Ibn Baaz was born in the city of Riyadh during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, 1909 to a family with a reputation for their interest in Islam. His father died when he was only three, placing a big responsibility on his mother to raise him. When asked about his childhood, the sheikh said: “my father died when I was three years old, and I only had my mother who took care of me and educated me encouraging me to learn more about Sharia; she also died when I was twenty six.” By the time he was thirteen he had begun working, selling clothing with his brother in a market. Despite the fact that he helped a great deal in supporting his family, he still found time to study the Qur’an, Hadith, Fiqh, and Tafsir. In 1927, when he was sixteen, he started losing his eyesight after being afflicted with a serious infection in his eyes. By the time he was twenty, he had totally lost his sight and become blind.
He had assumed a number of posts and responsibilities such as:
The judge of Al Kharj district upon the recommendation of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Lateef ash-Shaikh from 1938 to 1951.
Held a teaching position in Riyadh at the Ma’had al-‘Ilmee in 1951.
In 1951 after spending fourteen years in al-Kharj as a judge, he was transferred to Riyadh where he became a teacher in the Riyadh Institute of Science and taught in the Faculty of Sharia from 1961 to.
In 1961 he was appointed Vice President, and later President, of the Islamic University of Madinah.
In 1970 he became the Chancellor of the University upon the death of Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal ash-Shaykh and he remained chancellor until 1975.
In 1975 a royal decree named him Chairman of the Department of Scientific Research and Ifta with the rank of Minister.
In 1992 he was appointed Grand Mufti of the Saudi Arabia and Head of the Council of Senior Scholars and was granted presidency of the administration for scientific research and legal rulings.
President of the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatawa.
President and member of the Constituent Assembly of the World Muslim League.
President of the Higher World League Council.
President of the Islaamic Fiqh Assembly based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Member of the Higher Council of the Islamic University of Medina.
Member of the Higher Committee for Islaamic Da’wah in Saudi Arabia.
Over the years, he held a large number of positions as president or member of various Islamic councils and committees, and chaired a number of conferences both within Saudi Arabia and overseas, in addition to writing a great number of books in different fields and issuing a large body of fatwa. In 1981 he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.
On Thursday morning, May 13, 1999, Ibn Baaz died at the age of 90 whilst prostrating in prayer. The next day, following Friday prayer, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, and hundreds of thousands of people performed the funeral prayer at the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
King Fahd issued a decree appointing Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh as the new Grand Mufti after Bin Baaz’s death.
Ibn Baaz had undertaken a number of charitable and other activities such as:
His endless support for Dawah organizations and Islamic centers in many parts of the world.
The establishment and supervision of schools for teaching the Qur’an.
The foundation of an organization that facilitates marriage for Muslim youth.
The popular radio program, Nurun AlaDarb (“light on the path”), in which he discussed many current issues and answered questions from listeners as well as providing fatwa if needed.
Ibn Baaz was considered by many to be prolific speaker both in public and privately at his masjid. Like his books, his lectures and sermons were numerous and revolved frequently around the situation of the Muslim world. In addition, much of his time was devoted to the lessons he gave after Fajr prayer, teaching during the day, meeting delegates from Muslim countries and sitting with people after Maghrib prayer to provide counseling and advice on personal matters. He also used to invite people after Isha prayer to share a meal with him.