A Heresiography of ibn Baz

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following article is adapted from ibn Baz: A Heresiography by Shaykh Gibril Haddad.  This is an overview of the kufr and hypocrisy of ibn Baz, an enemy of the awliya’ and scholars, a disparager of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and a blasphemer.  He was a kafir and a mushrik.

‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baz, the late nescient mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was a major innovator whose influence on spreading deviant beliefs is incalculable.  The present crippling of Islam and Muslims took place under his leadership and as a direct result of his policies, as listed by Imam Yusuf ar-Rifa’i (q.s.), in his Naswihat li Ikhwanina ‘Ulama’ Najd.

As former overall president of the Directorships of Scholarly Research, Ifta’, Da’wah, and Irshad; ibn Baz is on record for issuing a fatwa declaring as unIslamic, the Palestinian people’s uprising against the Jewish State of Israel, whereas he never condemned the practices, in his own country, of gambling, horse-racing, and usury.  In the late sixties, he declared any and all forms of cooperation with the kuffar prohibited and cast a judgement of apostasy on Gamal Abdel Nasser, then President of Egypt, for employing a civilian force of a few hundred Russian engineers to build the Aswan dam.  In the early nineties, he contradicted his earlier fatawa, and made it halal for kufr forces to come, under their flag and sovereignty, in the hundreds of thousands, to occupy Muslim lands and destroy Iraq, because of “necessity”.  There was also no problem for them to stay after this “necessity” was over.  He had no problems with Saudi Arabia employing thousands of these “kuffar”.

In his infamous al-Adilla an-Naqliyyah wa al-Hissiyyah ‘ala Jarayan ash-Shamsi wa Sukuni al-‘Ardh, ‘The Transmitted and Sensory Proofs of the Rotation of the Sun & Stillness of the Earth”, he asserted that the Earth was flat and disk-like and that the Sun revolved around it.  When confronted about it, he backtracked and said he was misquoted.  So, he was a liar as well.

Like all the anthropomorphists of his school, ibn Baz added modifiers to the Divine Attributes, asserting, for example, that Allah (s.w.t.), “istawa ‘ala al-‘Arsh haqqan,” variously translated as, “He Established Himself over the Throne in person” or “actually” or “literally”; “haqqan” being an innovated addition which violates the practice of the true Salaf consisting in asserting the Divine Attributes bila kayf, without a “how”; any modifier being by definition a modality.  Such an innovated addition is an avenue to anthropomorphism.

Article 38 of Imam ath-Thahawi’s (r.a.) ‘Aqidah states, “He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs.  Nor is He contained by the six directions as all Created entities are.”

In his footnote to Article 38, ibn Baz asserted, “Allah is beyond limits that we know but has limits He knows.”  This is, like “haqqan”, a true innovation of misguidance and innovated phrase as stated by Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) and others, utterly unsupported by the Qur’an, the sunnah, and the consensus, and violating the practice of the true Salaf who refrained from indulging in speculations of modality whenever they mentioned the Divine Attributes.  This footnote also appears in Shu’ayb Hassan’s translation in English, which also contains other major doctrinal errors.

ibn Baz’s Najdi colleagues commit the same ugly innovation.  ‘Abdullah al-Hashidi, in his edition of Imam al-Bayhaqi’s (r.a.) al-Asma’ wa asw-Swifat, stated, “As for us, we affirm a form for Allah unlike forms,” while al-Albani, in his Sharh, approvingly quoted Muhammad ibn Mani’’s remonstration of Imam ath-Thahawi (r.a.) for this particular article and his pretense that the imam, perhaps, did not write it in the first place, saying, “The imam and author was in no need at all for these invented, wrongly suggestive words, and if someone were to say that they are interpolated and not his own words, I would not think it improbable, so as to keep a good opinion of him.”  Muhammad ibn Mani’ was quoted by al-Albani in the latter’s commentary in al-‘Aqidah ath-Thahawiyyah Sharh wa Ta’liq.

ibn Baz also suggested corporeal limbs for Allah (s.w.t.) in his statement in Taliqat Hammah ‘ala ma Katabahu ash-Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali asw-Swabuni fi Swifat Allah, “Important Comments on What Shaykh asw-Swabuni Wrote Concerning the Divine Attributes”, that, “To declare Allah transcendent beyond possessing body, pupils, auditory meatus, tongue, and larynx is not the position of the Ahl as-Sunnah but rather that of the scholars of condemned kalam and their contrivance.”  This is found in Tanbihat Hammah.

