“Verily, you [O Muhammad] will die, and verily, they (too) will die.” [Soorah az-Zumar (39):30]
Praise be to Allaah, Who is the only One Whom we praise, even when adversity strikes. He determines the length of people’s lifetimes, and has decreed all things. Everything with Him is in due proportion, All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Most Great, the Most High. Whatsoever is on earth will perish, and the Face of our Lord, full of Majesty and Honour, will abide forever.
The honour of the scholars is great indeed. Their Lord has made them witnesses to the greatest of truths and has mentioned their testimony alongside His own and that of His angels. Allaah says:
“Allaah bears witness that Laa ilaaha illa huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. Laa ilaaha illa huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan (3):18]
Allaah has raised their status in this world and the next, as He says:
“… Allaah wll exalt in status those of you who believe and those who have been granted knowledge…” [Soorah al-Mujaadilah (58):11]
They are the heirs of the Prophets, who have assumed their role in conveying the Message and calling people to Islaam. They are the people of abundant good fortune, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
“The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets do not leave behind any dinars or dirhams (i.e., wealth), but they leave behind knowledge. Whoever receives this knowledge receives abundant good fortune.” [Reported by at-Tirmidhee, 2606]
Allaah wills good for the scholars, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He enables him to understand the religion properly.” [Reported by al-Bukhaaree, 69]
They are the people who understand the words of Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, as He says:
“And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge…” [Soorah al-‘Ankaboot (29):43]
They are the people who truly fear Allaah, as He tells us:
“… It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah…” [Soorah Faatir (35):28]
They are the most knowledgeable of people about evil and what leads to it, so they warn people of it. Allaah says:
“… Those who have been given the knowledge (about the Torment of Allaah for the disbelievers) will say: ‘Verily! Disgrace this Day and misery are upon the disbelievers.’” [Soorah an-Nahl (16):27]
“But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: ‘Woe to you! The Reward of Allaah (in the Hereafter) is bteer for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth).” [Soorah al-Qasas (28):80]
The salvation of people is connected to the presence of scholars; if the scholars are taken away then the people are doomed. ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn al-‘Aas said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) say, ‘Allaah does not take knowledge away by taking it away from people’s (hearts); He takes knowledge away by taking away the scholars (i.e., when scholars die), and when there is not one scholar left, the people will turn to ignorant leaders who, when they are consulted, will give fatwas without knowledge. They are misguided and they misguide others.’” [Reported by al-Bukhaaree, 98]
The phrase “by taking it [knowledge] away from people’s (hearts)” implies wiping it from their hearts. During his Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Learn before knowledge is taken away or lifted up.” A Bedouin said, “How will it be lifted up?” He said, “Knowledge disappears when its bearers disappear” three times.
The Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said,
“Allaah will not take away knowledge after it has been given to you.”
According to another report, he said,
“Knowledge will not be taken from the people” or “from the hearts of the people.” A Bedouin asked him, “O Prophet of Allaah, how will knowledge be taken up from among us when we have Masaahif (copies of the Qur’aan) among us and we have learned what is in the Qur’aan and have taught it to our children and womenfolk and servants?” The Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) looked up at him angrily and said, “These Jews and Christians have the scripture among them and they don’t adhere to a single letter of what their Prophets brought them!”
