when he listened to someone, he would incline his head and listen intently. He had remarkable powers of discernment and could distinguish those who were telling the truth from those who were lying. He also made good choices when selecting people to do various jobs.
He would be very cautious when issuing fatwas. Often he would say things like, “We need to think about it” or “It needs some thought. I will write to the Committee for Issuing Fatwas so that we can discuss the matter with our brothers.” He told me this many times throughout twenty years when I asked him hundreds of questions. When holding a lesson in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah which was filled with people, he would never feel too shy to say, “The matter is not clear in my mind.”
He was filled with fear of Allaah; he would weep readily and be strongly moved, so much so that he would stop a lesson when he was overcome with emotion. Allaah says:
“… It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah…” [Soorah Faatir (35):28]
He used to weep when discussing the story of Ka’b ibn Maalik, and the slander against ‘Aa’ishah (al-ifk), and the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) of the Ansaar, and the Bedouin whose riding-beast broke his neck, so although he had done little, he was given a great reward.
He used to worship Allaah continually and strive to obey his Lord. One of those who accompanied him from al-Taa’if to Riyaadh overland said: when it was the middle of the night, about 2 a.m., the Shaykh said to his companions, “It seems that we are tired. Let us break our journey and sleep.” So we stopped, and barely had our feet touched the ground but we fell asleep. The good ones amongst us prayed one rak’ah or three rak’ahs before sleeping. The Shaykh also started to pray, and when the people with him woke up before Fajr they saw him still praying.
I think – and Allaah knows best – that he was one of the three on whom Allaah will smile, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) mentioned in his hadeeth:
“A man who meets the enemy on the battlefield and faces them bravely until he is killed or he opens the way for his companions; people who are on a journey and have travelled for a good part of the night, until they long to touch the ground (i.e., stop and rest), so they stop, and one of them moves a short distance away from them and starts praying until he wakes them up at the time when they have to resume their journey; and a man who has a neighbour who disturbs him but he bears it patiently until they are separated either by death or by one of them moving away.” [Reported by Imaam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 20377; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3074]
Allah blessed him with acceptance throughout the world. One of those who are involved in da’wah said that he went on a trip to one of the nations in central Africa. “We met an elderly woman who asked, ‘Where are you from?’ We told her through the interpreter that we were from Saudi, and she said, ‘Convey my salaams to Shaykh Ibn Baaz.’” Some of the poor people from Nepal who came to look for work in Saudi asked some contractors about Shaykh Ibn Baaz.
He was a great teacher who paid attention to priorities when teaching people, in accordance with the saying that people should be taught about the minor issues before the major issues.
He would stop answering questions when it was time to respond to the muezzin. If he omitted or forget something, he would put it right. He never omitted to make dhikr after salaah, despite the fact that there were so many people around him asking questions and making requests. He would interrupt his conversation to recite the dhikr for leaving the mosque.
He was always fair to his two wives, and would pray Sunnat al-Maghrib in the house of the wife in whose house he was spending the night.
The number of times he interceded on behalf of others is uncountable. He paid the “zakaah” for his high standing, just as he paid the “zakaah” for his knowledge, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), “Intercede, and you will be rewarded.”
He interceded for old and young and workers. How many students were accepted in universities, how many poor people were given charity and how many workers were able to bring their wives to the Kingdom because of his intercession. He used to strive to reconcile between husbands and wives, and between any people who were engaged in a dispute.
He was very patient, tolerant and easy-going. One day when he was a qaadi (judge) in al-Dalam, a man came in swearing and insulted the Shaykh with obscene words, but the Shaykh kept quiet and did not respond. Then Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez travelled to go to Hajj, and that man died. When they brought him out for the funeral prayer, the imaam of the mosque refused to pray for him. He knew about the incident that had taken place, and said, “I will not pray for someone who insulted a scholar. You go ahead and pray for him.” When the Shaykh came back from Hajj and was told that the man had died and about what had happened, he prayed for mercy for him and rebuked the imaam. He asked them to take him to the man’s grave, where he offered the prayer for him and made du’aa’ for him. A few days before he died, I said to him, “O Shaykh, I want to ask you to forgive me, because there must be some mistake I have made or shortcomings in my behaviour towards you, or I must have misunderstood something you have said, or conveyed something from you inaccurately.” He said, “I forgive, I forgive, may Allaah forgive you.”
