Hayʾat Kibār al-ʿUlamāʾ

Muhammad Al-Atawneh, Sabina Abdulaev

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


The Hayʾat Kibār al-ʿUlamāʾ (“Board of Senior ʿUlamāʾ,” BSU), founded in 1971 by King Fayṣal b.ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Suʿūd (r. 1964–75), is the highest authority on issues classified as religious in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its legal status, composition, and functions were stipulated by royal decree in 1971. Accordingly, its members must be selected from amongst the Saudi senior Islamic religious scholars(ʿulamāʾ), but, with certain provisos and the king’s approval, non-Saudi ʿulamāʾ can also be included. The king is entitled to appoint and dismiss them at will and reserves the right to preferential treatment for his queries. Despite the fact that the founding decree named seventeen ʿulamāʾ as members of the first Board, neither this number nor the length of the members’ term of office was fixed. It seems, however, that this position was granted for a three-year term, with the option of an extension granted by royal decree. In the early 2020s, the Hayʾat Kibār al-ʿUlamāʾ consisted of twenty-two members, including the chairman, all male. Its administration (General Secretariat, al-Amāna al-ʿĀmma li-Hayʾat Kibār al-ʿUlamāʾ) is directed by a secretary general (amīn ʿāmm).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopaedia of Islam
EditorsKate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Devin J. Stewart
Place of PublicationNew York
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2023


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