There are other corroborating reports that verify these additions to the hadeeth. It was reported that Abu al-Samah said:
“There will come a time when a man will fatten his mount in preparation for travel, and will travel through different countries asking for someone to give him knowledge of the Sunnah that he could follow, and he will not be able to find anyone to give him a fatwa except with uncertainty, and this has indeed happened.” [Adapted and summarized from Fath al-Baari]
‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez wrote to Abu Bakr Ibn Hazm to find out what was there of the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam). He wrote,
“Find out what there is and write it down, for I am worried that knowledge will disappear when the scholars pass away… spread knowledge and sit down to teach the one who does not know, for knowledge does not disappear unless it is kept secret.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, Baab Kayfa yuqbad al-‘ilm]
Imaam Ahmad (rahima-hullaah) said:
“People need knowledge more than they need food and drink, because they need food and drink two or three times a day, but they need knowledge all the time.” Thus the loss of scholars is a great calamity, “because the death of the entire tribe is less serious than the death of one scholar.” [Majma’ az-Zawaa’id, 1/201]
Today, Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 (May 13, 1999), Islaam and its people have been grieved by the death of the great scholar, father and capable teacher, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, and the end of a blessed life lasting eighty-nine years, one month and fifteen days, a life filled with obedience to Allaah and service to Islaam and the Muslims.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz, rahima-hullaah, was born in 1330 AH and grew up in a good family. He memorized the entire Qur’aan before the age of puberty and studied with the scholars in his homeland before travelling to seek knowledge in other countries. He lost his eyesight completely at the age of 19, because of illness. Allaah knows best, but I think that he is one of the people referred to in the hadeeth of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam):
“Allaah says, ‘If I take away a person’s two beloved (eyes), and he bears it with patience and the hope of reward, he will have no less a reward than Paradise.’” [Reported by at-Tirmidhee, 2325. He said, this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth]
He was as strong as he could be when it came to issues of Islaam. When one of the oppressive rulers said that there were myths in the Qur’aan, such as the People of the Cave and the staff of Moosa, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him explaining that this statement was tantamount to apostasy and unbelief. When the ruler’s secretary wrote to tell him that this is not what was intended, and that the man retracted what he had said, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him to tell him that if he was sincere, he should announce his repentance publicly just as he had announced his kufr openly. The Shaykh also denounced those who rejected the Sunnah, and the followers of falsehood and bid’ah, by refuting all their claims. He wrote warnings against observing innovated and unIslaamic celebrations, such as celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday, the anniversary of the Isra’, the middle of Sha’baan, and other innovations that were not commemorated by the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) or his Companions.
He was a true leader, the Imaam of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah and the Renewer (Mujaddid) of the Religion in this age. How many Sunnahs did Allaah revive through him, and how many bid’ahs were done away with! How many people were stirred up from their state of negligence and guided away from error! He was one of the leaders of the pious referred to in the aayah:
“ ‘… make us leaders for al-muttaqoon (the pious).’” [Soorah al-Furqaan (25):74]
He used to strive against evil, and how many evil things were done away with and how many bid’ahs put a stop to because of his efforts. He was known for this from an early age, rahima-hullaah. His own Shaykh, Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (rahima-hullaah) praised him for his critical approach and exposing the falsehood of Arab nationalism (Fataawa Ibn Ibraaheem, 13/148), and wrote in support of his denunciation of the bid’ah of collective takbeer (ibid., 3/127). He himself wrote to his shaykh explaining the dangers of magazines such as al-Musaawar, Rose el-Youssef and Aakhir Saa’ah, which were widespread at that time (ibid., 13/119). The things that he denounced and wrote against are innumerable, and one cannot count how many letters and messages he wrote calling upon the followers of falsehood to discuss matters and provide evidence. I think in this regard he was acting in accordance with the words of Allaah:
“Why do not the rabbis and the religious learned men forbid them from uttering sinful words and from eating illegal things. Evil indeed is that which they have been performing.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah (5):63]
He used to advise people and warn them against taking haraam employment and evil earnings.
He watched the signs of evil and issued warnings about them with no delay, such as satellite dishes and journeys abroad, and the harmful effects of music and movies on the youth of Islaam. He wrote about the dangers of wanton display, unveiling and free mixing, out of a sense of jealousy and honour for the sake of Allaah and concern for the honour of the believing women. This and other writings showed his awareness of the ummah’s issues and his concern for the people’s wellbeing.
He was an imaam and mujtahid who, with the knowledge, understanding and insight that Allaah bestowed on him, gave fatwas on matters of major import and difficult, thorny issues. He was also the head of the Islaamic Fiqh Council (Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islaami) which issues fatwas concerning serious contemporary matters. His fataawa on divorce are indicative of his depth of understanding and ability in making ijtihaad. His fatwas were based on compassion and understanding, and this was a great blessing to many people, male and female alike.
He was a mujaddid who combined knowledge of fiqh with knowledge of hadeeth. He knew about hadeeth and their degrees of soundness. He had memorized many volumes of ahaadeeth; he knew all about their narrators and the correct pronunciation of their names. Texts would be proofread and corrected with his help, even though he was blind. He was an ocean of knowledge, conversant with the opinions of different scholars and never at odds with any of them. One could hardly find any odd or strange fatwa from him. He took the middle path between two sides, those who focus on hadeeth and do not pay due attention to fiqh or the opinions of the scholars, and those who focus on fiqh and the opinions of the fuqaha’, and do not pay due attention to the hadeeth. He used to combine the advantages of both fields of knowledge, fiqh and hadeeth.
