Posted Posted on 2015-11-13
Refuting the Idea That A Muslim (Amin al-Husayni) Prompted the Holocaust
Note: This is an excerpt from a longer article I wrote refuting the idea that “Muslims are the new Fascists” and that the prompting of a pro-Nazi Muslim, Amin al-Husayni, led to the Holocaust. This allegation was recently advanced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who subsequently admitted the false nature of his claim in the face of scathing international condemnation.
The shameless allegation that Islam is the new fascism would be bad enough were it presented in isolation. However, it is coupled with allegations that Muslims supported Hitler and the Nazis during World War Two. Such allegations are a foul misrepresentation of the historical record and serve to dishonor the memory of all of the courageous Muslims who selflessly fought and died in defense of the European democracies, even though many of their own lands were still suffering under the yoke of European colonization.
At the heart of these baseless and base allegations is the fact that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, had close ties to the German leader Adolf Hitler, and even spent part of the war in Berlin. While this much is true, al-Husayni’s sentiments were not those of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, to say nothing of the rest of the world’s Muslims. To use al-Husyni’s ties to Hitler as a means to defame and discredit Islam and Muslims as fascists is misleading and has to be challenged. 
In fact, there were several Palestinian brigades and tens of thousands of Palestinians in the British Army who actively fought the spread of fascism.  The existence of these Palestinian brigades was more indicative of the mood of the Arab and Muslim masses, than al-Husayni’s misguided actions. Therefore, when al-Husayni issued his call for a Muslim “Jihad” against the allied forces his plea was largely ignored. The fascist “Jihad” never materialized. The reason for that is simple. It had no significant support from the masses of Muslims, particularly, the Palestinians 
The Palestinian Muslims were not alone in terms of their participation in the anti-fascist effort. Hundreds of thousands of North and West African Muslims assisted in the liberation of France from the German occupation and the French Vichy government. Upwards to half of the free French forces that landed in southern France in 1944 were Africans, the overwhelming majority of them Muslims. Among their ranks is a group referred to as Senegal’s Secret Soldiers, a group of Senegalese Muslims who played a significant role in the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. 
One of this country’s staunchest Muslim allies in the struggle against the fascist menace was the Moroccan king, Muhammad V. He not only worked strenuously to insure that Moroccans supported neither the French Vichy government nor the Nazi effort in North Africa, but he also courageously supported Moroccan Jews during the war years, saving them from extermination at the hands of the Vichy regime. Muhammad V’s effort were so heroic in this latter regard that the Moroccan Jewish community has initiated an effort to have him become the first Arab to receive Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations award. 
Further east, hundreds of thousands of Muslims enrolled in the British Indian Army. On January 1, 1945, there were 447,580 Punjabi Muslims in the British Indian Army. This number constituted 32% of the army’s troop strength, a percentage tremendously greater than the percentage of Muslims in the overall Indian population.  These Muslim soldiers were deployed in all of the major theaters of battle in the fight against the Axis powers and performed admirably. They were firmly supported by the political leader of the Muslims in India, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, himself a staunch critic of Hitler. 
The claim of widespread Muslim support for Hitler is further belied by the fact that Turkey, at that time the strongest independent Muslim nation, maintained strict neutrality for most of the war. When the Turks did enter the war they did so on the side of the Alliance. The Turks broke all diplomatic and economic relations with the Germans in August of 1944,  and declared war against Germany, February 23, 1945.  These moves were instrumental in the defeat of fascism. Besides the political importance of Turkey’s declaration of war against the Axis forces, her entrance into the war on the side of the Alliance deprived Germany of one of its major supplies of chromite, an essential element in her steel production.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the Muslims who actively opposed fascism is the work of the Paris Mosque in protecting Jewish children from the Nazis, who were sending French Jews: men, women, and children to perish in the death camps of Eastern Europe. The mosque itself was built by the French government in appreciation of the 500,000 Muslims who had fought for France during World War One, with 100,000 losing their lives in the trenches. It is estimated that the mosque helped to save over 1,700 Jewish children, by providing them with shelter, transit, and Muslim names.  Below is a copy of a pamphlet that circulated among Algerian Muslims in Paris at the onset of the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews in France:
“Yesterday at dawn, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The old, women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. The one who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune - or sorrow - lasts. Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous.” 
The full extent of this particular historical chapter is of course much richer than what we have presented here. We cannot allow the effort and sacrifices of our forebears to be buried by an avalanche of propaganda and lies. We have to fight back with the truth. We have to organize to disseminate the truth, and to inform the citizens of this land of who we are as Muslims and the truth about our religion and history. Most importantly, we cannot allow the honor and dignity of our innocent coreligionists, whose sacrifices have enriched humanity, to be trampled on and violated by individuals who have placed themselves in the service of a sinister and nefarious agenda.
Imam Zaid Shakir
For the original article see: http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/may_jun_09_shakir
1) The extent of Al-Husayni’s collaboration with the Hitler and the Nazis has been exaggerated by many propagandists and polemicists. For an objective and well-researched assessment of the extent of that involvement see Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin Al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement (Columbia University Press: New York, NY, 1998), 99-107.
2) For Palestinian support for the Allies see Ashley Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2006), 141. See also Orayb Aref Najjar, “Falastin Editorial Writers, the Allies, World War II, and the Palestinian National Question in the 21st Century,” SIMILE: Studies in Media and Literacy Education, 3, no. 4 (2003): 1-15.
3) Mattar, 104-105.
4) Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, “Senegal’s Secret Soldiers,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/3548400.stm.
5) Muhammad V -Righteous Among the Nations, http://www.isracast.com/article.aspx?id=108.
6) Noor Husain, “The Role of the Martial Races of Today’s Pakistan in British Indian Army in World War II,” Defense Journal, http://www.defencejournal.com/sept99/martial-races.htm.
8) George Lenczowski, The Middle East in World Affairs (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1980), 133.
9) Ibid., 134.
10) See Annette Herskovits, “The Mosque That Sheltered Jews,” Street Spirit, http://www.thestreetspirit.org/ Feb2005/mosque.htm.