A Tribute to a Muslim Genius


By Sujit Das [Originally Published on 12 November, 2006]

One of the mystifying capabilities of the human brain is embodied in the genius. A genius is an individual with astounding creative talents and distinguished mental abilities. They are able to generate new ideas. A new idea cannot be called creative unless it is quite hard to come by. It is a common mistaken idea that geniuses are born, not made. If we look at the lives of world’s greatest geniuses like, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Socrates, Einstein, Gutenberg, Ibn Baz, Edison, Newton and many others; we will soon realize that almost all of them have many common personality characteristics. Any common people can develop these characteristics and operate on a genius level.

As per Dr. Barrios (1980), geniuses have a strong desire to work hard and for long and continually accumulate information. Thomas Alva Edison said “Genius is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration“. Geniuses are highly motivated and do not bother about what common people will think if they are different. They have the courage to do something which others might consider impossible. These characteristics enable geniuses to come up with and develop new and fruitful ideas, which simpletons of their days cannot think of.

The common folks had seen many geniuses and have benefited from their extraordinary constructive talents from time to time. One such genius is Ibn Baz. He hailed from Saudi Arabia (the land of Prophet Muhammad) and his full name is “Shaikh Abd-al-Aziz Ibn Abd-Allah Ibn Baaz” (the name means – Servant of the almighty Allah, or, son of the servant of Allah). He is better known by the short name ‘Ibn Baz’ (though there are many uncanny similarities between Mr. Ibn Baz and Mr. Bin, these are coincidental only). From the very childhood days he was very fond of memorizing Koran and learning Islamic religious scriptures (Saudi Gazette, 1999). He believed that there could not be any knowledge beyond Koran and Ahadith; and hence it was unnecessary to learn anything else other than the religious scriptures of Islam.

At the age of sixteen, Ibn Baaz contracted a serious eye infection. His sight deteriorated and by the age of twenty he was completely blind. But, since he was a true genius, he never gave up. Despite of his blindness, he determinedly continued to study Islam under the direction of some of the most renowned Islamic thinkers of his day, such as the Sheikh Shanqeeti and many other Islamic scholars of different pedigree. An article published in ‘Saudi Gazette’ highlighted the educational background of this genius, as follows

The subjects he studied included Arabic language and Islamic science including the interpretation of Holy Qur’an, the Prophet’s (pbuh) Traditions, jurisprudence and Islamic history. As an Islamic visionary he fully understood the influence of history on the Ummah and worked hard to ensure that the evil influences which did affect people in the past did not repeat itself in the present age.” (Anon, 1999)

Shortly, his creative Muslim brain was completely Islamized and, hardly any Islamic scriptures were left for him to study. By this way he became a great scholar and highly respectable nobleman in Saudi Arabia. There were no science left in Koran and Ahadith which he did not pull out and learn. In infidel world there are many scholars who can be called a ‘walking encyclopedia’, but Ibn Baz soon became a ‘walking Koran & Ahadith’.

Throughout his life, this great Islamic genius was totally devoted to comprehend scientific miracles of Koran and had issued many fataawa (fataawa – plural of “fatwa”, means edicts) for the development of human civilization, starting from 1940 onwards (Wikipedia, 2006). A staff writer of ‘Arab News’ (a leading newspaper published from Saudi Arabia) reported on 15th May 1999 , “He has issued thousands of fatwas on various contemporary social and economic issues on the basis of the Qur’an and Sunnah”.

His first fatwa was ‘employment of non-Muslims in the Arabian Gulf forbidden by Islam.’ After few decades, this genius gave another fatwa ‘Non-Muslim troops should be deployed on Saudi Arabia soil to defend the Kingdom from the Iraqi army’ (Kepel, 2004). This fatwa seems to be just a reversal of the first one, but we have to understand that geniuses always think differently and they develop new creative ideas from time to time. It is not easy for a simpleton to understand the creative capacities of a genius.

He had authored many books to benefit mankind which are full of wisdom. His books are always best-sellers within Muslim world only. The most famous of his discovery is that which is stated in the book named, “Evidence that the Earth is Standing Still.” This scientific research work was published by Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia, during 1974. On page 23 of this academic research work he talked about his brilliant discovery and cited many references from Koran and Ahadith. He confidently challenged the age-old belief of earth’s rotation and quoted as follows,

If the earth is rotating as they claim, the countries, the mountains, the trees, the rivers, and the oceans will have no bottom and the people will see the eastern countries move to the west and the western countries move to the east.”

