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I traveled to Riyadh to meet Shaykh Ibn Baz, carrying with me a copy of an invitation to a concert in our city Dammam in Saudi Arabia. To tell you the truth, I was not sure if my visit would make any difference; these types of concerts were supported by some powerful people in that region. I had only met Shaykh Ibn Baz a few times up until that point and I didn't even think he knew me as I was only a freshman in college.  So here I was, an unknown freshman, entering the office of the Mufti of Saudi Arabia.

His office was large; it could host up to seventy people in my estimation, but it was simple.  In the middle of the room was a large desk that was filled with files–letters that were coming from all over the world.  There was a phone next to him that did not stop ringing as questioners, ranging from judges and students of knowledge down to the average Muslim, called the shaykh's line to ask him for fatwas.  I realized the uniqueness of my position, being in the presence of Shaykh Ibn Baz, was not so unique at all.

It was he raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) who gave his audience to everyone who requested it.  Past the desk there was a comfortable arm chair that he would sit on and there were two chairs across from it and one chair on each of its sides.  On each side an assistant would sit, one to read his letters and one to write his answers as the Shaykh was blind, and those requesting a meeting with the shaykh would sit in either of the seats across from him. The Shaykh was never seen sitting behind his desk; he never wanted to have a barrier between himself and the people.

He start asking me about the da'wah in our city, my studies, and the Shuyukh that he knew in our region.  He then asked, “What can I help you with, son?”  I told him about the upcoming concert, and he said “La Hawla wala Quwata illa billah.  I will see what I can do.”

I thought my job was over and so I said, “Jazak Allah khaira” and was going to leave, but he asked me to wait.  He called Prince Naif raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him), the Interior minister at that time, and said among other things: “I have one of the mashayikh here. He came to me complaining about a concert that will happen in Dammam and I've talked to the governor of the Eastern Province many times before about similar issues and he did not listen to my advice so I want you to take care of it and talk to him. I will wait for your call.”  The shaykh made du'a for him and ended the call.  I was quite scared when I realized he was talking to the interior minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;  I was too young and insignificant to deal with or witness that level of communication!

The shaykh again asked me to wait and he said: “May Allah let us hear a good response today.  May Allah guide him to stop this haram.” While I sat and waited I witnessed something that I have never seen in my life from any Shaykh other than Shaykh Ibn Baz.

His secretary read a letter from a woman from Mauritania requesting Shaykh Ibn Baz to continue his financial support to her son who was studying in college. She said that if his financial support stops, then her son might need to quit studying and start working to provide for the family. She wrote, “The only one I could think of after Allah is you, Ibn Baz, to help.” Her son had only 2 years left to finish his studies. The shaykh asked his secretary to give her the financial support for the next two years.  His secretary responded saying, “The donation fund is empty.”  Ibn Baz then ordered him to give from the zakah fund, but the answer was the same!  Shaykh Ibn Baz said, “Give her from my personal account” only to find the response was the same: “You have no money left for this month, O Shaykh. You have given it all in similar cases.”  I later learned that the Shaykh had a dedicated portion of his monthly salary that went to cases of charity, and by the middle of the month, that portion was completely depleted.  Then the Shaykh said, “Take a loan in my name, send the money to the woman and I hope I would be able to pay that loan back soon.”  The mufti of Saudi Arabia, a man with a million possible excuses to offer, taking a loan for a woman in Mauritania that he would never benefit from at all in this world – I simply could not believe what I was seeing!

In less than one hour the Shaykh received a phone call from the prince to let him know that he canceled the concert and he made sure that such practices would not happen in the future. The Shaykh was so happy that I could see it on his face and kept saying alhamdulillah so many times. Then he thanked me as if I was the one who canceled it and he encouraged me to always stand up for the truth and to take action upon seeing wrong.  He asked me to join him for lunch that day and I learned even more great lessons from him that I hope to share soon.

The respect I received that day in my youth and the confidence that was instilled in me by him made me who I am today. His caring for the weak, the poor, and those who were close and far from him made his excellency, Samahat Alshaykh Ibn Baz, the man he was raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him).

This is a weekly series of stories about my teachers and what I have learned from them through my years of studying with them. If you enjoy these stories and lessons and think they should continue, please show your support by commenting here and liking and sharing the post on my Facebook page!

18 Responses

  1. hijaabiintherain

    Jazakallahu Khairun for sharing these stories it is much appreciated

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  2. Sabah

    That was beautiful Shaykh. JazakAllahu khairan for sharing. I hope you will continue to write about your experiences, and insha’Allah we will continue to read them and benefit from them.

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  3. tk20

    asalamualaikum,

    i usually never ever make comments but I had to say this: this is the best series i’ve seen on muslimmatters. please don’t stop with such amazing stories. i love reading about our ulama and real life events. it’s so uplifting and motivating to read about them and how they really were. keep posting such wonderful stories and may Allaah assist you and grant you immense reward!

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  4. Ivory Tower

    this is very inspiring, however I have one question. All the stories so far talk about music and concerts etc. Is this the only “vice” that exists in KSA?

    I would like to hear about how the shaykh helped to push legislation protecting the rights of labourers, maids, and minorities in KSA. Aren’t torture, virtual slavery, false imprisonment, and rape more urgent issued that need to be addressed? Did no one ever inform the shaykh that thousands of workers in the kingdom aren’t paid for months or even years and their passports are confiscated?

    I would like to hear about the shaykh’s efforts in these areas and what he was able to accomplish.

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    • Sona

      it’s definitely important to address these issues, but you take things one step at a time.. besides, you don’t know if the shaykh did bring up these concerns but his suggestions may have been ignored..

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  5. Abu Ahmad

    Humanizing these great figures goes a long way in creating unity between the different ideologies. regardless of our opinions of these shuyookh’s opinions, their taqwa and love of Allah really shows from these stories.

    I remember once in a family gathering, all the older men began to bash Saudi Arabia and their scholarship. I was 19 or so at the time. One of the men said something about Sheikh Bin Baz and my father stopped him and said, “Say what you want about anyone except Bin Baz.” I was really shocked at my dad’s response as he was not a religious man and really despised the version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. Intrigued, I asked him, “That’s strange – why are you defending him?!”

    He responded, “When I moved to Saudi Arabia in 1991, I happened to share a wall with this man (whom I didn’t know). Being a foreign man with no family in the country, he would personally check up on me, bring food and take me to the masjid with him. I found out later that he was the Grand Mufti of the country.”

    May Allah have mercy on him and those that serve Allah’s deen sincerely. I recall Ibn Qayyims statement, “If you wish to take a role model, take one in those who have passed.”

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  6. Waleed.

    Assalam-wa-Alaikum,
    I wish that my country had had people like Shaykh Ibn Baz and ruler like that of Prince Naif.
    Brings tears to my eyes.

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    • mrf

      Having grown up in Saudi Arabia I am not too keen on your country having a ruler like Prince Naif or any of the big rulers of the country for that matter! May Allaah grant myself and the Ummah goodness & also good, righteous leaders to govern the Muslims. Ameen

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  7. mrf

    Couldn’t prevent tears. These great scholars went to such great lengths to perform righteous actions & Allaah enabled them to leave the dunya with great dignity & legacy.

    May Allaah Subhana wa ta’ala enable us to emulate the righteous scholars of the deen. Ameen

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