Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: Islam, Not Nazism was the Mufti's Motivation: Part 2

Hajj Amin el-Husseini's animating ideology was Islam, not Nazism.
Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 10:21 PM


Part 2

Just before his concluding admonition for a jihad to annihilate the Jewish community of historical Palestine, Hajj Amin el-Husseini recapitulates the dominant thematic narrative, woven together from a myriad of specific, canonical Islamic motifs, throughout the 1937 proclamation:

"[T]he Arabs have learned best how they really are, that is, as they [the Jews] are described in the Koran and in the sacred scriptures… The verses from the Koran and hadith prove to you that the Jews have been the bitterest enemies of Islam and continue to try to destroy it."

El-Husseini’s own apt summary assessment of the proclamation raises basic, important questions for those, in particular, who expound the view that his Islam was a form of modern “ideological chimerism,” spatchcocked from “fundamentalist elements” of the Muslim creed, engrafted, fiendishly, to Nazism.

What did attentive, full tallies, comparing the numbers of Islamic and non-Islamic motifs cited by El-Husseini, demonstrate?  Specifically, regarding the latter, what examples (if any), derived from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, or the writings of Nazi racial theorists were presented? Did invocations of the Czarist Russian era forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, accompany, or complement these references to Nazi ideology? Was there any evidence that central themes from European Christian anti-Semitism were invoked, to confirm Paul Berman’s fulmination about how “Nazified Islam” strove to demonstrate “that European and Christian superstitions ought to be regarded as authentically Middle Eastern and Islamic”?

What in fact could be readily gleaned from a careful, objective reading of el-Husseini’s proclamation was there were no concrete, substantive references to any of these major non-Islamic sources of ant-Ssemitism. This absence of references contrasted starkly with the numerous and specific anti-Semitic motifs from Islam’s canonical texts—the Koran (consistent with its gloss in authoritative Koranic commentaries), hadith, and sira—which el-Husseini’s declaration invoked continuously, from opening to closing.

A simple enumeration conveyed el-Husseini’s extensive use of references from Islam’s canonical texts: ten explicit references to Koranic motifs (including eleven separate verses quoted directly in the proclamation), with an additional six implicit references; two explicit citations of the sira, and five implicit references; and two major, explicit citations (with quotation) of hadith, accompanied by three additional implicit references to the hadith literature. These citations are complemented by an explicit reference to the great early Muslim scholar al-Tabari (d. 923), and his monumental History.  

Moshe Perlmann, an eminent scholar of Islam’s Medieval era anti-Jewish polemical literature, made this rueful summary observation in 1964:

"The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material."

The numerous salient examples of Islam’s canonical Jew-hatred punctuating Hajj Amin el-Husseini’s 1937 declaration validated Perlmann’s concise overarching assessment of these foundational Islamic sources, and their tragic application across space and time, into the modern era.


El-Husseini’s promulgation of jihad and canonical Islamic Jew-hatred in pursuit of the destruction of Palestinian Jewry, and later, the nascent Jewish State of Israel, has reverberated across the ensuing decades.
El-Husseini’s promulgation of jihad and canonical Islamic Jew-hatred in pursuit of the destruction of Palestinian Jewry, and later, the nascent Jewish State of Israel, has reverberated across the ensuing decades.

Consider two complementary fatwas, one written January 5, 1956, by then grand mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and another January 9, 1956, signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar University—Sunni Islam’s Vatican—and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence.

These rulings elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine—modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza—having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory”—booty or spoils—to be governed eternally by Islamic law.

"Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory. [As] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants. . . . Jihad . . . to restore the country to its people . . . is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim… Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates."

Although free of  eschatological references, the January 1956 Al Azhar fatwas’ language and arguments—pronounced from Sunni Islam’s most esteemed religious teaching institution—are otherwise indistinguishable from those employed just over three decades later by Hamas (in its 1988 covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew-hatred.

Recent polling data indicate that these traditionalist Islamic views—espoused across a continuum of 75 years by el-Husseini, Al Azhar University, and Hamas—resonate with the Palestinian Muslim population.

American pollster Stanley Greenberg performed what was described as an “intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” As reported in July, 2011 these data revealed that seventy-three percent of Palestinian Muslims agreed with the dictates of the apocalyptic hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985; included in both el-Husseini’s 1937 declaration, and the 1988 Hamas Covenant) calling for the annihilation of the Jews, to bring on the messianic age.

Eighty percent  supported the destruction of Israel by jihad,  and the need to recruit the entire global Muslim community, or “umma” in this quintessential Islamic cause.

Almost four decades ago Bat Ye’or published a remarkably insightful analysis of contemporary Islamic Jew-hatred, in particular, its annihilationist predilection. She hypothesized that the rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude.

The pejorative characteristics of Jews as they are described in Muslim religious texts are applied to modern Jews. Anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism are equivalent—due to the inferior status of Jews in Islam, and because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.

Here the Pan-Arab and anti-Western theses that consider Israel as an advanced instrument of the West in the Islamic world, come to reinforce religious anti-Judaism.

Bat Ye’or’s 1974 observations have now been confirmed by the first thorough textual analysis of the exclusively Islamic sources utilized in a critically important 1937 pronouncement by Hajj Amin el-Husseini. One can only speculate as to why such an investigation was not conducted decades earlier.