Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh

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Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh
Grand Mufti and General President for Scientific Researches and Fatwa
In office
June 1999 – present
Monarch King Fahd
King Abdullah
King Salman
Preceded by Abdul Aziz ibn Baaz
Personal details
Born (1941-02-10)10 February 1941
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Nationality Saudi Arabian
Alma mater Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University
Profession Muslim Scholar
Religion Islam

‘Abdu’l-‘Azīz ibn ‘Abdu’llāh ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdu’l-Laṭīf Āl ash-Sheikh (Arabic: عبد العزيز بن عبد الله بن محمد بن عبد اللطيف آل الشيخ‎) (born 30 November 1943) is a Muslim scholar and the current Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.[1] As Grand Mufti, he is the head of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas.


Abdul Aziz Al ash-Sheikh was born on 30 November 1943, a member of Saudi Arabia's leading family, the Al ash-Sheikh. He began studying the Quran at the Ahmad Bin Sanaan Mosque. In 1954, he transferred to the Imaam ad-Da'wah Institute where he graduated from the Faculty of Sharia in 1962.

He then began his active religious life, and worked as a teacher at the Imaam ad-Da'wah al-'Ilmee Institute until 1971. He then transferred to teaching at the Faculty of Sharia (at the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University) in Riyadh and continued there until 1991. While at the Faculty of Sharia he supervised university theses, and took part in thesis discussions and debates. Since 1993 he has taken part in responding to questions on the radio program "Noorun 'alad-Darb". He also used to hold lessons in the Central Mosque of al-Imam Turki bin 'Abd-llah. He takes part in seminars and lectures alongside his work in the field of dawah in Riyadh and Ta'if. Since his birth he suffered from weak eyesight, until he lost his sight altogether in 1960.

In June 1999, he was appointed Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia by King Fahd, succeeding Abdul Aziz ibn Baaz.[2]


Following the Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy, he called the pope's declaration "lies", adding that they "show that reconciliation between religions is impossible".[3]

In 2007, he announced plans to demolish the Green Dome and flatten the tombs housed under it, including that of Muhammad.[4]

On 15 March 2012, he declared that, "All churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed". Abdulaziz bin Abdullah cited an Islamic hadith quoting the Prophet Mohammed on his deathbed.[5][6] His declaration about the destruction of churches in the Arabian Peninsula led to negative comments. Roman Catholic bishops in Germany and Austria responded sharply to his fatwa, concerned about the human rights of non Muslims working in the Persian Gulf region. Russian Orthodox Archbishop Mark of Yegoryevsk said the ruling was "alarming". Still, it seemed that most of the world overlooked the statement.[7] Mehmet Görmez, the most senior imam in Turkey, another Muslim country, blasted the Saudi grand mufti’s call to “destroy all the churches” in the Persian Gulf region, saying that the announcement totally contradicted the peaceful teachings of the Muslim religion. Görmez, the president of Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Presidency of Religious Affairs), said he could not accept the Islamic religious order—fatwa—issued by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al ash-Sheikh, adding that the mufti’s declaration ran contrary to the centuries-old Islamic teachings of tolerance and the sanctity of institutions belonging to other religions.[8]

In April 2012, he issued a fatwa allowing ten-year-old girls to marry insisting that girls are ready for marriage by age 10 or 12: "Our mothers and grandmothers got married when they were barely 12. Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age."[9]

In June 2013, he issued a fatwa demanding the destruction of statues of horses placed in a roundabout in Jizan: "The sculptures [must] be removed because they are a great sin and are prohibited under Sharia (Islamic law)".[10]

The Grand Mufti issued a fatwa on September 12, 2013 that suicide bombings are "great crimes" and bombers are "criminals who rush themselves to hell by their actions". Sheikh described suicide bombers as "robbed of their minds... who have been used (as tools) to destroy themselves and societies."[11]

On September 16, 2013 he condemned violence against non-Muslims living in Islamic countries or Muslims labeled as infidels. The Grand Mufti condemned acts that cause the "shedding of blood of Muslims and of those living in their counties in peace". Abdul Aziz stated, "Given the dangerous developments in the Muslim world, I would like to warn against the danger of attacking Muslims and those (non-Muslims) under Muslim protection".

