In a recent speech, Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the Grand Mufti of Palestine at the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had counseled Hitler to “burn the Jews”. It is quite astonishing that Netanyahu is so ill-informed of such a fundamental aspect of the Holocaust, especially because Hitler himself had told the world in his book, Mein Kampf, about the reality behind the destruction of Jews.
He said in that book — and these are his very words — that the Jew is his enemy and his God had ordered him to destroy his enemy. Since Hitler was brought up as a Christian, his God must have been Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, who had instituted the Law of the Hirim for His Chosen People. This Law imposed a binding religious duty on the Chosen People which stipulated that they should fully annihilate their enemies as a religious offering to Yahweh — an instance of the application of this Law, among many others, is the total annihilation of Jericho by Joshua. Hitler was, in effect, obeying his God by applying the Law of the Hirim to the Jews.
But even in his diabolical innovation which consisted of mechanizing the genocide and being thus able to carry it out en masse, Hitler was following in the footsteps of his God, Yahweh, for we are told in Chapter 63 of the Book of Isaiah that several nations had incurred the wrath of Yahweh due to their enmity towards the Chosen People. So He resolved to destroy them all at once and in the most efficacious of ways. To that effect, He set up a huge wine press, and then threw all these nations in it and proceeded to trample them with His feet, much like the winemakers in Biblical times trampled their grapes in their wine presses .
Hitler, therefore, was not only carrying out the orders of his God; he was also following in His footsteps!
It must be pointed out here that for a nation or culture to be open to the possibility of carrying out, or accepting, or condoning a genocide, it must partake of these three practices:
- The practice of collective guilt,
- The practice of collective punishment,
- The denial of the sanctity of human life to one group or another.
All these three practices are completely alien to Islam, both in theory and in practice. The first two are precluded by the fundamental principle which is repeated several times in the Quran, that no person can be held responsible for someone else’s actions. The third one is precluded by another fundamental principle of the Quran which states that the sanctity of human life is absolute, universal, and inalienable. To quote The Quran 05:32
For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.
These Quranic principles are not just ideals, but laws that govern the conduct of the entire Islamic society. For instance, I experienced this firsthand during the civil war in Lebanon in the last quarter of the previous century. The Maronites, who had actually started that war, carried out massacres and indiscriminate killings against the Muslims, which eventually culminated in the well known massacres of Sabra and Shatila. But nonetheless, and in the face of such atrocities, the Grand Mufti of Lebanon at the time, Sheikh Khaled Muhammad Khaled, never got tired of repeating to the Muslim community that the fundamental principle in Islam is that no person can be held responsible for the actions of someone else, and that Islam absolutely forbids them to partake in indiscriminate killing, even if it were in retaliation for what was being done to them.
As for Netanyahu, he could have saved himself his present embarrassment had he consulted actual scholars and students of Islam. They would have explained to him that no Grand Mufti would ever call for, or condone, or accept genocide, and instead would reject it completely. Why? Simply because no Grand Mufti would contravene the precepts of the Quran. Unfortunately for Netanyahu, he is not aware of the teachings of the Quran, and that possibly explains his incorrect remark about the Grand Mufti and Holocaust.
photo by Utenriksdepartementet UD