Parvez Hoodbhoy had mentioned the above valuable scientific conclusion of Ibn Baz, in his book “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality”. On page 49, he wrote,

“.. The Sheikh (Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz) authored … a book in Arabic entitled Jiryan Al-Shams Wa Al-Qammar Wa-Sukoon Al-Arz. This translates into Motion of the Sun and Moon, and Stationarity of the Earth… In an earlier book, he had threatened dissenters with the dire fatwa or takfir (disbelief), but did not repeat the threat in the newer version.” (Language and grammar unchanged)

The news of this great discovery of Ibn Baz spread like a wild fire throughout the world and soon many Muslims probably had accepted the credibility of ‘motionless geocentric earth theory’. However, the infidel world (including many western educated Muslims) was hesitant to accept his opinion. Judith Miller, wrote in his book ‘God has Ninety-Nine Names’, on page 114,

When he (Sheikh Bin Baz) had condemned what he termed the Copernican ‘heresy,’ insisting, as the Koran said, that the sun moved, Egyptian journalists, much to President Nasser’s delight, had mercilessly mocked the leading cleric as a reflection of Saudi primitiveness.”

So, the Egyptian journalists did not value his ‘freedom of speech’. It is a ‘crime’ to subdue the creative competence of a great genius like Ibn Baz at the beginning stage. It is a ‘stupidity’ to ridicule great geniuses like Ibn Baz.

Again, during 1993, the fertile Islamic brain of this Muslim genius again started working overtime. On one fine morning, the great genius opened his personal copy of Holy Koran, pulled out some scientific miracles from Allah’s Holy book and came out with a new discovery that ‘earth is flat’. This was recorded by Carl Sagan in his book “The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”. Sagan wrote,

In 1993, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdel-Aziz ibn Baaz, issued a edict, or fatwah, declaring that the world is flat. Anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished.” (Language and grammar unchanged)

and,

That is a well-known religious edict, or fatwa, issued two years ago by Sheik Abdel-Aziz ibn Baaz, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia. The blind theologian’s status gives his fatwas great weight, though his opinions have often raised eyebrows or embarrassed worldly Saudis…” (Language and grammar unchanged)

Soon the whole world (except the infidels and civilized Muslims) started accepting the new scientific discovery. As example; on 12th February, 1995, on page A-14 an article was published under the title “Muslim Edicts take on New Force”, where Yousef Mohammad Ibrahim wrote “The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment.” There are many verses in Koran as well as there are many Ahadith, which indicate that earth is flat (Sina, n.d).

But again, the great Islamic scholar Ibn Baz changed his mind as before. He denied that he had described the ‘Flat earth theory’ (Kepel, 2004), when his theory was gaining popularity amongst Muslims. There was no clue available why he suddenly abandoned his excellent scientific conclusion. Perhaps, this is one of the characteristics of a genius. However, he confirmed that his koranic belief about “the motionless state of the earth and sun revolves around the earth” is still intact even after so much ‘merciless’ mockery of Egyptian journalists (Kepel, 2004). Another Islamic scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi said “he (Ibn Baz) did not fear any criticism while expressing his Islamic viewpoints”, (Arab News, 1999). His strong determination proved that he was a true genius. Probably those ‘shameless’ journalists were not aware of his professional achievements.

This great scholar held the position of Grand Mufti of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Head of the Council of Ulema (Senior Scholars) – 1993 to 1999 CE. This position refers to the highest official of religious law in a Sunni Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwa, on interpretations of Islamic law both for assisting judges in deciding cases as well as for private clients.

Other remarkable achievements include (Saudi Gazette, 1999; Riyadh Daily, 1999; Arab News, 1999),

  • Vice President, and later President of the Islamic University in Medina, 1960 CE to 1970 CE
  • Chairman of the government department of Scientific Research and Ifta (guidance) with the rank of Minister. 1974 H to 1993 H.
  • President of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa.
  • Judge of Kharj For 14 years ,
  • Honorable teacher amongst faculty of Shariah [Islamic Law] of Riyadh Institute of Science from 1951 CE to 1960 CE.
  • In 1981 CE, he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.

In addition to his intensive activities, he used to attain seminars and deliver lectures in different Islamic universities till his death (Riyadh Daily, 1999). His favourite topic was – the importance of adherence to Sunnah (the Prophet’s teachings). Today, most of  the prominent judges and religious scholars, University lecturers, scientists and top government officials of Saudi Arabia are his students which also includes the Education Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Though his success story was quite impressive, he never received any award from outside Saudi Arabia. The infidel world did not pay serious attention to his discoveries, though there was much curiosity about this Muslim genius and many newspapers of western world published his ‘flat, rigid, geocentric earth and rotation of sun’ fataawa. Ibn Baz died during 1999. The Mullahs allover the Islamic world must have used local mosques’ loud speaker to inform Allah about the mighty arrival of Ibn Baz to paradise. It is hoped that Ibn Baz did not have to wait much to get a rightful place in Islamic heaven.

