Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah was born in 1935 in the East of Mauritania. He is a scholar who grew up in a house known for its scholarship; his father Shaykh Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah was one of the region’s eminent scholars and the head of the Conference of Mauritanian Scholars established after the country’s independence.
He studied in the Mauritanian centres of learning known as Mahadhir in extensive Islamic sciences. Next he was sent to study law at the Faculty of Law in Tunisia and was trained in the Tunisian courts in 1961. Twelve judges were chosen and each of them presented a research paper in Juristic method and law and Abdullah Bin Bayyah was first in his group.
Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, in his youth, he was appointed to study legal judgements in Tunis, Tunisia and on returning to Mauritania, he became Minister of Education and later Minister of Justice. He was also appointed a Vice President of the first president of Mauritania.
Current Occupation: Jurist
Education: Expert Islamic Studies
Preferred Subject: Socio-Political issues, Fiqh
Notable Teachers: Shaykh Mahfoudh Ben Bayah
Shaykh Bin Bayyah is a specialist in all four Sunni schools but a Maliki Scholar. The Shaykh is uniquely respected by various sects and school within the faith, notably, the Saudi government have promulgated his fatwas as authoritative. In addition to this, he was an instructor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and was the deputy head of the Union of Muslim Scholars.
Shaykh Bin Bayyah is also on the board of The Islamic Fiqh Council. As well as the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research. The Shaykh was appointed chair of the recently formed UAE Fatwa Council. As well as this, he is known to work closely with the Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
In June 2013, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah visited the White House where he met with senior advisers and aides to President Obama. He called for the protection of the Syrian people and the Muslim minority in Myanmar. Also, he met with Bill Gates during the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi in April 2013.
He recently initiated the ‘Muslim Council of Elders’ which embraces leading scholars, and presided over a large gathering of religious scholars at a forum entitled ‘Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies’, which has now been established as an organization (based in the UAE).
The Shaykh is fluent in Arabic and French and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf serves as his English translator.
The Marrakesh Declaration
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah led around 250 Muslim religious leaders, in addition to approximately 50 non-Muslim religious leaders, in a three day summit in Marrakesh entitled: ‘The Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities: Legal Framework and a Call to Action’.
The summit used the original Charter of Medina, drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him himself, as a basis for addressing the current crisis of religious minorities in parts of the Muslim world. As a result, the summit concluded with the release of the 750-word Marrakesh Declaration.
Shaykh Bin Bayyah asserts that although Sufis strive to attain Ihsan, the highest level of faith in Islam, it is only attainable once one has mastered the first two levels of faith, Islam (the focus of jurists) and Iman (the focus of theologians).
Responsibilities and positions
- Director of the Global Center for Renewal & Guidance, UK
- Member of the European Research & Fatwa Council, Ireland
- Deputy President of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, Beirut
- Member of the Association of Indian Jurists, Delhi
- Member of the Lecturing Staff at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah
- President, Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies, Abu Dhabi
- Co-Moderator and Executive Committee Member of Religions for Peace, New York
- Member of The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan
- Member of the Counsel of Jurists attached to the Organisation of Islamic Conference, Jeddah
- Member of the Specialist Panel presiding over the Prince Naif ben Abdul Aziz prize for Prophetic Traditions and Islamic Studies
- Member of the Muslim League’s International High Council of Mosques, Mecca
- Member of the International Aid Organisation of Kuwait
- Member of the High Council in the Centre for Studying the Aims of Sharia, UK
Awards and Honors
- Awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal with the Rank of Distinction
- Awarded the Jordanian Medal First Degree
- Awarded the King Abdullah II of Jordan Prize for Scholars and Callers to God, Jordan
- The Degree of the Organisation of Islamic Conference with Distinction, and others
- Awarded the Chinguetti Prize for the Category of Islamic Studies for his book “A Dialogue from Afar”
- The “Ma’al Hijrah“ award from King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Malaysia for his efforts in spreading science, values of peace, tolerance, coexistence and positive influence in the world.
Books and Articles
- The Craft of the Fatwa and minority fiqh, 2005.
- A dialogue about human rights in Islam, 2003.
- Ideological opinions (فتاوى فكرية)
- Amaly al-Dalalat (Usul alfiqh), 2003.
- Terrorism: a Diagnosis and Solutions
- The Discourse of Security in Islam and the Culture of Tolerance and Harmony
- Fatwas and Reflections
- A clarification on the various legal opinions pertaining to financial transactions
- The Benefits of Endowments
- Evidence for those suffering from illnesses on the immense Divine award that awaits them
- Aims and their Proof
- Since 2009, Shaykh Bin Bayyah has been ranked as one of the most influential Muslims by The 500 Most Influential Muslims and currently holds the number 15 spot for 2020.