Who was the Grand Mufti, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini?
Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini was born to the wealthy, prominent and a devout Muslim Husseini family in 1893 in Jerusalem. The family was the most powerful and influential clans of the Ottoman Province, with his grandfather Mustafa and half-brother Kamal both being the muftis of Jerusalem. Husseini attended Al-Azhar University of Cairo and studied Islamic philosophy, carrying on his family tradition. Husseini received the honorary title of ‘Haj’ on his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1913.
Husseini voluntarily joined the Ottoman Army during the First World War and was recruited as an artillery officer. He came back to Jerusalem in 1917, finding his home to be very different from when he left. This was due to the fact that the Palestinian population of 800,000 people was made up of mostly Arabs and Muslims in particular. Husseini got offended at all the Jewish immigrants who poured from all over Europe as a part of the Zionist movement. It was not only a religious concern for him but he saw each Jew coming in the land as the reason to displace an Arab. He saw Jewish immigration as a threat to Arabs and Islam, foreseeing a time where Jews would be diluting Palestinian population and would eventually start demanding political rights.
The whole idea of sharing their land with anti-Islamic nation and ending the Muslim control was unacceptable to Husseini from the beginning so he rejected Balfour Declaration and also the British Mandate in Palestine. Thus it was clear that Husseini was not in favor of the Jewish immigration from the very beginning and condemned at every step. He founded a Society of Palestinian Youth and went as far as taking part in launching attacks on the Jews. He was accused for the same by British authorities and sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. Things took a turn in 1920 when Husseini was given the title of “Gran Mufti” by the British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel who took Husseini under his patronage as he sought to extend his hand befriending Palestinian Arabs.
Nazis found in Arab an ally in the form of Husseini who declared him to be the “Fuhrer of the Arabic World”. He took a refuge in Egypt after the war ended in 1945 and influenced people like Anwar Sadat, Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat met Grand Mufti while he was still young. He became his role model and a mentor and also involved Arafat in his cover network.
Arab Muslims consider Haj Amin Al-Husseini not only as the man of the past but also the man of the present. He still is a role model for a number of groups of radical Muslims who have common views with him regarding Jews, West and the Sharia Law. He was one of the dearest friends Nazis had, who helped and got help from them in the times of war. One can say that Haj Amin was the father of Arab nationalism and the only reason he is not revered as much in Palestine today is because “he did not succeed in destroying the Jews and Israel”.