He was the leader whose opinion was decisive; all disputing parties would accept his opinion. Scholars might engage in a discussion in his presence, but when he spoke, that would be the end of the dispute – they would accept and follow his opinion. They gave him two votes where other members of the Fatwa Committee (Lajnat al-Fatwa) had only one.
With regard to the ordinary people, many of them would accept only Shaykh Ibn Baaz’s fatwa. If there were varying scholarly opinions on an issue. An ordinary man might say, “That is enough, give me a break! What does Ibn Baaz say?” One of the greatest blessings brought about through him is that the scholars and common people alike would accept him as a leader. This is a distinction which may not apply to anyone else in our time.
We are not claiming that the Shaykh was more knowledgeable than al-Shaafa’i or Ahmad or Ibn Taymiyah. Far from it! But his importance in our own time is no less than their importance in their own times; indeed, it may be greater, for the people’s need for him was greater, because of the paucity of scholars in this time as compared to earlier times.
He used to come down to the level of ordinary people to help them understand things; he did not address them in a highbrow manner. Very often he would speak to them in the colloquial so that they would understand him. He was like a mujaddid in the sphere of fatwas. His fatwas were based on making links between his ruling and the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and he might mention in his fatwas the opinions of some scholars. Many of the fatwas of scholars who came before him were distinguished by the fact that they were merely narrating comments from books of fiqh produced by the various madhhabs, but the fatwas of Ibn Baaz were based directly on the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
He loved to benefit people all the time, and he used to use every opportunity that arose to do this. For example, he would sit in the mosque and wait for the prayer, and sometimes he would listen to the person next to him reading Qur’aan. If he came to a difficult word, he would say to the reader, “Do you know what this word means?” then he would explain the meaning to him. I sat beside him a number of times in his house, and if he received a telephone call, when the conversation ended he would turn to me and say, “This person asked us such and such a question, and such and such was our answer.” If a question was particularly entertaining, he would tell us about it to put us at ease and be friendly.
He was extremely humble. One sign of his humility was that he would not often add comments of his own in his lessons; the words of the authors of the books were usually enough. It was as if this were a lesson for him, or a revision or reminder for his own benefit. His commentary on Fath al-Baari is very light – he only commented where he felt that it was absolutely necessary. He often used to mention his shaykhs and pray for mercy for them.
He used to write on his books, “By the one who is in need of the Mercy of his Lord, ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, may Allaah forgive him.”
Another sign of his humility was that he would get up and walk over to the women standing by his door, to try and help them by giving them money or answering their questions, etc. On one occasion, he interrupted a debate with some great scholars to answer a woman who was on the phone. When some of them passed a comment, he said, “She needs help.”
If he received an invitation from a janitor or guard in the Islaamic University, at the time when he was the Dean of the University, he would accept. Even though he was so busy, he would be very keen to accept invitations to wedding parties, because the Sunnah urges us to accept such invitations.
A further sign of his humility was that he would sit on the floor to eat, and would dress simply. He wore a loose, colourless thobe that came down no further than mid-calf, and an inexpensive cloak (abayah). His clothes, shoes and cane indicated that he was an ascetic with no interest in the luxuries of this world.
He would spend his salary and even borrow money to help people in need. Once a letter came from the Philippines to His Eminence the Shaykh, rahima-hullaah. It was a letter from a woman who said, “My husband was a Muslim. The Christians took him away and threw him into a well, and I have become a widow and my children orphans. I have no one apart from Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. I said to myself, who can I write to in this world, who can help me after Allaah? There is no one but Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, so I hope that you will help me.” The Shaykh, rahima-hullaah, wrote to the relevant authorities asking them to help her, and they replied that there was no clause that allowed for aid to a woman whose husband had been thrown into a well, and the financial resources were limited. So the Shaykh said to his scribe, “Write a letter for me to the trustee of the fund: ‘With greetings, deduct ten thousand riyals from my salary and send it to this woman.’”
He was very pious and trustworthy. He could be trusted with millions given in charity and zakaah by Muslims, which he would strive to dispense of in the appropriate ways. It is no exaggeration to say that what was spent through him was more than a thousand million.
