Rabee' Ibn Haadee 'Umayr al-Madkhalee (ربيع بن هادي عمير المدخلي) is a former head of the Sunnah Studies Department at the Islamic University of Madinah. He is a Salafist Muslim scholar.
Education and career
Existing biographies note that Rabee Al-Madkhali began seeking knowledge in his village from local scholars like Ahmad bin Muhammad Jabir Al-Madkhali and Muhammad bin Jabir Al-Madkhali after he turned eight years old. His most notable teacher before his study at the 'Ma’had al-’Ilmi' in Saamitah was Nasir Khlufah Mubaraki (one of Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Qar’awi’s most senior students). After completing several classical Islamic texts with him, he started his education at the Ma’had al-’ilmi in Saamitah. The most notable of his teachers were: Hafidh ibn Ahmed Ali al-Hakami, Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Hakami, Ahmad bin Yahya Al-Najmi, Muhammad Aman Al-Jami' and Muhammad Saghir Al-Khamisi.
In 1961, he entered the Faculty of Sharia at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh for two months and then switched to the Faculty of Sharia at the Islamic University of Madinah, where his most notable teachers were: Former Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, Abdul-Muhsin Al-Abbad, Muhammad Amin Al-Shanqiti, Saleh Al-Iraqi and Abdul-Ghaffar Hasan Al-Hindi. He graduated four years later with excellence. After working at the University, he returned to complete his higher education. He received his Master’s degree after publishing his thesis, 'Between Muslim and Daruqutni' and achieved his doctorate with distinction with his dissertation. After completing his Doctorate at Umm al-Qura in 1980, Madkhali returned to the Islamic University of Madinah where he taught at the Faculty of Hadith and later became the head of the Department of Sunnah in the Department of Higher Studies. He held the chair until his retirement in the mid-1990s.
Having been an opponent of the House of Saud but then having turned strongly pro-establishment by the early 1990s, the Saudi government promoted al-Madkhali to lead a countermovement against growing criticisms of the Kingdom's socioeconomic ills, late deliveries of farm subsidies and normalization of ties with Israel. After the Gulf War had concluded, Madkhali distributed a booklet justifying the decision of the Saudi Arabian government to allow the presence of U.S. troops (who later withdrew) on Arabian soil and criticizing rival cleric Safar Al-Hawali for the latter's opposition to the government's decision.
Al-Madkhali has authored over 30 works in the field of Hadith and Islamic sciences, much of which has been compiled into a 15 volume set In 1984, the book which brought him fame in the Saudi religious field, 'Manhaj Al-Anbiyah Fi Da’wah Ila Allah' (The Methodology of the Prophets in Calling to Allah), caused controversy over Al-Madkhali's criticisms of the Muslim Brotherhood and their methods in Muslim missionary work. According to Lacroix, Al-Madkhali insisted that priority must be given to correcting Islamic creed amongst the people, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood's initial focus was on political reform. Some observers state that Al-Madkhali is most noted for his refutations of Islamic thinker Sayyid Qutb. Al-Madkhali received acclamations for his works refuting Sayyid Qutb from other Salafist scholars such as Saleh Al-Fawzan, Muqbil bin Hadi al-Wadi'i, and Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen. Of his four books on Sayyid Qutb, 'Adhwa Islamiyyah ala aqidat Sayyid Qutb wa fikrihi' is considered the most important. Apart from his controversial works in refutations, Al-Madkhali has authored several books in the field of hadith. His Master’s thesis, 'Between the two Imams: Muslim and Daruqutni' is recommended by some of Saudi Arabia's senior scholars for experienced students of Hadith.
In 2012, the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought named Al-Madkhali as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. However, opinions on Al-Madkhali vary between supporters and opponents. Contemporary hadith scholar Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani regarded Al-Madkhali to be knowledgeable in the field of hadith, particularly in Al-Jarh wa-l-Ta’dil. Al-Albani stated that, “the carrier of the flag of [knowledge] of Jarh wa Ta'deel today, in this present time, and rightfully so, is our brother Dr. Rabee’, and those who refute him do so without any knowledge." Supporters of Madkhali utilize this and other praises in an attempt to establish their view that he is supported by other major contemporary Islamic scholars. Roel Meijer notes that some analysts view Madkhali’s followers as having an obsession with his defense and continuously cite scholarly praise of him as a mechanism "for maintaining, defending and enhancing this authority", which is contested by Madkhali's detractors.
Political scientist Gilles Kepel has described Madkhali as being the perfect example of pro-regime "court scholars" in the Middle East, as opposed to more radical trends within the Salafist movement. In contrast to his early opposition to the Saudi Arabian government, Madkhali is now considered one of the Saudi royal family's staunchest defenders. While politically quietist within his own country, Madkhali has supported violent conflict in other areas, having called on Muslims both inside and outside Indonesia to participate in the Maluku sectarian conflict.
Madkhali's source of religious authority within the Salafist movement is unclear. He has not been involved with official religious bodies of the Saudi government, does not belong to the significant line of 20th-century Salafist scholars including Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz and Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, and has been described as below the level of contemporaries such as Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen or Saleh Al-Fawzan.