Moon Landings, Flat Earth and Rotation of the Earth. Shaykh Bin Baz
In 1966, when Ibn Baz was vice-president of the Islamic University of Medina, he wrote an article denouncing Riyadh University for teaching the "falsehood" that the earth rotates and orbits the sun.
Author Robert Lacey quotes a fatwa by bin Baz urging caution towards claims that the Americans had landed on the moon. "We must make careful checks whenever the kuffar [unbelievers] or faseqoon [immoral folk] tell us something: we cannot believe or disbelieve them until we get sufficient proof on which the Muslims can depend." Lacey states that "after extensive research" of bin Baz's fatawa, he (Lacey) had only been able to find this one fatwa on the subject, and no statement in it that the earth was flat. Lacey does however say that according to his source, Bin Baz gave an interview after publishing the article "in which he mused on how we operate day to day on the basis that the ground beneath us is flat ... and it led him to the belief that he was not afraid to voice and for which he became notorious."
Though satirized for his belief, "the sheikh was unrepentant. If Muslims chose to believe the world was round, that was their business, he said, and he would not quarrel with them religiously. But he was inclined to trust what he felt beneath his feet rather than the statements of scientists he did not know."
According to Lacey, bin Baz changed his mind about the earth's flatness after talking to Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud who had spent time in a space shuttle flight in 1985.
However, Malise Ruthven and others state that it is incorrect to report that Ibn Baz believed "the earth is flat" Professor Werner Ende, a German expert on ibn Baz's fatwas, states he has never asserted this. Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî calls those that attribute the flat earth view to ibn Baz "rumor mongers". He points out that ibn Baz issued a fatwa declaring that the Earth is round, and, indeed, in 1966 ibn Baz wrote "The quotation I cited [in his original article] from the speech of the great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) includes proof that the earth is round."
In his 1966 article, ibn Baz did claim that the sun orbited the earth, and that "the earth is fixed and stable, spread out by God for mankind and made a bed and cradle for them, fixed down by mountains lest it shake".As a result of the publication of his first article, ibn Baz was ridiculed by Egyptian journalists as an example of Saudi primitiveness, and King Faisal was reportedly so angered by the first article that he ordered the destruction of every unsold copy of the two papers that had published it. In 1982 Ibn Baz published a book, Al-adilla al-naqliyya wa al-ḥissiyya ʿala imkān al-ṣuʾūd ila al-kawākib wa ʾala jarayān al-shams wa al-qamar wa sukūn al-arḍ ("Treatise on the textual and rational proofs of the rotation of the sun and the motionlessness of the earth and the possibility of ascension to other planets"). In it, he republished the 1966 article, together with a second article on the same subject written later in 1966, and repeated his belief that the sun orbited the earth. In 1985, he changed his mind concerning the rotation of the earth (and, according to Lacey, ceased to assert its flatness), when Prince Sultan bin Salman returned home after a week aboard the space shuttle Discovery to tell him that he had seen the earth rotate.
In addition, there was controversy concerning the nature of the takfir (the act of declaring other Muslims to be kafir or unbelievers) which it was claimed Ibn Baz had pronounced. According to Malise Ruthven, he threatened all who did not accept his "pre-Copernican" views with a fatwa, declaring them infidels. Ibn Baz wrote a letter to a magazine in 1966 responding to similar accusations:
Ibn Baz's second article written in 1966 also responded to similar accusations: