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Hajj Amin al Husseini, (Haj Amin el Husseini) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (Hussayni)    Definition

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Hajj (Muhamed Effendi) Amin al Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem - (also Hussayni or Hajj Amin el Husseini) - (1895-1974) -- A radical pro-Nazi Palestinian and Muslim leader, scion of the influential Husseini family of Jerusalem. In WW I,  he fought for the Ottoman Turks as did many Jewish and Arab Palestinians but eventually changed sides.

With Aref el-Aref, Husseini was largely responsible for riots started in 1920 ("Nebi musa") . Husseini was jailed, but subsequently released and elected Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in an election rigged by Sir Herbert Samuel, the British High Commissioner, who thought to co-opt his radicalism.  Because of his position and family connections, the Mufti had access to about 200,000 pounds annually, much of which was used to finance terror campaigns as well as to advance his own position.

Haj Amin El Husseini - Palestinian leader and former Grand Mufti, reviewing Nazi Troops.
Palestinian leader, Former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al Husseini, shown reviewing Nazi troops on the cover of the Vienna Illustrated (Wiener Illustrierte) magazine.

The "Grand Mufti" title was invented by the British. The Mufti used that title and several others, such as "eminence." The sheikh-and president of his former university, Al-Azbar in Cairo, noted:

In Islam, there are no "eminencies" and no "grand" muftis. Before Allah all men are equal, and it ill behooves a religious teacher to assume such redundant titles... A mufti is a teacher in Islam. And even to that title Hajj Amin should have no claim, for he has not finished a single course of studies here at the University. He owes his appointment to political influence and family connections. He is a politician.

Husseini's early attitude regarding Zionism was expressed as follows to a Jew named Abbady, a native of Palestine, who worked with him at one time:

Remember, Abbady, this was and will remain an Arab land. We do not mind you natives of the country, but those alien invaders, the Zionists, will be massacred to the last man. We want no progress, no prosperity. Nothing but the sword will decide the fate of this country.

He told an interviewer, Ladislas Farago:

The Jews have changed the life of Palestine in such a way that it must inevitably lead to the destruction of our race. We are not accustomed to this haste and speed, and therefore we are continually being driven into the background.

(Both quotes from http://notendur.centrum.is/~snorrigb/mufti1.htm )

The British made Husseini head of the Supreme Muslim Council and gave him considerable resources. The head of the council was supposed to be elected every 5 years, but Husseini seized control and terrified others. He controlled the allowance of the council from the mandatory government, Muslim charity money and donations from abroad. He used these resources to buy patronage influence. As Mufti, Husseini initiated renovations of the Al-Aqsa and Omar mosques on the temple mount (Haram as Sharif) in order to build up the importance of Jerusalem as a Muslim holy place and Palestinian national symbol. These projects increased his prestige immensely in the Arab world and were a good way to raise funds from abroad and provide work, thus providing him with an additional source for giving out patronage.   He apparently instigated the riots of 1929. He took over leadership of the Arab Revolt (Great Uprising)  of 1936-1939, apparently funded by the Italian Fascist government or the Nazis. Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, stated in 1940 that the Italians had funded the Mufti for many years, and likewise the German Siecherheitsdienst (Secret Service) claimed that without their support, the Arabs could not have continued their resistance to the British in Palestine.

The Mufti formed the Higher Arab Committee and used the revolt to settle scores with rival Palestinian clans, murdering hundreds of leaders in 11 different clans. It is reported that he met with Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in September or October of 1937, when Eichmann visited Palestine for a day. Eichmann was investigating the possibility of deporting Jews to Palestine. Reportedly, the Mufti persuaded him against this scheme. However, it is not at all clear that the Mufti was still in Palestine when Eichmann visited. In September or October of 1937, following the murder of the British commissioner for the Galilee, Husseini and the entire "Higher Arab Committee" fled first to Lebanon and then to Iraq, where he engineered a pro-Axis coup. On May 10, 1941 the Mufti broadcast a Fatwa (religious ruling) calling for a holy war against the British. This speech was carried by Iraq and Axis radio stations. Typically, a major complaint in this Fatwa was that the British profaned the Al-Aqsa mosque and were out to destroy Islam:

In Palestine the English have committed unheard of barbarisms; among others, they have profaned the el-Aqsa Mosque and have declared the most unyielding war against Islam, both in deed and in word. The Prime Minister at that time told Parliament that the world would never see peace as long as the Koran existed. What hatred against Islam is stronger than that which publicly declares the Sacred Koran an enemy of human kind? Should such sacrilege go unpunished?

When the Iraqi coup failed, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini fled to Nazi Germany, along with Fawzi El Kaukji. In Germany, he broadcast for the Nazis. He lobbied extensively to prevent Jews from escaping Germany. In 1943, he was sent to Yugoslavia, where he organized the 13th Waffen SS division, known as the  Hanjar (Hansar, Handjar, or Handzar, meaning "saber") division. These Muslims were trained in Germany and officered by Germans. The incorporation of Muslims into the SS required changes in racist ideological propaganda, and also required that they be given special privileges, and not required to eat rations of pork or alcoholic beverages.

