Ibn Baaz Allowed The American Military Into Saudi Arabia?

Itikāf is to seclude oneself in the Mosque for worship
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Seeking Help from Non-Muslim Nations in Battle

During the first Gulf War with Iraq from 2nd August 1990 till 28th February 1991[1], many radical Jihādists condemned the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for seeking help from the United States and the Western Alliance against the army of Saddām Hussain that invaded Kuwait and had threatened the Kingdom. Till this day, many radicals declare the rulership and scholars of Saudi Arabia to be apostates based upon the fatwā that allowed the American military onto Arabian soil.

A fatwā was issued by Shaikh Ibn Bāz (rahimahullaah) and the body of Major Scholars allowing the permissibility of seeking the aid of the US military. These types of affairs require rulings of the Major Scholars of Islām due to the great implications and ramifications of such verdicts which may involve the invasion of lands and the spilling of blood. The benefits and harms of such rulings cannot be comprehended except by those firmly grounded in Islamic jurisprudence, the knowledge of Prophetic Tradition, history and current affairs. The smaller students of knowledge, who do not have the years of experience or wisdom, let alone the immense knowledge that is required, are not capable of weighing up the affairs so as to bring about the correct ruling; and even less capable is the uneducated extremist whose actions and ideology is driven more by what he sees in the media and reads in the press than what is derived from the religious texts. The Messenger of Allāh (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) stated:

“The signs of the Final Hour are three: One of them is seeking knowledge from the small or lowly ones.”[2]

As for the issue itself of seeking assistance from non-Muslims in military campaigns then it is a matter of ijtihād (judicial opinion) in which the great scholars of the past differed based upon the textual proofs revealed in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. In volume 1, page 741 of at-Tahrīr wat-Tanwīr, the author, Ibn ʿĀshūr (died 1393H, rahimahullaah) explains:

“The believers took a group from the unbelievers as protectors in order to aid the Muslims against their enemy when there appeared from those unbelievers a love for the Muslims and their honour. The Scholars have differed regarding its ruling. Ibn al-Qāsim (rahimahullaah) stated in al-Mudawana, “The aid of the polytheists is not sought in battle due to what the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said to the unbeliever on the day of the battle of Badr, ‘Return back, for I do not seek the assistance of a polytheist.’” And it is narrated from Abul-Faraj and ʿAbdul-Malik bin Habīb that Mālik (died 179H, rahimahullaah) said, “There is no harm in seeking their assistance in a time of need.” Ibn ʿAbdul-Barr (rahimahullaah) said, “The narration of the Prophet , ‘I do not seek the assistance of a polytheist.’ Then its chain of narration is differed over. A group of scholars stated that it is abrogated.”[3] ʿIyād (rahimahullaah) said, “Some of our scholars held that [the forbiddance] was for a particular period of time, and they use as a proof the assistance in battle of Safwān bin Umayyah, who was not a Muslim at the time, alongside the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi sallam) at the battle of Hunayn and the battle of Tā’if. They utilize as a proof also, that when the Prophet  found out that Abū Sufyān had gathered an army [against the Muslims] on the day of Uhud, the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said to the Jews of the tribe of Nudhair, “Indeed we and you are people of scripture and there is between the people of scripture the aiding of each other. So either you fight alongside us or give us some weapons.” And upon this position we find Abū Hanīfah (died 150H, rahimahullaah), ash-Shāfiʿī (died 204H, rahimahullaah), al-Laith and al-Awzāʿī  (died 157H)…”

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalānī (died 852H, rahimahullaah) stated:

“Harmonisation between these two [narrations of the Prophet][4] can be done from various angles other than these [that have been mentioned]; from them is that he wanted to scrutinise the one to whom he said, ‘I do not seek the assistance of a polytheist’ desiring for him Islām, hoping that he would become Muslim, and his suspicion turned out to be true. Another angle is that the affair is up to the Ruler – and both of these opinions are given consideration.”

