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AJC presents Human Dignity Award to Muslim scholar

Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a religious jurist in the United Arab Emirates, has nurtured Muslim-Jewish peacebuilding.

Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah. Credit: U.N. Human Rights Council.
Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah. Credit: U.N. Human Rights Council.

The American Jewish Committee modeled its Human Dignity Award on a page from a medieval copy of a book by Maimonides. The organization describes the Jewish philosopher as a model who “bridged disciplines, languages and cultures, upheld reason and moderation, and abhorred religious extremism from any source.”

In that tradition, the AJC has now given the award to Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, who serves as president of the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace and as the top religious jurist in the United Arab Emirates.

“His counsel and wisdom are sought by religious and political leaders alike, and his courage has pushed the ties between the Jewish and Muslim worlds dramatically forward,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch.

Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC director of interreligious and intergroup relations, called bin Bayyah “a remarkable religious figure whose leadership has created a space for Jews, Christians and Muslims, along with people of other faiths and beliefs, to convene around common values and joint action for the common good.”

Bin Bayyah said through a translator: “It requires a people of reason and conscience across the world working together, particularly religious leaders, to counter hate speech and extremism.”

Bin Bayyah originates from Mauritania; there, he served as a judge on the country’s highest court before becoming Minister of Justice. He lectured at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia and has chaired the UAE Religious Law Council since its founding in 2017.

He is also noted for bringing together hundreds of Muslim scholars in 2016 from the drafting of the Marrakesh Declaration opposing persecution of religious minorities in Muslim states.

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