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H.E. Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal Al Sheikh

Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Sheikh has the highest position of religious authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is an Islamic scholar based in Makkah and has influence as a leading cleric of the expansive global movement of Salafi Muslims.

 


Salafi Lineage

The Al-Sheikh family in Saudi Arabia traditionally controls the religious and justice establishments. They are descended from Muhammad ibn Abd Al Wahhab (1703- 1792), the founder of Wahhabi and Salafi thought, and for 250 years have been closely associated and intermarried with the ruling Al Saud family.

Head of Sunni Jurisprudential Committees

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh is chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars, a scientific consultative commission composed of leading Sunni specialist scholars of Shari‘ah (Islamic law). He has been behind fatwas that call for more rights for women and children. Al-Sheikh is also chairman of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and fatwas (religious edicts), a special committee designated for the researching and issuing of religious rulings and edicts on jurisprudence, Hadith, and Aqida (creed) for the Sunni world. As head of the Presidency for Scientific Research and Religious Edicts (Dar al Ifta), Al-Sheikh is often the spokesperson for controversial rulings issued from the Kingdom. He is recognised for his influence in enforcing a distinct view of Islamic traditionalism. In 2008, he publicly criticised Muslim televangelists who encouraged Muslims to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries—stressing, instead, that only the two occasions of ‘Eid and the weekly Friday observations are valid occasions to celebrate. In this, and also in his condemnation of Turkish soap operas sweeping the Arab World, Al-Sheikh has stressed the importance of eliminating distracting practices. He is also ardently opposed to the practice of marrying off very young girls to older men, emphasizing its incongruence with human decency and Islamic tradition. Central Figure of Global Salafi Movement: As Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al- Sheikh is the leading religious figure of the Saudibased network of Salafi Muslims. The rulings issued by Al-Sheikh are based heavily on a literal reading of the Qur’an and emphasize the need to strip away innovative cultural practices that have become a part of Muslims’ lives. The movement he leads is characterised by an authoritative stance on Islamic religious practice.

Eminent Scholarship

Grand Mufti Al-Sheikh is recognised as a leading contemporary scholar of Islam. He has leveraged this influence by openly speaking out against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda as entities that push a dangerous ideological terrorism. He spoke for the need for a war—to be fought by academics, the media, religious leaders and even parents—against deviant thought that leads overzealous Muslims toward extremism and violence.

12 The number of years he has been serving as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
20 The age at which he lost his eyesight, 51 years ago.
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“The ethics of a true believer are portrayed in his brother, for when he sees good deeds he encourages him … And if he perceives any sort of violation and abuse of Sharia’, he seeks to set him on the right path and amend (him)."

Birth: 1 January 1943 (Age: 71)

Source of Influence: ,

Influence: Grand Mufti to 26.2 million Saudi residents and the global network of Salafi Muslims

School of Thought:

Status: Featured in current year

“The ethics of a true believer are portrayed in his brother, for when he sees good deeds he encourages him … And if he perceives any sort of violation and abuse of Sharia’, he seeks to set him on the right path and amend (him)."
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12 The number of years he has been serving as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
20 The age at which he lost his eyesight, 51 years ago.
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