He was very generous in giving. I have seen him give his abayah to someone who asked for it. He would never eat alone. He always had lots of guests and he would not eat unless there were others at his table with him. When he fell sick he said to us one time when the food was ready, “Please go ahead and eat, and excuse me.”
Allaah blessed him with a sharp mind, and he was not afflicted with senility. Even the slight forgetfulness that came to him with old age did not affect his ability to issue fatwas or to call evidence to mind and focus on things and understand them, even though he had entered his ninetieth year. A few days before he died, I asked him about a woman who had died before fulfilling her obligation to do sa’ee (running between al-Safa’ and al-Marwah as part of Hajj or ‘Umrah) – should her son do this on her behalf? He said, “You cannot do anything about death, it is inevitable. Her son can do sa’ee on her behalf, just as he can do Hajj on her behalf.” Then he added a qualifier: “But he has to be in a state of ritual ihraam when he does sa’ee on her behalf.” I said, “So he should enter ihraam for ‘umrah and do tawaaf and sa’ee, and before he cuts his hair he should do sa’ee on behalf of his mother?” He said, “Or before he does his own ‘umrah after he has entered ihraam.” This precision of thought stayed with him until the very end of his life.
He worked until his last breath, and his lessons continued until he fell sick. His lesson after Fajr on Thursday lasted for more than three hours. He worked for fifty-eight years and never even took one holiday. He never slept for more than four or five hours in a day. He was entitled to retire with a full salary twenty years ago, but he continued to serve Islaam and to strive in support of the religion.
After he fell sick, whenever the pain got too much for him, once he recovered, he would say to the scribes and assistants around him, “Carry on and read to me what you have.” So they would read the letters, messages, issues of divorce and objectionable things, and pleas for intercession, etc., that would help the country and the people.
Last night, Wednesday night, he was sitting with his family and children until twelve o’clock, when he went to bed. At 2 a.m. his pain got worse, and his soul departed to meet its Maker at Fajr (dawn) on Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 AH, in the city of al-Taa’if, in the Western area of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Shaykh, rahima-hullaah, had started to suffer from pain and infection in the oesophagus when fasting last Ramadaan. He had been to the hospital numerous times, but he never moaned or complained. When the pain was very bad, it could only be seen from a change in his face, and all he would do was put his hand on his chest where it hurt. His death is a great calamity, and the people of Tawheed have been stricken with the painful and grievous news, but all we can do is to accept with patience the will and decree of Allaah, and say only that which pleases our Lord: Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon. Allaahumma ajurnaa fi museebatinaa wakhluf lanaa khayran minhaa (To Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allaah, recompense us for our affliction and replace it for us with something better).
He will be missed by elderly women, who will weep much for him. Many women fell ill when they heard the news. He will be missed by his neighbours, who would be woken for Fajr every day by the sound of his cane banging on their doors as he left to go and pray, to let them know it was time for prayer. He will be missed in the corners of the mosques, in the mihrabs and minbars.
He will be missed by the land over which he walked to and from his prayers and lessons, but it will give testimony in his favour, in sha Allaah, when the earth will speak of all things, good and evil, that were done on it.
“That Day it [the earth] will declare its information (about all that happened on it of good or evil), because your Lord has inspired it.” [Soorah az-Zalzalah (99):4-5]
Two kinds of enemies of Allaah will rejoice at the news of his death: the hypocrites who want to remove Islaam from people’s lives, and the confused followers of bid’ah and desires.
