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Despair Not of

God’s Grace
A Message to People of Faith
By Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah
Translated by Hamza Yusuf

This is a talk that world renowned I n t h e N a m e of God, the


Merciful and Beneficent. Praise be
Islamic scholar Shaykh Abdallah bin

PHOTO: PETER SANDERS


to the Possessor of the heavens
Bayyah gave shortly after September 11, and the earth, the Living, the
2001 at a meeting in Rome in Sustaining, the Omnipotent, the
which many world religious Overpowering, the Merciful, and
the Gracious. With these Names
leaders participated.
and Attributes, He revolves day
and night, encompassing everything with His Knowledge and Mercy.
Benedictions and solace be upon our master Muhammad, the
prophet and final messenger of God, and upon his brothers, among
the many prophets and messengers before him.
My friends and brothers, I greet you and express heartfelt grati-
tude for your generous invitation during this particular time of pain
and sadness we all share for those innocent people of varying faiths
that were killed by an evil hand in New York and Washington. We par-
ticularly appreciate and highly value the position that the highest
Church authorities have taken during this crisis concerning attempts seasons
to use this tragedy as a Trojan Horse in order to attack the civilization
of Islam and to condemn Islam and Muslims, forgetting history as
well as the rights of ancient neighbors from both the Christian and
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Muslim civilizations.
We all share in our condemnation of this heinous act of terror that
no sacred tradition sanctions, especially the religion of Islam. Reason
itself rejects this act of madness. It is nihilistic to kill oneself and to kill
others unjustly; thus, two grave wrongs were perpetrated on that day
according to Islam. While there are still ambiguous aspects to this
affair, and the realities of what took place have not all been made
apparent, we make it clear to you, in no uncertain terms, that if the
accusations are in any way true, then the Muslim jurists are the first to
demand the most severe punishments for these acts.
The Islamic faith considers the murder of one soul on a par with 5
killing all of humanity: the Quran states, equity in this verse means “sharing with equi-
“Whoever kills one soul unjustly, it is as if he has table non-Muslims a portion of one’s wealth as a
killed all of humanity” (Maidah : 32). This is response to their good character and treatment of
because a solitary soul represents all of the Muslim.”
humanity in the beginning of creation and In the Quran, God says, “You will find the
in its re-creation as God says, “Your creation closest to the believing Muslims in love are
and your resurrection is as one soul” (Luqman : those who call themselves Christians. That is
28). because from among them are priests and
Furthermore, the sacred law of Islam monks, and they do not behave haughtily”
prohibits killing animals and cutting down (Maidah : 82). These are beautiful qualities
trees without right. Our Prophet, peace be that God has described the true Christians
upon him, mentioned a specific person who as possessing. The Quran says, “God
was punished in hell for torturing a cat by commands you to act justly” (Nahal: 90). Our
locking it up and starving it to death. The relationship with you is one of peace, virtue,
Prophet, peace be upon him, prohibited and justice. That is the position of Islam
killing ants, bees, and frogs. yesterday, today, and tomor-
THE PROPHET, PEACE
Tell me, how then could he row. It is a principled
permit the killing of a BE UPON HIM, position that has no rela-
human being, whom God PROHIBITED KILLING tionship to the shifting
has ennobled and dignified ANTS, BEES, AND balances of power.
over the rest of His creation? FROGS. HOW THEN
There is no denying that
“And verily, We have given the we bear the burdens of a
COULD HE PERMIT THE
children of Adam their human shared history of past trou-
dignity. We have carried them KILLING OF A HUMAN bles and the weight of
safely over land and sea and BEING, WHOM GOD HAS today’s problems, and if
provided them from the good ENNOBLED AND God does not receive us
things of the Earth” (Quran, DIGNIFIED OVER THE
with His Grace, we fear
Isra : 70). greatly the dark possibilities
REST OF HIS CREATION?
Islam is a message that of our future. Moreover,
enjoins spreading peace toward those one there are biased interpretations and views
knows and those one does not know as men- that some groups adopt in every faith and
tioned in the prophetic tradition. We are religion which may reach extremes. It is,
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here to extend to you goodness, virtue, and nonetheless, possible for us to invoke the
love based upon our own Quran’s injunc- relevant injunctions from our sacred scrip-
tion: “God has not prohibited you from displaying tures that are the closest to a global spirit of
all forms of goodness and equity toward those who cooperation and peace within the frame of
do not persecute you or drive you from your a culture of peace.
legitimate homes”(Mumtahinah : 8). The con- Our friends on the other side of the
ditions set down here are not biased or Mediterranean must also help us with one
unfair. The first relates to the freedom of concept only, and that is justice. Justice is a
religion and the second, the right to live in precious word to each of our faiths as well as
security in a person’s own land. There is an the rest of humanity in every time and place.
interesting point this verse highlights, and According to our faith, one of the Names
that is the idea of treating all human beings among the Names of God is The Just. We
with equity. Qadi Abu Bakr, a scholar from have a sacred tradition in which God speaks
6 Spain from the 12th Century, explains that to all of His creation saying, “O My servants, I
