Muhammad Ahmad Hussein has been the current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem since July 2006, when he was appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Hussein replaced Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, who was reportedly fired by Abbas for his growing popularity and open expression of highly contentious political views.
Prior to becoming Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hussein was the manager and imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He was reportedly chosen for the position by Abbas because unlike his predecessor, he was expected to avoid controversy and self-aggrandizement.
In October 2006, three months after his appointment as Grand Mufti, Hussein stated in an interview that suicide bombing by Palestinians against Israelis was "legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance".
On January 9, 2012, while addressing a crowd at an event marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, Hussein quoted a hadith (saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad), stating: "The Hour will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: O Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
The mufti's comments were broadcast on Palestinian television the same day and then disseminated more widely on January 15 by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli media watchdog group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the mufti's words as "morally heinous" and compared his behavior to the former grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had allied himself with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the police to open a criminal investigation into the matter.
On 8 May 2013, the Grand Mufti was detained by Israeli authorities for questioning about his alleged connection to riots on the Temple Mount (also known as Haram al-Sharif, "the Noble Sanctuary", in Arabic).
In an interview with Israeli television's Channel 2 on October 25, 2015, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein denied that the Temple Mount had ever housed any Jewish temple. The site, considered the third holiest in Islam and the holiest to Jews, according to the Grand Mufti, was a mosque "3,000 years ago, and 30,000 years ago" and had been so "since the creation of the world." Regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was founded by the caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab in the 7th century, the Mufti asserted that "this is the Al-Aqsa Mosque that Adam, peace be upon him, or during his time, the angels built."