He was a thorn in the sides of the munaafiqeen. His fatwas foiled their evil designs and by means of him Allaah warded off many evils. They were very irrated with him and hoped for his death, and some of them even used to say, “Women will be able to do such and such when the Shaykh dies, and we will have a break from his strict fatwas.” The Shaykh has died and they are still without hope. May Allaah never make them able to achieve what they want!
And now what…? Our loss is great and our grief is overwhelming, but we may find consolation in the following:
- Firstly: the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). ‘Aa’ishah said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) opened a door of his house or pulled back a curtain, and saw the people praying behind Abu Bakr. He gave thanks to Allaah because he saw that they were fine, hoping that Allaah would compensate them for their loss of him with something like what he could see. He said, ‘O people, when any one of the people or of the believers is stricken with a calamity, let him console himself with the thought that this calamity [i.e., the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam)] is greater than whatever he is going through. After my death, no member of my ummah will ever be stricken with a calamity greater than the loss of me.” [Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1588; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7879]
- Secondly: we know that Islaam does not depend on any one person. Allaah is Merciful and He will provide for this ummah someone who will guide it and lead it in the way of knowledge, justice and the legacy of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).
- Thirdly: the students of the Shaykh, the scholars and seekers of knowledge whom he has left behind.
- Fourthly: his “immortal children”, i.e., his books, fatwas, theses and recorded lectures. The knowledge left behind by the scholar is his “immortal child”.
- Fifthly: the dreams that have been seen about him, which are a good sign about him and are one of the parts of Prophethood, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said. Just now I was told about a woman who dreamt, on the night that the Shaykh died, that she saw a light being taken from earth and raised up to heaven. When she woke on the morning ,she heard that the Shaykh had died.
We should not forget our duties towards the Shaykh now, which are: to ask for Allaah’s mercy for him, to make du’aa’ for him, to disseminate his works, to spread news of his virtues and character, and to follow his methodology, which was derived from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
O Allaah, forgive ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, have mercy on him, make his grave wide and fill it with light. Raise his status among the guided and above many of Your creation on the Day of Judgement. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Worlds. Admit him to a place of honour on the Day of Resurrection. O Allaah, compensate the Muslims with good, for You are the All-Hearing Who answers prayers and You are Ever Near.
By a Student of the Shaykh.
Biography of the Shaykh, the Imaam Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee 1332H-1420H
Shaykh Alee Hasan bin ‘Abdil-Hameed Al-Halabee / His book: “With our Shaikh, the Upholder of the Sunnah and the Religion, Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee” (pages 5-11)
His Name and Lineage:
He was Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen bin Nooh bin Aadam Najaatee, Al-Albaanee by birth, Ad-Dimashqee by residence and Al-Urdunee (from Jordan) due to his migration and place of death. He was born in Ashkodera, the capital of Albania, in the year 1332H (1914 C.E.) and it is to this country that he ascribes himself.
He was a Muhaddith (scholar of hadeeth), a Faqeeh (scholar of Fiqh), a caller to the Book and the Sunnah with the understanding of the Salaf As-Saalih (righteous predecessors). And he was a proficient writer and an expert scholar. His father was Al-Hajj Nooh, from the major Hanafee scholars of his land. During the doomed secularist, Ahmad Zogu’s reign of Albania there was severe oppression for the Muslims of that land. Because of this, Al-Hajj Nooh migrated with all of his children, which included Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen, fleeing for the sake of his religion to the land of Shaam. He traveled to Shaam due to what was reported in the prophetic ahaadeeth about its virtues and merits. And it is there that he and his family took residence. Fifty years later, the Shaikh (Al-Albaanee) migrated from here to ‘Amaan, the capital of Jordan. And it is in this city that he remained for the rest of his life as a scholar and teacher and a Faqeeh and educator.
His Educational Background and Teachers:
He received his education in a school, which was part of a relief shelter in Damascus, the capital of Syria. This school served as a place of refuge for seekers of knowledge for many previous generations. He benefited and learned from a number of Shuyookh and people of knowledge the likes of his father Al-Hajj Nooh, Sa’eed Al-Burhaanee and others.