It is clear from this that some of the greatest Islamic scholars of jurisprudence regarded the seeking of military assistance to be an issue based upon prevailing events at any particular moment in time. It is reasonable on occasions to seek military assistance when there is a need and on other occasions the ruler may decide that there is no need or necessity. Imām an-Nawawī (died 676H) mentions the statement of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam), wherein he refused the aid of the polytheist at the battle of Badr in the second year after the migration yet he sought the aid of the polytheist Safwān bin Umayyah at the battle of Hunayn in the eighth year after the migration. Imām an-Nawawī goes on to explain that some of the scholars took the first narration as an absolute forbiddance; he then moves on to clarify that Imām Shāfiʿī (died 204H) and others allowed the seeking of military aid from the unbelievers who have a good opinion of the Muslims, and that there is a need that they have, and the non-Muslims have the ability to fulfil that need. In situations other than this it is disliked. He relates that this was the position of Imāms Mālik bin Anas (died 179H), ash-Shāfiʿī, Abū Hanīfah (died 150H) and the majority of the scholars.[5] Similar arguments are made by other eminent scholars such as al-Fayrozabādī in al-Muhadhab[6] wherein he states the permissibility in situations when the Muslims are in need of military assistance from the unbelievers, perceiving a benefit and not fearing harm from their presence.

Ibn Qudāmah (died 620H) states in al-Mughnī[7] that it is not permitted to seek the aid of a polytheist in accordance to the opinion of Ibn Mundhir, al-Jawzajānī and a group of other scholars; he then goes on to state that Imām Ahmad bin Hanbal (died 241H, rahimahullaah) allowed the seeking of military aid from non-Muslims; likewise the speech of al-Kharaqī indicates the same with the condition that  there is need for that and that they have good opinions towards the Muslims they are aiding. The respected reader is directed to read similar discussions from Ibn Taymiyyah (died 728H)[8], Amīr as-Sanʿānī (died 1182H)[9] who concludes that seeking their military aid is permissible, ash-Shawkānī (died 1250H)[10] who mentions an additional proof stating the concensus of the scholars upon the permissibility of accepting the military assistance of the hypocrites who are more severe in disbelief than the unbelievers[11] and Sidīq Hasan Khān[12] who concludes that it is permissible to seek military assistance from non-Muslims in cases of necessity.


The point of this discussion is to highlight that allowing the US Military into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aid the country in defending its borders from the armies of the Baʿthist Communist Saddām Hussain in 1990, is a ruling that contained evidences from the Prophetic Tradition and the rulings of the scholars throughout the ages. And even if some of the scholars of previous centuries did not conclude that seeking military aid from the unbelievers was permissible, they did not regard those eminent scholars who differed with them to be misguided deviants, heretics or unbelievers. In the readings of the Islamic texts and the statements of the scholars over the centuries, one can only agree with the position of the Shaikh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Bāz, Shaikh Muhammad b. Saalih al-ʿUthaimīn (rahimahumullaah) and others in their various fatawa permitting the foreign troops to enter and protect Saudi Arabia from Irāqī threats and attacks.* And this is more so the case when one considers that the Communist Ba’thist regime of Saddam Hussein were the aggressors against the Muslim population of Kuwait, and they further threatened the borders of Saudi Arabia and its population, even making military strikes against the townships within Saudi Arabia.

[1] The invasion of Kuwait by Irāqi troops, led by the Baʿthist communist Saddam Hussain that began 2 August 1990 was met with international condemnation, and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the UN Security Council. The US President, George H. W. Bush, deployed American forces to Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the Coalition of the Gulf War. The great majority of the military forces in the coalition were from the United States, with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial bombardment on 17th January 1991. This was followed by a ground assault on 23rd February. This was a decisive victory for the coalition forces who liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The coalition ceased their advance, and declared a cease-fire one hundred hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on the border of Saudi Arabia. However, Iraq launched missiles against coalition military targets in Saudi Arabia. (Ref: Wikipedia)

[2] Sahīh al-Jāmiʿ, no. 2207.

[3] Meaning that is was initially forbidden to seek their aid, and later it was allowed. The reason for this opinion is that the Messenger’s initial refusal of assistance took place at the battle of Badr in the year 2H, and his acceptance of assistance of aid from the polytheists took place at the battle of Hunain in the year 8H.

[4] Referring to the narration in which the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) refused the assistance of a polytheist at the battle of Badr and then years later accepted the assistance of the polytheists at the battle of Hunayn.

[5] Sharh Sahīh Muslim, vol. 12, p. 198.

[6] Vol. 3, p. 265.

[7] Vol. 10, p. 447.

[8] Al-Uddah fi Sharh al-ʿUmdah, vol. 1, p. 565.

[9] Subul as-Salām, vol. 1, p. 199.

[10] Nayl al-Awtār, vol. 1, p. 14.

[11] Nayl al-Awtār, vol. 8, p. 28.

[12] Ar-Rawdatun-Nadiyyah, vol. 2, p. 330.

* Taken from the book, “The Rise of Jihadist Extremism in the West.” Salafi Publications, Birmingham.


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