Prominent Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah was ahead of his time when he expressed his doubts about the repercussions of the contemporary Arab revolutions. That was years ago, and his words were decisive in expressing his concern about what was taking place and future possibilities. The Sheikh said: “The revolutions we are witnessing… are destructive wars, severing the wombs, and scattering the nation.” The Sheikh called for the return of security and peace and he brought to mind a saying by the Prophetthat was no longer being repeated despite its inclusion in Al-Bukhari’s collection, which is that part of faith is “giving peace to the world.” According to Sheikh Bin Bayyah: “The world is everything God created,” “and accordingly, the world includes all beings and creations,” “and Islam includes peace for the world... for man and the environment.”
A visit to Mauritania
On 8 February 2022, I visited Mauritania at the invitation of the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum, presided over by Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, to attend the African Peace Conference that was held in the capital Nouakchott under the generous patronage of His Excellency President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani.
The title of the conference was the text from the Prophet’s saying relayed by Imam Al-Bukhari, ‘Giving Peace to the World.’ And when I attended the speech of President Mohamed Bazoum, president of Niger, at the end of the conference, and heard him say, “peace is the image of Islam,” I realized that all the attendees follow the same approach and speak one language: Peace is the essence of Islam.
During my visit to Mauritania, I was pleased with the accompaniment of the Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments, Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, and the president's advisor for religious affairs, Dr. Osama Al-Azhari. There, I met a group of African scholars, dignitaries, and wise men.
Here is Nouakchott
The attendees in Mauritania approved the establishment of a headquarters for the African Peace Conference in Nouakchott. They also recommended the establishment of the ‘Africa Prize for Enhancing Peace’ and the creation of a committee for dialogue, reconciliation, and development.
These mechanisms are of great importance in dismantling the mounting frustration on the continent, and being launched from Arab and African institutions greatly helps in curbing foreign ambitions proliferating in every corner of the continent.
I remember my meeting with Mauritania’s president two years ago in Abu Dhabi while President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani was on an official visit to the UAE. The president's vision was that the main problem in the Sahel-Saharan countries is development, and that working on the axis of security without the axis of development will lead to nothing.
I told the president at that time: It is obvious the peoples of the region are angry, and the public is beginning to feel despair. The president's assessment was that the causes of anger lie in the collapse of the economy and the hardships of living. If security is essential to protect life, then food, clothing, and housing, as well as education and health, are life itself.
Then the president said: “We are a Sahel-Sahara country, but we are not part of the ongoing battles. However, the continued deterioration of the situation creates more pressure and tension in the region."
The Mauritanian president does not view the Libya events as a distant affair. He believes that instability in Libya extends to create great pressures in the south and west, and that this will multiply the causes of instability in the Sahel and Sahara region.
The assessment of President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani conforms with think tanks that believe that this fragile geopolitical region can continue to collapse if no control is enforced.
The president said: It is not only about terrorism, but also about organized crime, including drug, arms, and human trafficking. The president is trying to rebuild the Mauritanian vision for a better future for his country and the areas around it.
The president is not worried about security in his country. He has fought battles to eliminate terrorism before, and he knows very well how to protect what has been achieved. In his speech at the 2022 African Peace Conference, President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouaniadded the intellectual aspect to those of security and development in the triangle of combating terrorism.
Notable scholar Bin Bayyah: Peace as an ideology
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah delivered the opening speech of the African Peace Conference in Nouakchott. The speech was an extension of his solid project that combats hatred and terrorism and calls for security and peace.
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah is one of the great scholars of the 20th and 21st centuries. He was born in Mauritania. His father was a distinguished judge, head of the Mauritanian Scholars Conference, and a great fighter against colonialism.
Sheikh Bin Bayyah continued his father’s path in religion and politics. He held several ministerial portfolios and participated in many international institutions and authorities. Sheikh Bin Bayyah continues his precious giving through his presidency of the Iftaa Council in the UAE and through his fine, knowledgeable leadership of the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum.
The Sheikh has received international attention for many years, then the interest in the Sheikh’s intellect increased after US President Barack Obama cited in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly one of the sayings of the Mauritanian scholar. The sentence chosen by Obama became popular everywhere in the world. The Sheikh said: “We must declare war on war, so that the result will be peace upon peace."
Sheikh Bin Bayyah is widely respected in Islamic circles. Some describe him as the “renewer of the divine world.” Many praise his vision of tolerance and peace. As one of them put it: “He unites and does not divide. He enlightens and does not provoke.”
Ibn Taymiyyah and the Killing of Sadat
The Sheikh’s views on Sufism aroused anger among conservative circles. But he adopted the same path, saying: “Sufism is one of the Islamic sciences. Renewing Sufism and placing it in its true framework is a revival of religious sciences because the scholars have rooted it as they did withjurisprudence.”… “Ibn Taymiyyah was a reformer of Sufism, just as Ibn Al-Qayyim was a reformer in his book ‘Stations of the Seekers’.”
Other opinions by scholar Bin Bayyah stirred up jihadist circles, but he also went on to explain that: “The division of the Islamic world into two houses: the abode of faith and the abode of unbelief had its historical context where the Mongols were invading the lands and countries of the Muslims. Now this must be reconsidered in light of political changes.”
“The fatwa of Turkish Mardin 700 years ago, which was said by Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah, was distorted to become the basis for fatwas of jihad, loyalty, and disavowal. The misquotation resulted during the printing phase to become, “The Muslim is treated according to what they deserve, and he who doesnot follow Islam’s Sharia is fought against according to what he deserves.” Before the distortion, the text was, “he who doesnot follow Islam’s Sharia is treated according to what he deserves.” The word “treated” was changed to “fought against.”
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah wrote a book titled ‘Ibn Taymiyyah and the Killing of Sadat.’In this important book issued by the Cairo Center for Strategic Studies, the scholar tells the story of correcting “the most dangerous typo in history.”
The Nation State in Islam
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah launched his project for renewal with the most difficult and confusing issue: that of the “caliphate” and the “nation state” and the people that were killed in Muslim countries on the way to achieving the “caliphate.”
The Sheikh said: “The banner of the caliphate carried by extremists is a fictitious banner and is not based on legal foundations.” “The caliphate state is a non-binding form of government, and it is not permissible to delegitimize the nation state.” “During the era of the prophet, peace be upon him, there was another country headed by a Muslim king. He is the Negus who embraced Islam, and the prophet, peace be upon him, left him to his possession of Abyssinia, and he did not order him to emigrate or go with him.” “Our scholars have gone beyond that, and mentioned him in the funerals section. When God informed His Prophet divinely about the death of Negus, he rose and said ‘God is Great’ four times.”“The caliphate state is an illusion, and killing souls for its sake is not legitimately justified.”
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani, Mauritania, African Peace Conference
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