By his phrase, “the scholars of condemned kalam,” he has disparaged Imam ibn Khafif (r.a.), Imam ibn ‘Abd as-Salam (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Juwayni (r.a.), Imam ibn Hibban (r.a.), Shaykh ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.), Imam al-Ghazzali (r.a.), Imam ar-Razi (r.a.), Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.), Imam al-Maziri (r.a.), Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), Imam al-Fazdawi (r.a.), Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.), Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.), Imam al-Khathib (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Jawzi (r.a.), Imam ibn Daqiq al-‘Iyd (r.a.), Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.), Shah Wali’ullah, the entire Ash’ari and Maturidi madzahib and, lately, Shaykh asw-Swabuni (r.a.); all of whom asserted transcendence in similar terms.  As Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) stated, in Fath al-Bari, “The elite of the mutakallimun said, ‘He knows not Allah, who attributes to Him resemblance to His Creation, or attributes a hand to Him, or a son.”  Contrary to this, the doctrine of the Literalists consists in attributing an actual hand to the Creator.  But ibn Baz, in his notes on Fath al-Bari charged Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) and Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) with abandoning the way of the Ahl al-Sunnah for stating that the Hand of Allah (s.w.t.) does not pertain to a bodily appendage.  This is similar to the pretext of the anthropomorphist who said, “We expelled ibn Hibban from Sijistan for his lack of religion: he used to say that Allah is not limited!”  This is found in Imam ibn as-Subki’s (r.a.), Thabaqat ash-Shafi`iyyah al-Kubra’.

ibn Baz’s acolyte, Muhammad Zinu, made a similar claim of corporeality in his book Tanbihat Hammah ‘ala Kitab Swafwat at-Tafasir, “Important Cautions Regarding ‘The Quintessence of Commentaries’”.  “The Quintessence of Commentaries” was authored by Imam asw-Swabuni.  Imam asw-Swabuni blasted both of them in his 1988 rebuttal, Kashf al-Ifthira’at fi Risalat Tanbihat Hawla Swafwat at-Tafasir, “Exposing the Lies of the Epistle ‘Cautions’”.

ibn Baz explicitly attributed a geographical direction to Allah (s.w.t.), and affirmed that such was the belief of “the companions and those who followed them in excellence – they assert a direction for Allah, and that is the direction of height, believing that the Exalted is above the Throne.”

In his tract, translated into English as “Authentic Islamic Aqeedah and What Opposes It”, ibn Baz called those who visit the graves of saints “unbelievers” who commit what he calls kufr ar-rububiyyah.  This fatwa compounded three innovations: the dreadful sin of indiscriminately declaring millions of Muslims kafir without the proofs and due process required by the purified shari’ah; the blind, wholesale dismissal of the numerous orders of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in the authentic sunnah to visit the graves for they are reminders of the hereafter; and the branding of Muslims with an innovated classification of disbelief he calls kufr ar-rububiyyah.

The weakness of ibn Baz’s doctrinal positions can be inferred from the very title of one of his tracts purportedly designed to champion true doctrine, Iqamat al-Barahin ‘ala Hukmi man Istighatsa’ bi Ghayrullah, “Establishing the Patent Proofs for the Judgment on Whoever Calls for Help Other than Allah”.  For the licitness of istighatsa’ or calling for help of a creature qualified to help, is patently established in the Qur’an and sunnah, as shown by the verse:

… Now the man of his own people appealed to him against his foe … (Surah al-Qaswasw:15)

And this is supported by Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) narration of the Prophet (s.a.w.), from ibn `Umar (r.a.), “Truly the sun shall draw so near on the Day of Resurrection that sweat shall reach to the mid-ear, whereupon they shall ask help from Adam (a.s.), then from Musa (a.s.), then from Muhammad (s.a.w.) who will intercede.”  Furthermore, ibn Baz directly contradicted Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s words, in Majmu’at at-Tawhid: “We do not deny nor reject the invocation of help from the creature insofar as the Created can help, as Allah Most High Said in the story of Musa (a.s.): ‘Now the man of his own people appealed to him against his foe’.”