“In view of the fast-moving dangerous developments in the Islamic world, it is very distressing to see the tendencies of permitting or underestimating the shedding of blood of Muslims and those under protection in their countries. The sectarian or ignorant utterances made by some of these people would benefit none other than the greedy, vindictive and envious people. Hence, we would like to draw attention to the seriousness of the attacks on Muslims or those who live under their protection or under a pact with them,” Sheikh Al-AsShaikh said, quoting a number of verses from the Qur'an and Hadith.[12]

In late August 2014, he condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Qaeda saying, "Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilisation, are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims".[13]

On September 25, 2015, one day after the Mina crowd crush disaster which (according to the Associated Press) killed at least 1,399 foreign Muslims performing Hajj, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh publicly told Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who is also the country's Minister of Interior and responsible for Mecca safety and security, that he was "not responsible for what happened", and "as for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable." With his words, the Grand Mufti immunized Muhammad bin Nayef from possible public criticism within Saudi Arabia, which set the official death toll for the Mina tragedy at fewer than 800 deaths.[14]

In January 2016, while answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ queries on everyday religious matters, ruled that chess was forbidden in Islam because it constituted gambling, was a waste of time and money and a cause of hatred and enmity between the players.[15][16]


  1. ^ Schmitt, Eric; Shanker, Thom (2008-03-18). "U.S. adapts cold-war idea to fight terrorists". New York Times. Saudi Arabia 's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Asheik, gave a speech last October warning Saudis not to join unauthorized jihadist activities, a statement directed mainly at those considering going to Iraq to fight the American-led forces. 
  2. ^ Eur (22 November 2002). The Middle East and North Africa 2003. Taylor & Francis. p. 950. ISBN 978-1-85743-132-2. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "«Hässliche, unglückliche Äußerungen»: Erdogan fordert Entschuldigung des Papstes", Netzeitung, 17 September 2006 (German)
  4. ^ Jerome Taylor (24 Sep 2011). "Mecca for the rich: Islam's holiest site 'turning into Vegas'. Historic and culturally important landmarks are being destroyed to make way for luxury hotels and malls, reports Jerome Taylor". The Independent. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that "the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid". 
  5. ^ Mufti: Arabian Peninsula Churches Must Be Destroyed
  6. ^ Comment of the Fatwa in Arabic Al-Jazeera online, Arabic: انتقاد مفتي السعودية لفتواه بهدم الكنائس‎ (eng.: Criticism of the Mufti of Saudi Arabia for his fatwa to demolish churches); read on 27 March 2012
  7. ^ "Europe bishops slam Saudi fatwa against Persian Gulf churches". Reuters. March 24, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Diyanet'ten Suudi Müftüye Kilise Cevabı (Answer to the Saudi cleric from the Religious Affairs Directorate)". Religious News (Turkish), 7 April 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Huffington Post: "Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabian Mufti, Says Girls Ready For Marriage At 10 Years Old" By Simon McCormack April 24, 2012
  10. ^ Arabian Business News: "Saudi's Grand Mufti vents against horse statues" By Courtney Trenwith June 13, 2013
  11. ^ Saudi grand mufti says suicide bombers will go to hell
  12. ^ Saudi Grand Mufti condemns attacks on Non-Muslims
  13. ^ "Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti denounces Islamic State group as un-Islamic". Reuters. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "Saudi Mufti: Hajj stampede beyond human control". Al Jazeera. September 26, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  15. ^ Melvin, Don (21 January 2016). "Checkmate: Saudi grand mufti makes move against chess". CNN. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  16. ^ Kareem Shaheen (January 21, 2016). "Chess forbidden in Islam, rules Saudi mufti, but issue not black and white". The Guardian (Scott Trust Media). Retrieved February 10, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by