Saleh Al-Fawzan

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Saleh Al-Fawzan
صالح الفوزان (cropped).jpg
Born1935 (age 86–87)
Nationality Saudi Arabian
RegionArabian Peninsula
Main interest(s)Fiqh, Aqeedah
Alma materImam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University
Other namesSaleh Ibn Fawzan Ibn Abdullah
Saleh Ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan
Member of Council of Senior Scholars
Member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas
Senior posting

Saleh Al-Fawzan (Arabic: صالح بن فوزان الفوزان; born 1933)[1] is an Islamic scholar and has been a member of several high religious bodies in Saudi Arabia.[1][2][3] He is considered to be the most senior scholar of Islam in Saudi Arabia.[4]

His surname is also transliterated Al-Fozan or Al-Fawzaan. He is also known as Saleh Ibn Fawzan Ibn Abdullah, Saleh Ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan,[5] Saalih Ibn Fowzaan Ibn 'Abdullaah Ibn Fowzaan.[1]


According to his official biography at, Fawzan is from the family of Fawzan from the people/tribe of ash-Shamaasiyyah.[1] His father reportedly died when he was young, and he was subsequently brought up by his extended family. He learned the Quran, the basics of reading and writing from the Imam of his hometown mosque.[1]


Fawzan studied in the state school in ash-Qamariyah when it opened 1948.[1] In 1950 he completed his studies at the Faysaliyyah school in Buraydah and subsequently was appointed a teacher at the school.[1] Fawzan joined the Educational Institute in Buraydah when it opened in 1952, and graduated from it in 1956.[1] He was a student at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, where he initially studied at the faculty of Sharia, graduating in 1960, before earning a master's and doctorate in Fiqh.[1]


According to, after the completion of his doctorate, he became a teacher at the faculty of Shari'ah at the Imam Muhammad educational institute in Riyadh before being transferred to the Department for Higher Studies within the Faculty of the Principles of the Religion (usool ad-deen). He was later the head of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court of Justice, where he was appointed the head. He then returned to teaching there after his period of headship came to an end.[1]

As of 2013, he was a member of the Council of Senior Scholars,[2] Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, which advises the king on religious matters.[6] He is also currently a member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas,[7] a committee of the Council of Senior Scholars. The Council issues rulings in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and prepares research papers for the Council of Senior Scholars.[8] He is one of the major scholars on the Nur Ala al-Darb radio program, which has been described as "one of the oldest and most famous programs broadcast on the Quran radio channel, where a number of major scholars answer questions and give fatwas."[4]

Controversial statements[edit]

Al-Fawzan's views on slavery—given in lectures recorded on cassette—came to light and caused some controversy in 2003. In the tape he was quoted as saying, "Slavery is a part of Islam (in war context) ... Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam." As for the modernist interpretation that Islam totally abolished slavery, he dismissed its exponents saying, "They are ignorant, not scholars. ... Whoever says such things is an infidel."[3][9]

In March 2014, Al-Fawzan denied that he issued a fatwa banning 'all you can eat' open-buffets, claiming he only said that open-buffets should identify the quantity so that people don't end up buying the "unknown". "It is attributed to me that I prohibited the buffet and this is an apparent lie motivated by fantasy and fabrication," Al-Fawzan said in the statement posted on his website. "The fact is that I was asked about a phenomenon in some restaurants where owners tell their customers: eat what you like from the displayed food and pay a lump sum. I said: This is unknown and the unknown cannot be sold until it is defined and identified," the statement added.[10]

Saleh al-Fawzan was given attention in Western media again in May 2016 after he declared taking photos prohibited in a video published by the Middle East Media Research Institute on April 17, 2016. According to The Independent, "Speaking in a televised broadcast, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fawzan was asked about "a new trend of taking pictures with cats" which "has been spreading among people who want to be like the Westerners". The sheikh initially appears incredulous, asking: "What?! What do you mean pictures with cats?" He then declares: "Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don't matter here." When asked again about the "new trend", he says: "Explain this trend to me. Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity - not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything."[11][12][13][14]