This is the misfortune with many great geniuses. Often geniuses are misunderstood at the beginning. Sometimes they are laughed at and ridiculed or thought to be crazy. The fact is that, geniuses are so advanced that the society of their day rejects their ideas. It is the future generation, who confirm their status of genius. As example, when Galileo challenged the existing cosmic map and geocentric earth theory, he was ordered imprisoned which was later commuted to house arrest by the Catholic Church (During 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled), when Sir Isaac Newton was inspired to formulate his theory of universal gravitation by the fall of an apple from a tree, he was ridiculed. There were cartoons which suggested that the apple actually hit Newton’s head, and that impact and pain in fact sensitized him of the force of gravity (no pain, no gain!). Similarly, when Ibn Baz condemned the ‘heliocentric Copernican system’, the Egyptian journalists targated him mercilessly with mockery. Another great philosophical genius was Socrates who was accused of corrupting the youth and interfering with the religion of the state and sentenced to death. At least Ibn Baz did not have to die to defend his scientific discovery. Darwin’s evolution theory was also not accepted at the beginning by the academicians. Einstein’s research paper on general relativity was not liked and thought to be wrong by most of the members of Royal Astronomical Society of England. Similarly, the ‘Motionless earth, Flat earth and Sun revolve around the earth’ discoveries of Muslim genius Ibn Baz are not taken seriously yet. It is just a matter of time.

That day is not far away, when the great discoveries of this Islamic scholar will be recognized by the whole world. With the further advancement of science and technology, in the future, the infidels will agree that the earth is really motionless and flat, and the sun revolves around the earth. This will prove that the scientific miracles of Koran and Ahadith are not laughable matter at all and on that day Islam will take over and rule the flat and motionless earth from one edge to another and the leftover Infidels will be thrown ‘overboard’ from the edge of the flat earth for not believing in Koran. Muslims will offer their five time obligatory prayer on the flat and motionless earth and the sun will circle around Makkah ‘round the clock’ by Allah’s divine instruction.

The death of this genius was a great loss not only to Saudi Arabia, but also for the whole Muslim world. When this great scholar died, the loss of “his erudition and reputation for intransigence” was so great the Saudi government was said to have “found itself staring into a vacuum” unable to find a figure able to “fill bin Baaz’s shoes.” (Kepel, 2004).  ‘Arab News’ reported (1999) that more than fifty thousand people came forward to carry his body to his burial ground at Makkah, while millions of Muslims performed funeral prayers. King Fahd said that the Islamic world was shoked hearing the sad news (Arab News, 1999). The news of his death was so unbearable that many Muslims must had been wallowing on the ground as if they were orphaned. Many of them must have been soaking their long beards with endless teardrops.

The death of Ibn Baz is a great loss to the mankind as a whole. In fact the whole world is still “staring into a vacuum” because a genius like Ibn Baz is very rare to find out. He was an original genius of too high standard. There is not another genius in ten million like him. It is difficult to replace him.

Life is an ocean of grief and sorrow. Modern fast lifestyle, work pressure, unhealthy competition, jealousy, political unrest (intentionally, I did not mention the Islamic terrorism, because in this article I am glorifying a Muslim genius and it is a wrong place to talk about Islamic terrorism) are increasing day by day and no way leveling off. Everywhere, there are lifeless, sad, and long faces to see. It looks like, slowly people are forgeting to smile. This is the time when the whole world looks forward for the geniuses like Ibn Baz. However, it is not late yet. The present Islamic scholars should try to fill up the “vacuum” as early as possible and start digging up new scientific miracles from the Holy Koran and Holy Ahadith and put up the new findings in the form of many fataawa for the whole world to see. There are enough scientific miracles in Holy Koran and Holy Ahadith which can amuse the infidels for next several decades, if not centuries. This is the only way Muslim scholars can make a positive contribution to the mankind by bringing back the long lost smile on others face.

Reference list

  • Anonimous, (1999), Staunch Defender of Islam, An article published in Saudi Gazette on 14 May 1999.
  • Arab News, (1999), pp. 1, 2; 15 May 1999
  • Barrious A (1980), 24 Qualities That Geniuses Have in Common; National Enquirer/Transworld Features. URL:http://www.hightechbiz.com/pub/genius.htm
  • Kepel G., (2004); The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West,. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp.184, 186
  • Riyadh Daily Staff Reporter (1999), Sheikh Bin Baz: A life devoted to Islam, Riyadh Daily (Daily newspaper published from Saudi Arabia) dated, 14 May 1999.
  • Saudi Gazette staff reporter (1999); Biography of Sheikh Bin Baz, Saudi Gazette (Daily newspaper published from Saudi Arabia) dated, 14 May 1999
  • Sina A., (n.d); Absurdities of Hadith and Muslim’s Denial,Faith Freedom International. URL:http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/denialhadith.htm

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