Allaah made the science of the Prophetic Hadeeth beloved to him during the prime of his life and the early part of his youth. This was during the time when he would review articles written by Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Ridaa in the magazine Al-Manaar, in which he would criticize weak narrations that Abu Haamid Al-Ghazaalee mentioned in his book Ihyaa ‘Uloom-ud-Deen.
Shaikh Muhammad Raaghib At-Tabbaakh, the historian and Muhaddith of Halab (Aleppo), authorized him with an Ijaazah (certification) to teach his collection of narrations on trustworthy reporters, called “Al-Anwaar Al-Jaliyyah fee Mukhtasar Al-Athbaat Al-Halabiyyah.” This happened when he saw the Shaikh’s intelligence and extraordinary abilities and his brightness in comprehending and understanding, as well as his strong desire to learn the Islamic sciences and the knowledge of Hadeeth. 
His Early Role in Da’wah and Effects on the Ummah:
He began writing and authoring books during the first stages of the second part of his life (i.e. after reaching middle age). One of the first books he wrote on Fiqh, which was based on knowing the evidences and using comparative Fiqh, was his book: “Tahdheer-us-Saajid min Ittikhaadh al-Quboor Masaajid” (Warning the Worshipper against taking Graves as a Place of Worship). This book was printed many times. And from his first books in which he referenced and checked hadeeth, was his book “Ar-Rawd-un-Nadeer fee Tarteeb wa Takhreej Mu’jam At-Tabaraanee As-Sagheer” (Blossoming Gardens: Arrangement and Referencing of the book Mu’jam As-Sagheer of At-Tabaraanee). This book is still in manuscript form and not printed.
The Shaikh was called and invited by many Islamic universities and Muslim organizations around the world to take high positions with them, but he turned down most of them by making excuses due to his many preoccupations with regard to (acquiring and teaching) knowledge.
He was put in charge of teaching the subject of Prophetic Hadeeth in the Islamic University of Madeenah at the time of its inception for the length of three years, beginning from the year 1381H. Because of him, this move had a great influence in bringing about a scientific and comprehensive revival of the subject of Hadeeth throughout the entire world – on all fronts. As for the official front, then this was by all the universities having a strong concern for that subject, such that they produced a hundred university treatises, which deal specifically with the Science of Hadeeth. As for the general nationwide front, then this was such that a large number of students of knowledge applied for studies in the Science of Hadeeth and specialization in that field. And this goes as well for all the other things that came as a result afterwards. So it became one of the Shaikh’s many effects. One of the greatest proofs for this is the large amount of Hadeeth books, with checked and authenticated chains of narration, and written indexes for Hadeeth that exist today, a majority of which were not known in previous years. No one can deny this effect due to its clear and obvious nature – not even those who opposed the Shaikh and fought against his methodology.
The Scholars’ Praise for Him:
The senior scholars and Imaams of this time praised him and they would ask him questions, go to visit him, seek religious verdicts from him and exchange letters with him. And if they, may Allaah preserve those of them who are living and have mercy on those who have died, were to be counted, all of them would not be able to be accounted for.
At the head of them was the noble Shaikh and great scholar, ‘Abd-ul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah bin Baaz, for he had great esteem and profound respect for him. May Allaah have mercy on them both.
Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Al-Hudda said: “The Shaikh, the great scholar, the ocean (of knowledge), Muhammad Al-Ameen Ash-Shanqeetee (rahimahullaah) – the one whom no one’s knowledge of the Science of Tafseer and the Arabic Language was comparable to his during his lifetime – used to respect Shaikh Al-Albaanee so remarkably to the point that when he would see him passing by, and he was giving his class in the masjid of Madeenah, he would stop his class to stand and give Salaam to him out of respect for him.”
The great scholar, the teacher, Muhibb-ud-Deen Al-Khateeb said: “And from the callers to the Sunnah who devoted their lives to reviving it was our brother Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Nooh Najaatee Al-Albaanee.”