He used to take care of his students. When he taught in al-Kharj, he asked for accommodation and stipends for them. He would hold classes and halaqahs for them after Fajr, after Zuhr, after ‘Asr and between Maghrib and ‘Isha’. Some of his students who used to read Tafseer Ibn Katheer to him between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ mentioned that often he would be so moved by what was read that he would weep, and sometimes he would weep for so long that the lesson was prolonged, without him realizing it. As soon as he realized, he would end the lesson and they would pray ‘Isha’. He would engage in discussion with his students, especially in matters of inheritance. He would check on their circumstances and try to help them, and he would go with them on trips outside the city. He never forgot to pay attention to their need for physical exercise, such as running and having races, as was related in the Sunnah, in the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah and Salamah ibn al-Akwa’.
When the town of al-Dalam was overwhelmed by floods in 1360 AH, he went out to encourage its people to build barriers. He brought dates and coffee from his own house to serve to the people at the places where they were working. When a swarm of locusts hit the town, the Shaykh went out with the people to kill the insects with palm leaves. He was keen on managing Awqaaf (endowment funds) and establishing schools. When he was appointed to the administration of the Islaamic University of Madeenah in 1381 AH and thereafter, he used to check on the classrooms and students. He took care of those who had come from other countries, providing them with books and teaching them Arabic. He used to borrow from the University’s funds – to be deducted from his salary – to help poor students. One day he found himself in debt to the University, owing 400 riyals from his next month’s salary, so he borrowed from some of the shaykhs to give money to poor people. When he was appointed as the head of the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas (Idarat al-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta) in 1395 AH, and left Madeenah for Riyaadh, he delivered a speech which moved his colleagues and students to tears.
There are very few people who can be appointed to positions of high rank without altering and becoming arrogant oppressors.
He was a skillful administrator who was appointed to the administration of the Islaamic University in Madeenah, the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas and the Organization of Major Scholars (Hay’at Kibaar al-‘Ulama’). He was a man who was well organized with regard to his time, work, lessons, food and meetings. He would pay due attention to all matters and all people.
He was behind many charitable projects such as building mosques and institutions for the memorization of Qur’aan, Islaamic centres and Sharee’ah institutes. One of his greatest achievements was his effort to establish departments for religious affairs in all government departments and offices, to organize lectures and channel questions and requests for fatwas. Because of this, so much good was done, the true extent of which is known only to Allaah. We ask Allaah to make his good deeds weigh heavily in the Balance because of this.
He had a remarkable ability to distinguish voices even when there were many people around. He could recognize a speaker even if he had not heard his voice for years. He would remember details about people and would ask them about their circumstances and the state of affairs in their homelands and among their relatives, even though they were so many.
He used to remember Allaah very often, even when eating and between mouthfuls. He often used to say “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah),” and he would send blessings on the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) very frequently. If someone spoke nonsense in his presence, he would tell him, “Sabbih, sabbih! (Glorify Allaah i.e., say Subhaan Allaah)”. He would often remain silent, deep in thought, and when he listened to someone, he would incline his head and listen intently. He had remarkable powers of discernment and could distinguish those who were telling the truth from those who were lying. He also made good choices when selecting people to do various jobs.
He would be very cautious when issuing fatwas. Often he would say things like, “We need to think about it” or “It needs some thought. I will write to the Committee for Issuing Fatwas so that we can discuss the matter with our brothers.” He told me this many times throughout twenty years when I asked him hundreds of questions. When holding a lesson in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah which was filled with people, he would never feel too shy to say, “The matter is not clear in my mind.”
He was filled with fear of Allaah; he would weep readily and be strongly moved, so much so that he would stop a lesson when he was overcome with emotion. Allaah says:
“… It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah…” [Soorah Faatir (35):28]
He used to weep when discussing the story of Ka’b ibn Maalik, and the slander against ‘Aa’ishah (al-ifk), and the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) of the Ansaar, and the Bedouin whose riding-beast broke his neck, so although he had done little, he was given a great reward.
He used to worship Allaah continually and strive to obey his Lord. One of those who accompanied him from al-Taa’if to Riyaadh overland said: when it was the middle of the night, about 2 a.m., the Shaykh said to his companions, “It seems that we are tired. Let us break our journey and sleep.” So we stopped, and barely had our feet touched the ground but we fell asleep. The good ones amongst us prayed one rak’ah or three rak’ahs before sleeping. The Shaykh also started to pray, and when the people with him woke up before Fajr they saw him still praying.