An inveterate deprecator of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and principal enemy of the Sufis, in one of his fatawa, he asserted, “Among other things, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), after his death, never appears in a vision to a wakeful person.  He of the ignorant Sufis who claims that he sees, while vigilant, the vision of the Prophet, or that that vision attends the Mawalid or the like, is guilty of the foulest error, and exceedingly deluded,” and, “the dead never rise out of their graves in this world save on the Day of Judgement.”

The above is a claim to know in their entirety the unseen; the wherewithal of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in barzakh; and the states of the servants of Allah (s.w.t.); in addition to an impious reference to the Prophet (s.a.w.) as “the dead”.  Surely, it is ibn Baz who is dead while the Prophet (s.a.w.), as stated by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi (q.s.) in Manhaj as-Salaf, “is alive with a complete isthmus-life which is greater and better and more perfect than worldly life – indeed, higher, dearer, sweeter, more perfect, and more beneficial than worldly life.”

It is also related from one of the great Sufi shuyukh, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadzili (q.s.) who, unlike ibn Baz, was only physically blind, whom the ahadits master Imam ibn al-Mulaqqin (r.a.) mentioned in his Thabaqat al-Awliya’, and concerning whom, Imam ibn Daqiq al-‘Iyd (r.a.) said, “I never saw anyone more knowledgeable of Allah,” that he said, “If I ceased to see the Prophet (s.a.w.) for one moment, I would no longer consider myself a Muslim.”  His teacher, Shaykh  Abu al-‘Abbas al-Mursi (q.s.) said the same.  The Ghawts, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ad-Dabbagh (q.s.) said something similar, as reported from him by his student, Imam  Ahmad ibn al-Mubarak (q.s.) in al-Ibriz.

As for attending Mawlid, “a vision” does not attend or do anything, but the spirits of the believers who passed away, together with the angels and the believing jinn, are certainly related to attend the gatherings of the pious all over the earth.  Imam ibn al-Kharrat (r.a.), in al-‘Aqibah; Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.), in ar-Ruh; Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.), in at-Tadzkirat; Imam ibn Abi al-Dunya (r.a.), in al-Qubur; Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), in Sharh asw-Swudur; Imam ibn Rajab (r.a.), in Ahwal al-Qubur; and others relate from many of the Salaf, including Imam Malik (r.a.) in al-Muwaththa’, that the spirits of the believers in barzakh are free to come and go anywhere they please.  This is all the more possible for our Prophet (s.a.w.) as we celebrate Mawlid specifically to remember him and invoke blessings upon him.

ibn Baz passed a fatwa that, “It is not permissible to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet (s.a.w.); in fact, it must be stopped, as it is an innovation in the religion.”  His sole proof for this declaring an act illicit and an innovation in Islam is that it did not take place in the early centuries of Islam, whereas Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) and the a’immah and scholars of the principles of jurisprudence defined innovation in the religion as “that which was not practiced before, and contravenes the Qur’an and sunnah.”  It is noteworthy that the heads of the “Salafi” movement and those of their offshoots who propagate their views are always careful, through ignorance and duplicity, to omit this second, indispensable pre-condition in their definition of bid’ah.  Furthermore, the majority of the scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah concur either out loud or tacitly on the licit character of the celebration of the Mawlid provided the usual etiquette of Islam in public gatherings is kept.

Lastly, the Hanbali madzhab in its entirety never declared forbidden the celebration of the Mawlid and even Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) stated that one who celebrates it with sincere intentions will be Rewarded.  A thorough refutation of ibn Baz’s fatwa on Mawlid was issued by the Imam Ahmed Raza Academy in South Africa and published on the Internet.

ibn Baz revived the innovation and invalid fatwa of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) to the effect that it is forbidden to travel with the intention of visiting the Prophet (s.a.w.), in his notes on Imam ibn Hajr’s (r.a.) Fath al-Bari, Fadhl asw-Swalat fi Makkah wa al-Madina.  Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) had commented on Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah’s (r.a.) prohibition of travel for ziyarah: “ibn Taymiyyah said, ‘This kind of trip, traveling to visit the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is a disobedience, and swalat must not be shortened during it.’  This is one of the ugliest matters reported from ibn Taymiyyah.”