The great scholar Muhammad Haamid Al-Fiqee (rahimahullaah) said: “…the brother, the Salafee, the Scholar, Shaikh Naasir-ud-Deen.”
The former Muftee of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Muhammad bin Ibraheem Aali Shaikh (rahimahullaah) said: “And he is the upholder of the Sunnah, a supporter of the truth and an opposition to the people of falsehood.”
During his lifetime, the father, the Shaikh, ‘Abd-ul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said: “I have not seen under the surface of the sky a person knowledgeable of the Hadeeth in our current time the likes of the great scholar, Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee.”
And he (rahimahullaah) was asked about the hadeeth of the Prophet (saws): “Indeed Allaah raises up from this ummah at the beginning of every century someone who will revive it for them (i.e. a mujaddid).” So he was asked who is the mujaddid of this century? He replied: “Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee. He is the mujaddid in my opinion and Allaah knows best.”
Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said: “From what I came to know of the Shaikh through my gatherings with him – and they were few – was that he was very serious about acting upon the Sunnah and fighting against the innovations. And this was regardless of whether it was about the Belief or about actions. As for through my readings of his written works, then I have come to know that about him, and also that he possesses a vast amount of knowledge of Hadeeth, in terms of reporting them and investigating them. And Allaah has benefited many people through what he has written such as about knowledge, aspects of the Manhaj, and concern for the science of Hadeeth. And he has had an enormous influence on the Muslims, all praise be to Allaah.”
Shaikh Muqbil bin Haadee Al-Waadi’ee (rahimahullaah) said: “Indeed, there cannot be found an equal in terms of the knowledge of Hadeeth like that of Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee. Allaah has given benefit through his knowledge and his books numerous times more than what has been accomplished by those zealots for Islaam who act upon ignorance – those who organize reformation and revolutionary movements. And that which I sincerely believe and am convinced about is that the Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee is from the mujaddideen (reformers/revivers) whom the Prophet (saws) spoke the truth of when he said: ‘Indeed Allaah raises up from this ummah at the beginning of every century someone who will revive it for them (i.e. a mujaddid).’ Reported by Abu Dawood and authenticated by Al-‘Iraaqee and others.”
The Basis of His Da’wah:
The students of the Shaikh – those who learned from him through the university or through his private gatherings of knowledge or through his written works – are many and widespread throughout all parts of the world, all praise be to Allaah. They are spreading the authentic knowledge and calling the people to the pure methodology with strength and firmness.
The Shaikh spent all of his life calling to Allaah upon sound proofs and evidences, basing his call on the methodology of Tasfiyah and Tarbiyah, which is based on knowledge and self-purification. So he was a noble instructor and a truthful educator (enforcing Tarbiyah). By Allaah, we were brought up and raised tremendously by his methodology (manhaj), his agreeable countenance, his good manners, his high morals, his elevated character and his soft heart.
The Shaikh, may Allaah have mercy on him, had many praiseworthy characteristics. Among the most clear, manifest and highest of them was his profound precision with regard to knowledge, his diligence, perseverance, his tolerance (with others), his firmness upon the truth, his quickness to return to correctness, his patience with the hardships of knowledge and Da’wah, and his taking of insults and harms for the sake of the Da’wah, bearing that with patience and consideration.
One of the greatest things that distinguished the Shaikh from many of his (Muslim) brothers amongst the people of knowledge was his strong support for the Sunnah and its adherents, his firmness upon the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih, his love for those who called to it, and his refutation against the deviants from all levels and various positions, with an extreme clearness and a rare clarity.
The Shaikh, rahimahullaah, received a tremendous acceptance from the righteous Muslims all over the world. He gained wide and vast fame and notoriety in all of the different regions of the world, even though he did not seek after it nor strive for it. On the contrary, he would run away and flee from it. And he would always repeat these words: “Love for fame will break one’s back.” May Allaah have mercy on him.
No one amongst mankind had a blessing or bounty over him in any of the worldly affairs. His knowledge was his mediator and his patience was his guide. He was persistent (in his efforts), perseverant, patient, always struggling, earnest and hard working.
