Praise of Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah (b. 1935) By Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī (b. 1926) (May Allah preserve them both)
Indeed it is from God’s blessings upon a person that they be acquainted with great people—those who have their scholarly importance, their religious importance, and their intellectual (fikrī), spiritual (sulūkī), and reformist (islāhī) importance. This is a blessing that deserves gratitude, and I believe that among the favours of God (Most High) upon me, and from His beneficence towards me, is that I know one of the unique scholars the like of whom time is rarely generous [in bringing forward].
Indeed he is none other than the supremely erudite (al-‘allāma) Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah, whose renown in knowledge and eminence has reached the horizons, and whom [people] far and near have come to know. I have known him for many years in the context of conferences and councils in which he participated with his knowledge, ideas, and efforts.
The reality is that the more I have come closer to him and got to know him better, the more I have loved him and [the more] he has risen in my estimation. Rarely does a person combine both love and esteem for an individual: there are people whom one esteems and respects but does not love, and there are those whom one loves and has a strong emotional [attachment] to, but one does not esteem them and respect them.
As for those for whom one combines [both] love and esteem, they are few [in number], and among these few is the Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah, who God has given numerous excellent qualities. He combines [religious] conservatism and liberalism: he is a conservative individual, but he is not closed; and he is an individual who facilitates, but he is not lax. He is a Mālikī: he has memorized the fiqh of the Mālikīs, their texts (mutūn), their commentaries (shurūh), their supercommentaries (hawāshī), and their various poetic codifications of disciplines (manzūmāt), but he is also supremely erudite in fiqh in general, and comparative fiqh. He is Salafī in creed, but he is also a Sūfī, with spiritual inclinations, without monasticism, just as our Shaykh Abū al-Hasan al-Nadwī said that he adopts Sūfism on the basis that it is spirituality, and purification for the soul, and connection with God, Blessed and Exalted is He. Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah is [thus] between Salafism and Sūfism.
He also combines what people in our age call purity of origin (asāla), and being contemporary (mu‘āsara), for he is a man of authenticity, connected to the [Islamic intellectual] heritage, cognizant of it, well aware of its various treasures in fiqh, exegesis, hadīth, history, literature, and other [disciplines], but he is [at the same time] not distracted from the [present] time, for he lives the time, its problems, its various currents, unlike many of our scholars who live alone in the past, and do not know anything about the present, while Shaykh Ibn Bayyah knows the past, lives with the present, and peers into the future.
Perhaps it is his knowledge of the French language, on the one hand, and his assuming [positions] of great responsibility in his country—more than once he was a minister, and more than once he bore great responsibilities—perhaps all of this has made him open up to the age and look to it with an eye, and look to the [intellectual] heritage with the other eye. For this reason he has concerned himself with the aspects of Islam pertaining to reform and renewal, and the necessity of changing the umma to that which is more blessed and better, by means of changing its thoughts, changing its learning, changing its aspirations, or what the Qur’an has expressed as “souls”: “Indeed God does not change the condition of a people until they change their own souls” [13:11].
The reality is that the excellent qualities of Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah are [so] many [that] this place does not have the room for [their enunciation], and the [aforementioned comments] are simply passing thoughts by means of which I express the eminence of the Shaykh, and express my love for him; and [they are also] a prayer that God brings us together with him, for I believe he is one of the righteous (sālihūn), one of the doers of good, God willing, and I say, as Imam al-Shāfi‘ī has said:
I love the righteous, and I am not one of them;
Perhaps through them I will attain intercession.
And I dislike the one whose wares are sins
Even though I am equal to them in wares
I ask God, Glory be to Him and be He Exalted, to shower blessings upon the life of Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah, benefit the umma through him, benefit the religion, the religious, Islam, and the Muslims through him, and bless all his family and progeny, and that He raises us [in the Hereafter] together, with those [around] the Messenger of God, may God bless him and give him peace, with “Prophets, the veracious (siddīqīn), the martyrs, and the righteous (sālihīn), and how blessed they are as companions! [4:69]”
Translated from http://www.binbayyah.net/ by Usaama al-Azami for virtualmosque.com