Teaching of Sharia knowledge prevailed most regions in Saudi Arabia before opening up government-run schools and Sharia institutes. Teaching was conducted at mosques and houses of ulmea (scholars), who taught a lot of judges. His eminence Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh – May Allah show mercy to him - and his brothers played a major role in disseminating knowledge of Sharia in Riyadh and the neighboring areas.
With the start of the overall Sharia knowledge rise in 1370 H (1949 G) and thanks to the youth’s eagerness to learn Sharia knowledge, the administration-led King Abdulaziz - May Allah show mercy to him - opened up Riyadh Sharia Institute. The by-then king assigned Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, the by-then mufti of Saudi Arabia, to run the institute. It was the first cornerstone of Sharia institutes in various regions of the kingdom.
In 1951, college of Sharia was open in Riyadh, and in 1952, the college of Arabic language was also open. Then, a series of Sharia institutes was open under the umbrella of the General Presidency of Sharia Colleges and Institutes.
On September 10th 1974, a royal decree No. 50/m - based upon the cabinet resolution No. 1100 on September 4th 1974 - was issued to approve of the policy of Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University. As such it is deemed a higher academic institution, comprising the higher institutes, colleges, and Sharia institutes in Saudi Arabia.
Since the university was established, it has been enlarging continually. It comprises 11 colleges, five of which are in Riyadh and six are out of Riyadh in regions of Al-Qassim, Al-Ehsa, and Medina, in addition to the southern region. Also, it comprises two institutes in Riyadh: one for Jurisdiction and one for teaching Arabic language for non-Arabic native speakers. It comprises six institutes abroad for teaching Islamic, Arab knowledge in Ras Al-Khaima, UAE, Mauritania, Djibouti, Indonesia, USA, and Japan, in addition to sixty Sharia institutes kingdom-wide.
Thanks to the grand expansion of the university, the second five-year plan was approved of to establish a university city. The project site was selected to be north of Riyadh city. Late King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, laid down the foundation stone of the project on January 5th, 1982 G. The university has been carrying it out.
The following phases have already been executed:
The first phase: Student housing area.
The second phase: the first part of academic area.
The third phase: first part of services.
The fourth phase: the medical center and the sport area.
The fifth phase: the first part of faculty member housing area.
Everything was shifted to the University City in the beginning of Academic year 1411 H (1990 G). The shift affected positively and largely the academic process on campus. The jump brought up qualitative and quantitative results on campus, institutes, supporting deanships, and other units.