The Last Part of His Life:
The Shaikh, rahimahullaah, did not cease to be devoted to the knowledge, persistent in authoring works, diligent in teaching and educating until he reached the age of eighty-six. He did not stop authoring books, writing letters and doing referencing and checking of ahaadeeth – because of his heart’s attachment to that – until the last two months of his life, when he grew very weak. This was until Allaah took his soul in death right before sunset (Maghrib) on Saturday when eight days remained for the end of the month Jumaadaal-Aakhira of the year 1420H (10/2/1999).
His Death and Its Effect on the Ummah:
The Shaikh’s Janaazah (funeral) prayer was performed on the evening of the same day that he died. Scores of people, whose number exceeded that of five thousand persons, prayed over him in a musalla (place of prayer). Despite the fact that his body was prepared, he was prayed over and then buried, his burial was completed at the earliest time possible, in compliance with his final Will, in which he encouraged that the prophetic Sunnah be adhered to and acted upon.
The scholars, students of knowledge and common people were all affected by his loss. When the news of his death was conveyed, he was remembered and praised by the high and respected people of knowledge, such as Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah Aali Shaikh, Chief Muftee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen, Shaikh ‘Abdullaah bin Jibreen, Shaikh Saalih bin ‘Abdil-‘Azeez bin Muhammad Aali Shaikh and others.
 I heard our Shaikh say many times, when mentioning this man’s name: ‘The one whom Allaah has caused his heart to go astray.’ You can find a biography of Ahmad Zogu in the book Al-Mawsoo’at-ul-‘Arabiyyah Al-Muyassarah (1/733).
This is a refutation against those who claim that: ‘Al-Albaanee had no teachers (i.e. Shuyookh)’ or that ‘He studied the knowledge on his own!’
 In spite of this, there are some evil mischievous people today, who are guided by their desires and say about our Shaikh: ‘He was dumb and not able to understand.’ So what transgression do we find from these small ignoramuses and foolish people!
 Translator’s Note: This section of the praise of the scholars for Al-Albaanee was added from Al-Asaalah Magazine Issue 23 (pg. 76-77).
 The brother, Dr. Muhammad Lutfee As-Sabaagh, may Allaah grant him success, related to us that he heard Shaikh Ibn Baaz, rahimahullaah, say about our Shaikh: ‘I don’t know of anyone under the surface of the sky with more knowledge of the Hadeeth of Allaah’s Messenger than Shaikh Naasir.’ [See Ad-Dustoor Newspaper of Jordan (10/8/1999)]
 As for what some people relate from him that he, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘I taught and I did not educate (using Tarbiyah)’, then he only said this out of humbleness and to suppress his soul. And even if this is not so, then I ask, is there anything besides knowledge that will purify and cultivate (Tarbiyah)? Is it only words and expressions?! Or is it purely passions and emotions?!
 There is no contradiction between these last two characteristics, as is made quite clear with the least bit of reflection. By Allaah, how many times have we seen the humility of our Shaikh while he listened to those lower than him in his gatherings In fact, he even asked some of his youngest students and sought explanations from them for aspects of knowledge that he had trouble with. And he would accept peoples’ arguments with open-mindedness. So he had no pride or haughtiness. We ask you, O Allaah, to rectify our hearts and to grant us refuge from the evils of our souls.
 The Shaikh handed me his introduction – written with his own hand – to the book Madaarik An-Nadhr fis-Siyaasah of the brother, the Shaikh ‘Abdul-Malik Ramadaanee – so that I can give it to him. In this introduction is found the Shaikh’s support for the book, according to the correct manner, and his aid for what clear truth is found in it. But in spite of this, we hear from some people that they have doubts about the Shaikh’s introduction (!) or they say that he wrote it before the book was put in order! So then what was it?! That book was the book itself, without any doubt about it! As for what was supplemented to it, then that was only to aid and support its original status – they were not additions that changed the books main ideas. So based on this, warning against this book and belittling its status is an injustice that is contrary to what is correct and it is in opposition to what our senior scholars and Shaikhs are upon.