Feminism activist Hala Al-Dosari (fellow of Radcliff Institute at Harvard) and Abdullah Alaoudh (senior fellow of Georgetown University and son of Salman al-Awdah) claim Saleh al-Fawzan is treated like a father figure by Mohammed Bin Salman. A month before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, al-Fawzan proclaimed a threatening fatwa calling for killing of critics of the Saudi government.[15][16]

Human Rights Watch has attributed hate speech by Saleh al-Fawzan towards Shia and rafida when he called these groups "brothers of Satan" and specifically about a faction of Shia followers as "unbelievers" who "lie about God, his prophet, and the consensus of Muslim".[17] Hala Al-Dosari also claims that al-Fawzan considers Islamic minority sects to be heretics.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Scholars Biographies. Shaykh Dr. Saalih Ibn Fowzaan Ibn 'Abdullaah Ibn Fowzaan". Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Council of Senior Ulema reconstituted". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Author of Saudi Curriculums Advocates Slavery". SIA News. Archived from the original on April 18, 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b The Muslim 500: The World's 500 Most Influential Muslims, 2020. The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. 2019. p. 117. ISBN 9789957635442.
  5. ^ "SHEIKH SALEH IBN FAWZAN AL-FAWZAN" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Saudi Arabia: The Coming Storm" By Peter W. Wilson p. 26-27
  7. ^ The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa Archived 2014-02-14 at the Wayback Machine Fatwa
  8. ^ Carnegie Endowment: "Saudi Fatwa Restrictions and the State-Clerical Relationship" by Christopher Boucek October 27, 2010
  9. ^ "Taming a Neo-Qutubite Fanatic Part 1" (PDF). salafi publications, p. 24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014. Questioner: ... one of the contemporary writers is of the view that this religion, at its inception, was compelled to accept the institution of slavery ... [but] ... that the intent of the Legislator [i.e. God] is to gradually end this institution of slavery. So what is your view on this?
    Shaikh Salih alFawzaan: These are words of falsehood (baatil) ... despite that many of the writers and thinkers -- and we do not say scholars -- repeat these words. Rather we say that they are thinkers (mufakkireen), just as they call them. And it is unfortunate, that they also call them `Du'at' (callers). ... These words are falsehood ... This is deviation and a false accusation against Islaam. And if it had not been for the excuse of ignorance [because] we excuse them on account of (their) ignorance so we do not say that they are Unbelievers because they are ignorant and are blind followers .... Otherwise, these statements are very dangerous and if a person said them deliberately he would become apostate and leave Islaam. ..."
    [Source of Q&A: Cassette Recording dated 4/8/1416 and subsequently verified by the Shaikh himself with a few minor alterations to the wording.]
  10. ^ "Saudi cleric claims he didn't issue fatwa against 'all you can eat' buffets". 18 March 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  11. ^ "Senior Saudi Cleric Saleh Al-Fawzan: Taking Pictures with (or without) Cats Is Forbidden". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  12. ^ Brulliard, Karin. "Saudi cleric: You may not take photos with cats — or anything else". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Senior Saudi cleric bans people from taking selfies with cats". The Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Saudi cleric says people need to quit taking selfies with their cats". The Week. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Saudi scholar Alaoudh: 'MBS is not Saudi Arabia'". June 28, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019. 7:38 minute mark of video: MBS told him literally, he is like his father. // 7:50 minute mark: Saleh al-Fawzan is the head of the religious power in Saudi Arabia. So that alliance is still effective and if you want to know who Saleh al-Fawzan is, look at his fatwas. Saleh al-Fawzan is the one who gave the fatwa, like one month before the killing of Khashoggi, not just allow the state to kill dissidents; but urging the state to cull dissidents
  16. ^ a b Al-Dosari, Hala (April 22, 2019). "Saudi Arabia's intolerance weakens its Islamic leadership". Retrieved July 17, 2019. Revered by the crown prince as a father figure, Shaikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, called for the killing of the state’s critics just one month before Khashoggi was killed.
  17. ^ Maida, Adam (September 26, 2017). ""They Are Not our Brothers":Hate Speech by Saudi Officials". Retrieved July 17, 2019.

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