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Palestinian Authority's Top Cleric: Jerusalem Is Eternal Jihad’s Greatest Prize

Yet again, the Palestinian Authority has made perfectly clear why peace between Palestinians and Israelis is so difficult.

In a speech laden with historical and theological allusions that few in the West -- but many in the Muslim world -- understand, Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian Authority’s leading Islamic cleric, supreme Sharia judge, and personal advisor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said this:

Jerusalem’s [Al-Aqsa] Mosque apparently is the heading for the eruption of the conflict and the Battle of History between Islam and the enemies of Islam … This mosque is decreed to be the arena of the battle between good and evil.

That Jerusalem is “the Battle of History” -- the crowning point of 1400 years of violent jihad -- is a dramatic assertion for anyone who understands the existential role of warfare in Islam’s history. As documented in my new book Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, Islam was born on and spread through offensive warfare -- centuries of jihad. The overwhelming majority of the “Muslim world” -- including its heartlands of the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, and North Africa -- was violently wrested from much older, non-Islamic civilizations.

That al-Habbash is saying the future battle for Jerusalem will be the battle -- the crowning achievement of centuries of bloody, world-altering jihads -- is readily obvious when he describes it as follows:

[B]etween Islam and the enemies of Islam; between the Muslims and the enemies of Muslims; between the Islamic culture in all its splendor and human glory and the culture of Satan attempting to establish oppression and aggression at the expense of the culture of truth and goodness …

Western listeners will likely assume that appellations like “enemies of Islam,” “enemies of Muslims,” etc., are indicators that al-Habbash is referring to a defensive jihad in the name of “justice” against those who presumably oppress Muslims -- in this case, Israel. In fact, from a strictly Islamic, Sharia point of view, “enemies of Islam” and “enemies of Muslims” apply to all non-Muslims who, in any way, oppose Islam’s spread into and takeover of non-Muslim nations.

All the peoples of land historically conquered by Islam -- Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Zoroastrians -- were by definition “enemies of Islam,” “enemies of Muslims.” They were to be slaughtered or enslaved, precisely because they refused to capitulate -- to submit -- to Islam when it came knocking.

This is why the historic Islamic conquests are never in Arabic and other Muslim languages referred to as “conquests,” but rather as futuhat: “openings,” for the light of Islam to enter. (Fatah in the singular, as the Palestinian group calls itself.) In this context, every land ever invaded or seized by Muslims was done “altruistically” to bring Islam to wayward infidels, who are seen as the unjust aggressors getting what they deserved -- death or slavery -- for resisting Islam. This is “the culture of truth and goodness” that al-Habbash is eager to impose on Jerusalem.