Heinrich Himmler wrote to their officers on August 6, 1943:

"...I hold all commanders and other SS officers, responsible for the most scrupulous and loyal respect for this privilege especially granted to the Moslems. They have answered the call of the Moslem chiefs and have come to us out of hatred for the common Jewish-Anglo-Bolshevik enemy and through respect and fidelity for he who they respect above all, the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. There will no longer be the least discussion about the special rights afforded to the Moslems in these circles....

Heil Hitler!


H. Himmler".

Mufti - Nazism: Haj Amin el Husseini reviewing soldiers of his Hansar SS Division

Hajj Amin a Husseini reviewing a unit of Waffen-
SS Handsar Division that he recruited.

The division organized by Husseini was responsible for the murder of about 90% of Bosnia's Jews and destroyed numerous Serbian churches and villages. These  recruits were favorites of  SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who established a special Mullah Military school in Dresden.

The enthusiasm for Nazism, though widespread in Arab lands, was not general. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs served with the British along with some 26,000 Jewish volunteers, and Muslims and Arabs from other countries served in the Allied forces as well. The Mufti tried to organize a Muslim Nazi army from Muslim prisoners of war, but was notably unsuccessful. Even among his own SS division there was apparently unrest. The SS had killed about 40 Muslims fighting with the Yugoslav partisans, including some who were relatives of those serving in the SS. This caused unrest and a small mutiny, as some Muslim SS troops were uninterested in killing Jews and others  in Yugoslavia and wanted to fight in Palestine.

According to testimony by Nazi war criminals, the Mufti's influence was critical to the German decision to annihilate the Jews of Europe.  At the Nuremberg Trials in July 1946, Dieter Wisliceny testified:

"The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan... He was one of Eichmann's best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz."

Wisliceny also testified that after the Mufti's arrival in Germany he had paid a visit to Himmler and shortly afterwards (late in 1941 or early in 1942) had visited Eichmann in his Berlin office at Kürfurstrasse, 116. According to Wisliceny, Eichmann told him that he had brought the Mufti to a special room where he showed him maps illustrating the distribution of the Jewish population in various European countries and delivered a detailed report on the solution of the Jewish problem in Europe. Some of Wisliceny's testimony regarding Eichmann may have been self-serving as is claimed, but the evidence that the Mufti was an avid Nazi and was personally responsible for the mass murder of many Jews is not lacking, even without Wisliceny's testimony.

When the Red Cross offered to mediate with Adolf Eichmann in a prisoner-of-war exchange involving the freeing of German citizens in exchange for 5,000 Jewish children being sent from Poland to the Theresienstadt death camp, Husseini directly intervened with Himmler and the exchange was cancelled.

The Mufti's role in war crimes was well documented, but he escaped detention in France, where he was awaiting trial, evidently because the French sought to derail British plans for Palestine. He then orchestrated the Palestinian civil war against the Jews, in opposition to the UN partition plan. He organized Arab League support for the Palestinian cause, and explained to the British that the solution he would adopt for the Jewish problem in Palestine was the same one as that adopted in Europe - extermination. His Nazi associations did not prevent the Mufti from remaining a revered Palestinian leader.

The significance of the Mufti and his party in Palestinian society and in the history of Zionism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was critical and must not be ignored. The Husseini family massacred the moderate leadership of the  Arab  Palestinian community, leaving them largely without effective leadership, creating an ominous tradition of clan warfare, and firmly establishing the most radical sort of Jew-hatred as a major political element among the Arab Palestinians. Beginning in 1920, Husseini entrenched a tradition of Arab Palestinian pogroms against Jewish civilians, including non-Zionists, featuring the worst sort of atrocities against women, children and old men. This sort of violence also bred an unhealthy taste for revenge, as well as fear.  For the Zionists, the Mufti represented the threat of imminent genocide, and his leadership and statements gave the Zionists to understand that the war with the Palestinians was a take-no-prisoners us-or-them life or death struggle.

On the other hand, the Mufti's influence waned after the Israel War of Independence. For western consumption at least, Palestinians tend to ignore his Nazi affiliations rather than revel in it.  Feisal Husseini, his relative who held the portfolio for Jerusalem in the Palestinian National Authority, was a relative moderate, and other members of the Husseini clan are not necessarily allied with the ideology of Hajj Amin al Husseini.

Ami Isseroff

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Haj Amin El Hussayni Hajj Amin al Hussayni, Haj Ameen al Hussayni

Further Information:  The Iraq Pro-Axis Coup of the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini and the Farhud Arab Riots and Massacres of 1929  The Grand Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini  Nebi musa http://notendur.centrum.is/~snorrigb/muftism.htm Muftism and Nazism

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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