When the hall is crowded and attendance is high, you can’t miss the way to advocate of Islam and peace Sheikh bin Bayyah. You’ll find him wearing his chic white jalabiya and carrying his famous stick. You’ll know him by these crowds of disciples and admirers surrounded.
In Abu-Dhabi, the sheikh founded the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (FPPMS), which is a global foundation viewed with great international respect. The sheikh and the forum succeeded in imposing the peace discourse in Islam on several venues in the East and the West.
Sheikh bin Bayyah is one of the great scholars in the Islamic world and I was honoured to get to know him and his family in the past years. I was happy to meet him several times in Abu Dhabi and Nouakchott. Each time my admiration increases due to his balanced vision and vast knowledge.
The sheikh draws worldwide attention. His famous phrase, “We should declare war on war so the outcome will be peace upon peace” became quite known after President Barack Obama quoted it in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. This phrase is the essence of the intellectual project of Sheikh bin Bayyah. He is an advocate for security and peace. He unites and doesn’t alienate; illuminates and doesn’t instigate. According to the sheikh’s own description of his project, we should agree on being different.
The issue of Islamic unity is a very thorny issue. Political Islam movements, for many centuries, reduced it to the idea of caliphate and establishing a central state for all Muslims. It was said that any Muslim state that isn’t part of the caliphate project must be fought. This idea has led to the spilling of seas of blood throughout Islamic history and the caliphate banner, as a matter of fact, wasn’t anything except the banner of civil war within Islam. As a result, Muslims became enemies to each other.
Sheikh bin Bayyah issued a fatwa that the national state is an Islamically legitimated entity and not an un-Islamic innovation.
He cites the proof for this from the Muslim state in Abyssinia that was ruled by the King Negus, which wasn’t a part of the Islamic state in the Medina at the time. However, Muslim Arabs didn’t demand this kingdom’s inhabitants migrate, and the Muslim state in Abyssinia gained the respect of the Muslim state in the Arabian Peninsula. Nobody requested that the two states be merged in one state or within one caliphate.
Sheikh bin Bayyah says: “The caliphate banner which the extremists carry is a false banner and isn’t founded on the basis of sharia.”
“The caliphate state is a non-binding form of government and it isn’t permissible to delegitimise the national state.”
“The caliphate state is an illusion and killing people for its sake isn’t justified in Islam.”
That’s what I heard from the sheikh in Abu-Dhabi. In Nouakchott he added: “Some people yearn for Islamic unity while others view it with fear.”
Islam is founded upon the centrality of justice and charity. As the Prophet says, “Love is the basis of faith” and “Believers in their affection, mercy and compassion for each other are that of a body when any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”
“Unity doesn’t mean that all Muslims should be living within one political entity. The national state is an Islamically legitimated entity and Islam forbids fighting for the sake of establishing one entity…Islam has decreed that Muslims’ blood, money and honour are inviolable.”
Sheikh bin Bayyah is engaged in dismantling the new Kharijites’ claims.
He goes on to say: “Dividing the Islamic world into two houses, the House of Islam and the House of Unbelief, had its cultural context when Mongols were raiding Muslim lands and Muslim countries. Now, all this must be reconsidered in the light of political changes.”
“The Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwa concerning the inhabitants of Mardin, Turkey, issued 700 years ago, was distorted and became the base for the fatwas of jihad, loyalty and enmity. The distortion was made on printing the text. Before the distortion, the text was: ‘Any deviation from Islam should be treated for what it’s worth’ while after distortion it became: ‘Any deviation from Islam should be fought for what it’s worth.’ The word treated was deleted and the word fought was inserted instead.”
Sheikh bin Bayyah expressed his doubts about the contemporary Arab revolutions and criticised some of them saying: “The revolutions before us are destructive wars; severing family ties and disintegrating the ummah (nation).”
The sheikh called for the return of security and peace. He recalled a hadith that hasn’t been circulated in spite of being mentioned in Al-Bukhari: “It is part of the faith to establish peace in the world.”
According to Sheikh bin Bayyah, “the world is everything except Allah. Thus, the world is an all-inclusive term. Islam implies peace to the world; for human beings and the environment together.”
The intellectual project of the Mauritanian scholar needs to be profoundly studied. Confronting terrorism through security can’t be sustained without an intellectual confrontation. The intellectual confrontation also can’t be sustained without religious confrontation. It isn’t enough to say to the extremists, “You’re agents.” Their conceit should be destroyed completely. They should realise that they are ignorant. Science is the solution.
Stupidity is big crime against religion and earthly life. Science is the solution.