have prohibited for Myself oppression, and I have understanding that most approximates the
prohibited it for you also, so do not oppress one ideal of Absolute Justice, even if that might
another.” insult my justice or your justice. For if we do
We know that Infinite Justice is God’s that, we can indeed overcome these trials
alone. Therefore, we have to analyze three and deracinate terrorism, religiously
key understandings: my justice, your justice, inspired acts of insanity, and reactionary
and Absolute Justice. We need to discuss and extremism within our midst. We must
come to an understanding of the concepts expend our energies and enlist our scholars
that are shared and absolute between all of and sages in coming to a just solution to the
the revealed religions using the tools we question of Palestine so as to prevent the
have been given, including our intellects matter from being left to people who have
and human reason. Indeed, as Aristotle lost their sense of balance or who actually
says, “The intellect is the most equitably divided desire wars and conflicts. Indeed, peace is
trait among humans.” not only the best of what is good for the
The explanation of justice that is most weak but for the strong as well.
shared among us is simply In addition, we must not
this: an innocent person allow special interest groups
WE CAN INDEED
should not be taken to that benefit from wars and
account for the wrongs of a OVERCOME THESE TRIALS their consequences to
guilty person. This is a uni- AND DERACINATE declare a war of civilizations,
versal principle that none TERRORISM, RELIGIOUSLY especially between Islam
of us can debate. Indeed, it and Christianity. We prefer
INSPIRED ACTS OF
is an Abrahamic principle peace and conviviality to
INSANITY, AND
according to the Quran: vying for civilizational supe-
“Have they not been informed REACTIONARY riority. We must also make
of what was in the Scrolls of EXTREMISM WITHIN OUR serious efforts to come to a
Moses and Abraham who ful- MIDST precise definition of the con-
filled their covenants—that cepts and technical terms we
one soul does not bear the use, such as terrorism.
wrongs of another and that a human being has Unfortunately, a war over terminology can
only what he strives for?” lead to physical violence and actual warfare.
Another principle we all share is that a Frankly, many Muslims ask, “What do the seasons
man is innocent until he is proven guilty. super-powers mean by terrorism?” They want
We Muslims call this principle original inno- to know on what exactly is war being waged
cence because we regard a human being as before they board the ship setting sail to
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basically good unless he proves himself oth- wage war on it. In fact, they are afraid that if
erwise through vile actions as the Quran they get on the ship, the captain might sud-
states, “This is the inherent nature that God cre- denly, in mid-sea, turn and accuse them of
ated humanity upon” (Rum: 30). The Quran being terrorists! Is terrorism killing inno-
also warns us: “Verify any accusations so that cents, destroying property, and threatening
you are not oppressive toward a people out of people’s security? Or, is wearing a turban,
ignorance, and then have remorse for the harm building Quranic schools, reciting the
you caused” (Hujurat: 6). Quran, and teaching people Islam consid-
We must also work together to redress ered terrorism? Is legitimate defense of
the historical wrongs of the past and of the your homeland and the attempt to rightful-
present by attempting to find the shared ly take back what was wrongfully taken from 7
you considered terrorism by he who has blesses the earth, and it is said to the earth,
wronged you? These questions need to be “O earth, bring forth your provisions and
answered and should be before any of us fruits, and give again your blessings.” In
gets on board with the captain of the ship. those days, many will eat from one pome-
We should also proclaim this century a granate and rest in the shade of its shell
century of peace, development, religious (related by Muslim, part 18).
tolerance, and culture in order that humani-
ty may enjoy the gifts and blessings of this Another narration states,
earth which we share in the shade of our
“During Jesus’ reign, such security will
Creator’s dominion until humanity receives
exists that a camel will graze with the lion
our master Jesus, peace be upon him. We
and the beast of prey with cows and sheep.
wish to be living in peace and prosperity as
Children will play with snakes, and none
he descends from his heavenly abode in that
harm the other” (Musnad, 406:2).
wondrous and exalted state that was
described by our Prophet, upon him be Thus, peace is described in those days. So
peace, when he said about Jesus, let us ask ourselves this: Do we want to greet
such days in the shade of wars and conflict
He will descend from on high upon the
or of peace and love?
white minaret to the east of Damascus with
Finally, perhaps we should listen well and
his hands in the wings of two angels. If he
heed the advice of Prophet Jacob, peace be
lowers or raises his head, beads like pearls
upon him, when he said to his sons,
fall from him. Any disbeliever who receives
a whiff of his breath’s scent will die, and his “O my sons, go seek out Joseph, and do not
scent reaches to where his eye leaves off. despair of God’s Grace. For none but peo-
The Antichrist seeks him out, and Christ ple without gratitude despair of the Grace
kills him at the gate of Ludd. He then wipes of God.”
the brows of some of those whom the
Let us then never despair of the Mercy of
Antichrist had no effect upon, and he
our Lord.
informs them of their ranks in Paradise. He
then isolates himself with the believers until
Gog and Magog are removed. God then 
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