Prominent Saudis: Sheikh Mohamed bin Saleh bin Othaimeen


Sheikh bin Othaimeen was born in Onaiza, Al Qaseem region in 1929 and passed away in January of 2001. Qaseem is north of the capital and one of the most conservative parts of Saudi Arabia. It is said that his grandfather had a vision of receiving a torch from Bin Taimia, a foremost Islamic scholar, and the vision was interpreted that he would have a son or grandson that would be a great Islamic scholar too. I would just like to note here that Bin Taimia came before Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulalwahab and so even then the latter was not in the equation.  

 Sheikh bin Othaimeen is, to the highest degree, a respected  Sunni Muslim scholar. So much so that whenever I am in a discussion about an issue with a fellow Saudi, many of them treat the Sheikh’s word on the topic almost the same as if it was the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH). Saudis and other Muslims reading this will take offence but it is nevertheless true. It is easy to understand why though because Bin Othaimeen was genuine. He didn’t care about money or fame, he truly was devoted to teaching and studying Islam. So much so that while his own family lived in a simple house built the traditional Saudi way out of mud, he hosted a school of students who came from all over the world and paid them stipends. All that was expected of them was to learn the shiekh’s version of Islam.

His overall influence on Saudi legislation and day to day lifestyle is immense, especially in the central, north and south regions. Although other sheikhs were coming to the same conclusions that he made or at least agreed with him, he was the foundation for an Islam that is based strongly on pre-Islamic regional customs and traditions. He was so popular that the kings of Saudi Arabia visited him at his home.


Another major trend that he helped set is the whole “the infidels are out to get us” ideology; a Western ambiguous “they” whose mission in life is to corrupt us and move us away from our Islamic lifestyle. I never could wrap my mind around this one because if I were a foreign government with interests in another country, I would rather have that country’s people living like monks or nomads and uninterested rather than aware and educated. That way the people won’t interfere with what the foreign governments are getting out of their fields. But to Sheikh Othaimeen our country’s resources were not as big an issue as the puritanical social and moral fabric of our society. Maintaining the status quo became a religious duty. Learning English was not to educate ourselves but to guard ourselves from the “they” infidels and to help us occasionally preach to the ignorant semi-Muslims and infidels.  

According to the Shiekh, anything that would look like an imitation of the West should be religiously prohibited, including clothing and general lifestyle choices. His ideology is the real reason why women are banned from driving. And his fatwas were among the first to use the gender mixing argument. Whether we like it or not his teachings still have a deadlock on our society. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that we remain stable for at least a decade while still being exposed to the world through all these new forms of media. Once society gets it through its head that there are no evil “they” out to get their religion, then they’ll be able to see the rest of the world with compassion and be open to taking their place within a more inclusive view of the world.


Filed under Fatwas, Prominent Saudis

30 responses to “Prominent Saudis: Sheikh Mohamed bin Saleh bin Othaimeen

  1. So HE’S the guy who’s responsible!

  2. Andrew

    Regrettable that what appears to have been a thirst as a young man for God became instead a tool to support the kleptocratic ulemaa.

    Remaining motionless as a society has poorly served us.

  3. M Dosari in Canada

    he was ONE of the guys responsible for the mess we are trying to clean up. I always blamed him and others who promoted fatwas and cassette recordings in the the 80’s and early 90’s filled with hate and extremism. Most are still alive and everyone in Saudi for some reason are ignoring the fact that they are resposible for misleading the youth!!

    they still hold them in high regard(!)

  4. Sarah

    The remaining problem is that Saudis still praise him sometimes like a prophet. When he died, I heard some people say things like:( what has been left for us?) (Good things will vanish with his death) and that is something serious to worry about; Those Shiook took the role of legislators in this country and forced their extreme views on a whole society.

    They had huge bias toward infidels, Jews and Christians. They had a problem with women. They had a problem with people wearing trousers. They somehow prevented the generations from a very important Islamic obligation which is thinking and made it exclusively and only for scholars (though I think they are imitators not thinkers or scholars). So if Ibn Othaimeen or Ibn Baz said women should not go to the mall without a male companion -witch Ibn Othainmeen said- it would be considered for some Saudis as the word of Mohammad peace be upon him and it would be applied.
    The thing is that in Islam, there is supposed to be no legislators’ except for God. There is supposed to be no classifications of the such they imposed. Moslems need to take their religion back. Religion is a personal thing between a person and Allah and those should not impose their extreme views on the whole society.

  5. Sarah

    I think Ibn Othaimeen and Ibn Baz would be doing a great job if they were assigned as the Sheiks of a village. The problem is that they were given more credit then what they deserve. Appointing them as scholars of the whole country did very wrong to our country and to other countries who are influenced by ours and considered from other Moslems as the ‘country of Islam’.
    It did give the Moslems the wrong version of Islam.

    May Allah Mercy us and mercy them.

  6. sirius

    Christianity certainly has similar problems with powerful religious leaders with extremist views–I am moving to Saudi very soon and find the comments and article fascinating and informative.

  7. Ameen

    He was a great man … may he rest in peace .

  8. jessejames

    Hi,living and studying in London, my take on Saudi comes from a few friends belonging to the Nejd heartlands and- one friend, from the Hijaz.

