Abdullah bin Bayyah will no longer address Canada conference following UAE complaints

Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah of the UAE Fatwa Council

One of North America’s largest annual Muslim conferences has announced that Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah will not be speaking after complaints about his ties to the United Arab Emirates.

Bin Bayyah was due to speak at the Toronto-based Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference on December 26-27, but organisers announced yesterday that this is no longer the case.

They said: “Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah will not be participating in this year’s conference. We pray that the first RIS virtual conference provides an uplifting experience, as far removed as possible form the trials of our times, to enter for a few brief days into a shared space of lofty ideals and inspiriting heights. May Allah protect the community of believers wherever they may be, and may He protect us from the trials and tribulations of this world.”

Around a week ago the official Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates denounced the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist organisation” and urged Muslims to steer clear of the group.

The statement came during an online meeting of the council led by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah and called on all Muslims to reject division and to refrain from affiliation or sympathy with groups that “work to divide the ranks and inflame discord and bloodshed.”

It reiterated that “it is not permissible to pledge allegiance to anyone other than the ruler,” and said the community should show “respect and commitment” to leaders.

A few months ago Bin Bayyah also supported the UAE-Israel peace deal that has widely been denounced as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Bin Bayyah is the President of the UAE-funded Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and his Arabic statement praised the “wisdom” of de facto UAE leader Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his “pursuit of a just and permanent peace in the Middle East region, and expressed the wish that this initiative would pave the way to peace and the promotion of stability in the region and the world.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Bin Bayyah is the teacher of U.S. Muslim theologian Shaykh Hamza Yusuf who has been heavily criticised by Muslims for giving credibility to the United Arab Emirates through his associations with the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.

Hamza Yusuf is still slated to appear at RIS along with other prominent Muslim speakers and cultural figures.

Last week a prominent American Muslim imam announced his withdrawal from the conference in protest against the UAE.

Imam Khalid Latif, the first Muslim chaplain at New York University,  said he would not be taking part in the annual conference due to the participation of Bin Bayyah.

“Over the last few years, there have been a lot of dangerous positions from UAE-based councils that have named individual Muslim leaders and organisations like ISNA, Islamic Relief, and CAIR as being linked to terrorism,” Latif said in a Facebook post.

“The most recent fatwa that Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s UAE Council issued deeming the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation simply adds to an already problematic geopolitical agenda.

“That agenda seemingly has no qualms in assisting in the development of iniquitous policy in countries throughout the world that will disrupt the lives of so many people and justify the oppression of that many more all in the pursuit of power retention,” he added.

Commenting on the RIS announcement, American Muslim imam Shaykh Suhaib Webb said: “Kudos to Imam Khalid for taking a principled position and refusing to participate in any event which is going to showcase people who are being propped up by the UAE. God bless him.

“We need principled leadership. If you have seen the position of the UAE on Austrian Muslims and French Muslims it is absolutely unacceptable… unfortunately those positions were that they should just deal with these new laws that are being passed, that they should just step back and forgo some of their religious rights. Added to this is the position of the UAE an normalising relationships with the Occupier of Palestine, the support of the UAE for Sisi during the coup in Egypt and to undermine Muslims’ presence in America and Canada.”

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