I think – and Allaah knows best – that he was one of the three on whom Allaah will smile, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) mentioned in his hadeeth:
“A man who meets the enemy on the battlefield and faces them bravely until he is killed or he opens the way for his companions; people who are on a journey and have travelled for a good part of the night, until they long to touch the ground (i.e., stop and rest), so they stop, and one of them moves a short distance away from them and starts praying until he wakes them up at the time when they have to resume their journey; and a man who has a neighbour who disturbs him but he bears it patiently until they are separated either by death or by one of them moving away.” [Reported by Imaam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 20377; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3074][/quraan]
Allaah blessed him with acceptance throughout the world. One of those who are involved in da’wah said that he went on a trip to one of the nations in central Africa. “We met an elderly woman who asked, ‘Where are you from?’ We told her through the interpreter that we were from Saudi, and she said, ‘Convey my salaams to Shaykh Ibn Baaz.’” Some of the poor people from Nepal who came to look for work in Saudi asked some contractors about Shaykh Ibn Baaz.
He was a great teacher who paid attention to priorities when teaching people, in accordance with the saying that people should be taught about the minor issues before the major issues.
He would stop answering questions when it was time to respond to the muezzin. If he omitted or forget something, he would put it right. He never omitted to make dhikr after salaah, despite the fact that there were so many people around him asking questions and making requests. He would interrupt his conversation to recite the dhikr for leaving the mosque.
He was always fair to his two wives, and would pray Sunnat al-Maghrib in the house of the wife in whose house he was spending the night.
The number of times he interceded on behalf of others is uncountable. He paid the “zakaah” for his high standing, just as he paid the “zakaah” for his knowledge, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam),
[hadeeth]“Intercede, and you will be rewarded.”
He interceded for old and young and workers. How many students were accepted in universities, how many poor people were given charity and how many workers were able to bring their wives to the Kingdom because of his intercession.
He used to strive to reconcile between husbands and wives, and between any people who were engaged in a dispute.
He was very patient, tolerant and easy-going. One day when he was a qaadi (judge) in al-Dalam, a man came in swearing and insulted the Shaykh with obscene words, but the Shaykh kept quiet and did not respond. Then Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez travelled to go to Hajj, and that man died. When they brought him out for the funeral prayer, the imaam of the mosque refused to pray for him. He knew about the incident that had taken place, and said, “I will not pray for someone who insulted a scholar. You go ahead and pray for him.” When the Shaykh came back from Hajj and was told that the man had died and about what had happened, he prayed for mercy for him and rebuked the imaam. He asked them to take him to the man's grave, where he offered the prayer for him and made du’aa’ for him. A few days before he died, I said to him, “O Shaykh, I want to ask you to forgive me, because there must be some mistake I have made or shortcomings in my behaviour towards you, or I must have misunderstood something you have said, or conveyed something from you inaccurately.” He said, “I forgive, I forgive, may Allaah forgive you.”
He was very generous in giving. I have seen him give his abayah to someone who asked for it. He would never eat alone. He always had lots of guests and he would not eat unless there were others at his table with him. When he fell sick he said to us one time when the food was ready, “Please go ahead and eat, and excuse me.”
Allaah blessed him with a sharp mind, and he was not afflicted with senility. Even the slight forgetfulness that came to him with old age did not affect his ability to issue fatwas or to call evidence to mind and focus on things and understand them, even though he had entered his ninetieth year. A few days before he died, I asked him about a woman who had died before fulfilling her obligation to do sa’ee (running between al-Safa’ and al-Marwah as part of Hajj or ‘Umrah) – should her son do this on her behalf? He said, “You cannot do anything about death, it is inevitable. Her son can do sa’ee on her behalf, just as he can do Hajj on her behalf.” Then he added a qualifier: “But he has to be in a state of ritual ihraam when he does sa’ee on her behalf.” I said, “So he should enter ihraam for ‘umrah and do tawaaf and sa’ee, and before he cuts his hair he should do sa’ee on behalf of his mother?” He said, “Or before he does his own ‘umrah after he has entered ihraam.” This precision of thought stayed with him until the very end of his life.
He worked until his last breath, and his lessons continued until he fell sick. His lesson after Fajr on Thursday lasted for more than three hours.