 So what some people say to themselves or that which some of them whisper to others – that they share credit in the Shaikh’s fame or that they are responsible for people knowing him (!), then these are words, which the present situation and current conditions contradict and oppose.
Biography Of Shaykh, the Imaam Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen 1347H – 1421H
His Name and Birth
He was, rahimahullaah, Abu Abdullaah Muhammad Ibn Saalih Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Uthaymeen at-Tamimi an-Najdi. Shaikh Uthaymeen, as he was most known, was born in the city of Unayzah, Qaseem Region, Saudi Arabia, on 27th Ramadhan 1347H in a famous religious family.
He got his education from many prominent scholars like Shaikh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Naasir as-Sa’dee (1307H – 1376H), Shaikh Muhammad Ameen ash-Shanqeetee (1325H – 1393H), and Shaikh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Baaz (1330H – 1420H), along with many more.
When he entered into teaching, a great number of students from inside and outside Saudi Arabia benefited from him. He was known for his own unique style of interpretation and explanation of religious points. He is from among those scholars who served Islaam without any type of religious prejudice and kept themselves away from the limitations of blind-following. He is distinguished in his great exertion of effort in religious matters and analogical deductions which clearly prove the religious understanding he possessed, and the correct usage of the principles of religion he adopted.
Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen, along with Shaikh Naasir-ud-Deen al-Albaanee (d. 1420H), Shaikh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Baaz (d. 1420H), and Shaikh Muqbil Ibn Haadee al-Waadi’ee (d. 1422H), were the era of 1400H top Ahlus-Sunnah scholars, although many more deserve to be mentioned in the strive for this Deen of Islaam, such as:
- Shaikh Abdullaah Ibn Abdur-Rahmaan al-Jibreen,
- Shaikh Sa’eed Ibn Alee Ibn Wahf Al-Qahtaani,
- Dr. Saalih Ibn Fawzaan Ibn Abdullaah Al-Fawzaan,
- Shaikh Muhammad bin Jameel Zaynoo,
- Shaikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid and,
- Shaikh Saifur-Rahmaan Mubarakpooree, amongst others.
In giving religious verdicts, Shaikh Uthaymeen’s Fataawa (i.e, rulings/verdicts) are based on the Manhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah which is evidenced from the Qur’aan and Sunnah. He has about fifty compilations to his credit. Recently before his death, he was teaching religious Fundamentals at the Sharee’ah Faculty of Imaam Muhammad Ibn Sa’ud Islaamic University, Qaseem Branch. He was also a member of the Senior Scholars Committee of the Kingdom, and was the Imaam and Khateeb of the big Mosque of Unayzah city.
Among his well-known works in Da’wah:
- Tafseer Ayatul-Kursee
- Sharh Riyadh Saaliheen
- Musdhalihah Hadeeth
- Kitaab ul-Ilm
- Qawaa’id Muthla fi Sifaati Allah wa Asmaa’ihil Husna
- Aqeedah Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah
- Sharh Usool Thalaathah
- Qawl Mufiid ala Kitaab ut-Tawheed
- Sharh Usool Eemaan
- Sharh Lum’atul I’tiqad
- Sharh Aqeedatu Waasiti
- Sharh al-Mumti’ ala zaadil Mustaqni’
- Fataawa Arkaan ul-Islaam
- Majmoo’ Fataawa on many topics of Islamic Aqeedah and Fiqh
Shaikh Uthaymeen’s works can be found comprehensively at: http://www.ibnothaimeen.com
Shaikh Uthaymeen was famous for his simplicity, modesty, along with exceptional mannerisms towards all those he encountered, as well as his exceptional mannerisms in approach to topics free of dogmatic arguments. He is among the pre-eminent scholars of the era after 1400H.
Shaikh Uthaymeen passed away on Wednesday 15 Shawwal, 1421H. He was 74 years of age. He was buried in Makkah.