Islam in Palestine
|Islam by country|
Not all Palestinians are Muslim; a small percentage of the population are Christian. Islam is a major religion in Palestinian Territories. Islam is the religion of the majority of the Palestinian population, with Muslims comprising 80-85% of the population of the West Bank, when including Israeli Settlers, and 99% of the population of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Muslims primarily practice Shafi'i Islam, which is a branch of Sunni Islam.
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Islam was first introduced to the region of Palestine during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when armies from the Arabian Peninsula under the Rashidun Caliphate conquered a territory previously under the control of the Byzantine Empire.
As a result of the rise of the Ottoman Empire, from 1516 to 1917, the Sunni Ottoman Turks ruled the historic Palestine. Their leadership reinforced and ensured the centrality and importance of Islam as the dominant religion in the region.
Jerusalem is Islam's third holiest city after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) of Jerusalem is believed by Muslims to be the location from which Muhammad ascended to Jannah (paradise). This widely accepted Islamic belief raises the religious and spiritual importance to them of the Dome of the Rock and the adjacent al-Aqsa Mosque.
In 1922, the British created the Supreme Muslim Council in the Mandatory Palestine and appointed Haj Amin al-Husseini (1895–1974) as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The council was abolished in 1948. The British transferred the symbolic Islamic governance of the land to the Hashemites based in Jordan, and not to the House of Saud. The Hashemites thus became the official guardians of the Islamic holy places of Jerusalem and the areas around it, particularly strong when Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem (1948–1967). Today, only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount which is managed day to day by the Islamic Waqf, an administrative body taking responsibility for the conduct of Islamic affairs in the region of the Temple Mount.
Ahmadiyya is a small sect of Islam in Palestine. The community, which is not recognized as genuine Islamic by mainstream Muslims, faces persecution and experiences matrimonial restrictions imposed by local Sharia courts. Although no estimates are available, reports suggest that there may be "dozens" of Palestinian Ahmadi Muslims in the West Bank.
- West Bank. CIA Factbook
- Gaza Strip. CIA Factbook
- A Concise History of Islam and the Arabs MidEastWeb.org
- From the article on Islam in Palestine and Israel in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
- Maayana Miskin (May 31, 2010). "PA's Moderate Muslims Face Threats". Israel National News. Retrieved March 11, 2015.