He worked for fifty-eight years and never even took one holiday. He never slept for more than four or five hours in a day. He was entitled to retire with a full salary twenty years ago, but he continued to serve Islaam and to strive in support of the religion.
After he fell sick, whenever the pain got too much for him, once he recovered, he would say to the scribes and assistants around him, “Carry on and read to me what you have.” So they would read the letters, messages, issues of divorce and objectionable things, and pleas for intercession, etc., that would help the country and the people.
Last night, Wednesday night, he was sitting with his family and children until twelve o’clock, when he went to bed. At 2 a.m. his pain got worse, and his soul departed to meet its Maker at Fajr (dawn) on Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 AH, in the city of al-Taa’if, in the Western area of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Shaykh, rahima-hullaah, had started to suffer from pain and infection in the oesophagus when fasting last Ramadaan. He had been to the hospital numerous times, but he never moaned or complained. When the pain was very bad, it could only be seen from a change in his face, and all he would do was put his hand on his chest where it hurt. His death is a great calamity, and the people of Tawheed have been stricken with the painful and grievous news, but all we can do is to accept with patience the will and decree of Allaah, and say only that which pleases our Lord: Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon. Allaahumma ajurnaa fi museebatinaa wakhluf lanaa khayran minhaa (To Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allaah, recompense us for our affliction and replace it for us with something better).
He will be missed by elderly women, who will weep much for him. Many women fell ill when they heard the news. He will be missed by his neighbours, who would be woken for Fajr every day by the sound of his cane banging on their doors as he left to go and pray, to let them know it was time for prayer. He will be missed in the corners of the mosques, in the mihrabs and minbars. He will be missed by the land over which he walked to and from his prayers and lessons, but it will give testimony in his favour, in sha Allaah, when the earth will speak of all things, good and evil, that were done on it.
“That Day it [the earth] will declare its information (about all that happened on it of good or evil), because your Lord has inspired it.” [Soorah az-Zalzalah (99):4-5]
Two kinds of enemies of Allaah will rejoice at the news of his death: the hypocrites who want to remove Islaam from people’s lives, and the confused followers of bid’ah and desires.
He was a thorn in the sides of the munaafiqeen. His fatwas foiled their evil designs and by means of him Allaah warded off many evils. They were very irrated with him and hoped for his death, and some of them even used to say, “Women will be able to do such and such when the Shaykh dies, and we will have a break from his strict fatwas.” The Shaykh has died and they are still without hope. May Allaah never make them able to achieve what they want!
And now what…?
Our loss is great and our grief is overwhelming, but we may find consolation in the following:
- Firstly: the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam). ‘Aa’ishah said:“The Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) opened a door of his house or pulled back a curtain, and saw the people praying behind Abu Bakr. He gave thanks to Allaah because he saw that they were fine, hoping that Allaah would compensate them for their loss of him with something like what he could see. He said, ‘O people, when any one of the people or of the believers is stricken with a calamity, let him console himself with the thought that this calamity [i.e., the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam)] is greater than whatever he is going through. After my death, no member of my ummah will ever be stricken with a calamity greater than the loss of me.” [Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1588; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7879]
- Secondly: we know that Islaam does not depend on any one person. Allaah is Merciful and He will provide for this ummah someone who will guide it and lead it in the way of knowledge, justice and the legacy of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam).
- Thirdly: the students of the Shaykh, the scholars and seekers of knowledge whom he has left behind.
- Fourthly: his “immortal children”, i.e., his books, fatwas, theses and recorded lectures. The knowledge left behind by the scholar is his “immortal child”.
- Fifthly: the dreams that have been seen about him, which are a good sign about him and are one of the parts of Prophethood, as the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said. Just now I was told about a woman who dreamt, on the night that the Shaykh died, that she saw a light being taken from earth and raised up to heaven. When she woke on the morning, she heard that the Shaykh had died.
We should not forget our duties towards the Shaykh now, which are: to ask for Allaah’s mercy for him, to make du’aa’ for him, to disseminate his works, to spread news of his virtues and character, and to follow his methodology, which was derived from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
O Allaah, forgive ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, have mercy on him, make his grave wide and fill it with light. Raise his status among the guided and above many of Your creation on the Day of Judgement. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Worlds. Admit him to a place of honour on the Day of Resurrection. O Allaah, compensate the Muslims with good, for You are the All-Hearing Who answers prayers and You are Ever Near.