Court ulema under scrutiny

Usaama al-Azami writes in, ‘The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (FPPMS) was established in 2014 by the United Arab Emirates, ostensibly as an Islamic scholarly body that would help promote peace in a region destabilised by violence.  Its president is Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, a Saudi-based Mauritanian, and one of the most recognised Islamic scholars in both the region and the West. Aside from being promoted by Arab governments and media, he and his forum were praised by US President Barack Obama in a key anti-terror speech at the United Nations in 2014.   Fast forward to 2017. On 7 June, less than 48 hours after the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and the UAE led renewed efforts to internationally isolate Qatar, the FPPMS issued a strong-worded statement (see translation) against the Gulf emirate … The next most senior figure at the forum is its vice-president, US-based Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, who is Bin Bayyah’s most prominent student. Yusuf has been described by the The Guardian as “arguably the West’s most influential Islamic scholar.” Both these scholars political engagements have, of late, been controversial, and their conspicuous roles at the FPPMS have given its recent anti-Qatar statement religious authority . . . Religious figures like Bin Bayyah and Yusuf make for curious partners of the UAE’s hardnosed foreign policy elite. In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, the aforementioned Ambassador Al Otaiba remarked that Qatar’s opponents wish for a region dominated by “secular, stable, prosperous, empowered, strong governments”.click here.