To this, ibn Baz wrote in a footnote, “It is not ugly, and ibn Taymiyyah was right.”  Indeed, Imam ibn Hajr’s (r.a.) teacher, Imam Zayn ad-Din al-‘Iraqi (r.a.), rightly called it in his Tharh al-Tatsrib, “a strange and ugly saying.”

ibn Baz also reduplicated word for word, and without the least critical analysis or original understanding of the evidence, the pretense of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) whereby, “The ahadits that concern the desirability of visiting the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are all weak, indeed forged.”  This claim among the Wahhabis was laid to its final rest by Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh’s superb documentation work Raf` al-Minara fi Takhrij Ahadits at-Tawaswswul wa az-Ziyarah, “Raising the Lighthouse: Documentation of the Narrations Pertaining to Using an Intermediary & Visitation”.

Another deviation of ibn Baz in his remarks on Fath al-Bari is his characterising the visit of the companion, Bilal ibn al-Harits (r.a.), to the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his tawaswswul for rain there as “aberrant,” “munkar”, and “an avenue to polytheism”, “wasilah ila ash-shirk”.

Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.), and others, narrate from Malik ad-Dar (r.a.), ‘Umar’s (r.a.) treasurer, that the people suffered a drought during the caliphate of ‘Umar (r.a.), whereupon a man came to the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your community, for verily they have but perished,”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) appeared to him in a dream and told him: “Go to ‘Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered.  Tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!”

The man went and told `Umar (r.a.).  The latter said, “O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!”

Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) cited it thus from Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.), in al-Bidayah wa an-Nihayah, and said, “Isnaduhu swahih”, “the chain is authentic”.  Imam ibn Abi Shaybah (r.a.) also cited it, in his Muswannaf, with a sound chain as confirmed by Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.), who cited the hadits in the 3rd chapter of Istisqa’ in Fath al-Bari and al-Iswabah, identifying the man who visited and saw the Prophet (s.a.w.) in his dream as Bilal ibn al-Harits (r.a.).  He counts this hadits as one of the reasons for Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) naming of the chapter “The people’s request to their leader for rain if they suffer drought.”

One of ibn Baz’s innovations in uswul is his public declaration, in the Saudi periodical al-Majalla, that he did not adhere to the Hanbali madzhab, “but only to the Qur’an and sunnah,” whereas Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) himself asserted, in Mukhtaswar al-Fatawa al-Miswriyyah, that the truth is not found, in the whole shari’ah, outside the four madzahib.  Nor have any two Sunni ‘ulama on the face of the earth agreed on the qualification of ibn Baz as an absolute mujtahid capable of extracting his own proofs and madzhab from the primary evidences of the shari’ah.  On the contrary, his fiqh is superficial compared to his subordinate, ibn al-‘Utsaymin; his natural bent for taqlîd is evident, his blunders numerous, and his innovations countless.

Among the other innovations of ibn Baz in doctrine, he tried to rectify whatever did not please him in Fath al-Bari with interpersed remarks that do not qualify as commentary but as an attempt to substitute Imam ibn Hajr’s (r.a.) Ash`ari doctrine with anthropomorphism as the Islamic creed.  Under his leadership, Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah’s (r.a.) Majmu’at al-Fatawa al-Kubra’ received a new edition from which the 10th volume, on taswawwuf, was suppressed.

ibn Baz did his best to aid and abet the main innovators of our time such as al-Albani, on whom he bestowed the King Faysal Prize “for services rendered to Islam” the year before their respective deaths.  He abetted al-Albani’s student and deputy in Kuwait, ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Abd al-Khaliq, the author of the despicable attack on the awliya’, Fadha’ih asw-Swufiyyah, “Scandals of the Sufis”, and which Imam al-Buwthi (r.a.) termed an exercise in calumny.  ibn Baz supported Muqbil ibn Hadi al-Wadi`i who asked that the Rawdhah be brought out of the Mosque and the Green Dome destroyed, and roamed the land in Yemen with armed thugs, digging up the graves of the dead with picks and spades.  And there were so many more.

Imam Yusuf ar-Rifa’i (q.s.) said to the ‘ulama of Najd, “You left none but yourselves as those who are saved, forgetting the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) saying, ‘If anyone says, ‘The people have perished,’ then he has perished the foremost.’”  This hadits was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) by Imam Malik (r.a.), Imam Ahmad (r.a.), Imam Muslim (r.a.), Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) in al-Adab al-Mufrad, and Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.).


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