    Without doubt, the women were hostile to many of the scholars except one-a Saudi, raised in San Francisco and Riyad. Her tribe is Bani Taimin, the tribe, believe, to which Abdul al Wahhab arose from.

    Then there was two persons- one from the Bani Khalid and the other from Bani Rashid.

    These two were dismissive of the ‘heritage’ left by the scholars from Nedj.
    But since I love annthropology I thought ‘something is going on here…’

    Without being rude, is it not possible that tribal affiliations influence the reaction to the Scholars?

    You also mentioned ‘Islam’ there is largely a ‘product of pre-Islamic customs and traditions’. What were these ‘traditions & Customs?’

    Many of us know customs have always reflected fiqh ‘considerations’-nothing unusual here. If the ‘blocking of the means’ doctrine is hinted at, then this must be do to with the driving issue.

    Cars are modern. The doctrine is old; but it can not be said tradition or custom is relevant here. Maybe we have a point in regard to the fact that the doctrine has been extended to cover new contexts. If so, it means that the shari’a is applied in a way to take account of modern means for ‘encounters’.

    I’m new here. Hi!


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  10. Nazireh

    Thank you for this informative post. Very interesting blog.

  11. unlizzzzzted

    SaudiWoman’s blog… You can take this as a threat…Your went a bit too far to open a thread and let kuffar and Fusaaq come and mock a great scholar(Al Allamah Muhammad Salih Al Uthaymeen) who is held in high status in the united states of america and abroad…I recommend you remove this post or Wallahee bi laahi thumma talaahi…. you will suffer the same humiliation as “Saudi Jeans” did…. I will make sure the proper authorities recieve this information. Rahimahulaah Shaykh Uthaymeen…. ..Unlissted2009 Dead serious

  12. Unlissted

    Patience….. I’m still in the process of contacting some ministries in regards to YOUR blatant disrespect and mockery of a great islamic scholar.

  13. abdulmumin

    he is great man in the world

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  17. مها نور إلهي

    With all due respect to Ibn Othaimeen and Ibn Baz, when I need a “fatwa”, I refer to Sheikh Al-Shaarawi, Sheikh Mohammad al-Ghazali, and Shiekh Ali Al-Tintawi (May Allah bless their souls). They have more knowledge and a broader vision of the world. And when they make a fatwa, they tell you “why” and based on “what” and they refer to many sources.
    their death is the real loss for the Arab and Islamic world.


  18. Yara

    Bin Othaimeen was against “Westernization”? So if a Western person converted to Islam he would expect them to leave their traditions/culture behind and embrace Arab culture? Start wearing a thobe even 3omma? Ridiculous.

    • american salafi

      yeah go wear tight pants like the faggots do , I work in corp america and I am white and I do not dress like the non muslim. I dont want to look like a fool for one .

    • RZ

      No that is not correct. His fatwas were focused for his culture and country not the rest of the world. And he never insisted that the rest of the world follow it.

  19. american salafi

    this sheikh has been dead for many yrs , and you are still talking about him ?: So what if u dont agree with him , dont read his books or his lectures. its as simple as that. if u want to blame tyranical ideas , it started with the white man who raped the real americans out of their land. start there. Oh yeah I am a white american. American culture sucks , beer , drugs , faggots and nakedness , who the hell wants that ? you do ! the american suck ups.

  20. Just happened to pass by.

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  22. RZ

    I live here in U.S. I’ve met a few students of Shaikh Uthyameen and they don’t paint the same picture as yourself. In fact these students (Yasir Qadhi, Yasir Birjas, etc.) are highly popular with the Muslim youth and we all look up to them. And they have always praised Shaikh Uthyameen. I have read some of his books that have been translated in English and truly his books are full of wisdom and knowledge. I don’t know how anyone with a sincere heart cannot see that. Many of us Muslims here in U.S. are still in complete awe of him and his dedication and sincerity to knowledge and Islam.

    Even Yasir Qadhi has informed us that Shaikh Uthyameen had certain views which are a result of his own culture and has advised us not to use their fatwas dealing with cultural aspects as there is a huge difference in culture of Saudi Arabia and U.S. But to claim that he was just an outright extremist is completely bizaarre. And Yasir Qadhi has told us of few accounts in which Shaikh Uthyameen understood this very well.

    Anyway you are entitled to your opinion but I (and many more here in U.S.) have great respect and love for the shaykh and are honored that his very own students are our teachers. May Allah forgive him and grant him Jannat Firdaws.

  23. “He was the foundation for an Islam that is based strongly on pre-Islamic regional customs and traditions.”

    That is slander. Have you any proof for your allegation that his Islaam was based strongly on Jahiliyyah customs and traditions? If you don’t, then you should take back your words.

  24. VF

    “I never could wrap my mind around this one because if I were a foreign government with interests in another country, I would rather have that country’s people living like monks or nomads and uninterested rather than aware and educated.”

    You are either a complete simpleton or flagrantly deceptive. Alhamdulillah, it’s indeed testament to this great scholar of recent times that someone such as yourself couldn’t help but write positively for about 70 per cent of thus piece. There are people who supplicate for this shaykh when they talk about him, may Allah have mercy on him. I wonder if you will be afforded the same honour.

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