The Visible Face of Islam: Mosques in Germany
There are more than three million Muslims in Germany, and they now find "places of prostration" – the original meaning of the Arabic word for mosque, 'masjid' – in around 200 regular mosques, but also in countless other locations for prayers and gatherings. Many mosques in Germany are not used solely for religious purposes, but also as an arena for intercultural and interfaith encounters, aimed at contributing to the acceptance and integration of religion in Germany.
When one of the largest mosques in Germany was opened in October 2008 in the Duisburg district of Marxloh, no clear response had been found to the question of whether Islam has a place in Germany. The inauguration was preceded by six years of profound debate and a three-year building phase. The contractors for the large-scale project were – just as in the case of most new mosque constructions of this nature – the DITIB, the umbrella organization of the Turkish-Islamic Union. The mosque complex a
1,200 Muslims can gather for prayers in the Merkez Mosque in the Duisburg district of Marxloh, under the vaulted cupola designed in classical Ottoman style. The basement, which covers an area of 1,000 square metres, contains large event rooms and a library devoted to the study of Islam.
In the summer of 2012, even conservative German politicians observed that religion must take place in the public arena and called on Muslims to build mosques. Even in the largely-Catholic regions of southern Germany, there are now hundreds of Mosques and houses of prayer. The "Kanun-i Sultan Süleyman Mosque" on the outskirts of Strass near Neu-Ulm was completed in 2006.
Germany's oldest mosque is in the Berlin district of Wilmersdorf: the mosque, which was opened in 1928, was built in a Far Eastern Mogul-style modelled on the Taj Mahal. The project had been initiated by the Berlin community of the "Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Dissemination of Islamic Knowledge". Sermons and lectures have been delivered in German here since 1928. Heavily damaged during World War Two, reconstruction of the mosque was financed by donations, most of them from members of the A
There are some 80 mosques and prayer halls in Berlin. Most are located in the rear courtyards of houses and are not recognisable as such from the street. One of the city's most prestigious Islamic houses of worship is the Sehitlik Mosque in Tempelhof, built on one of the oldest Turkish cemeteries in Central Europe, from which its name is also derived (Sehitlik = cemetery in the sense of a cemetery of honour or military cemetery). The mosque is primarily used by Muslims from the neighbouring dist
With capacity for 1,500 worshippers, the Sehitlik Mosque is one of Germany's largest. The extravagant central dome is the pride and joy of many Muslims of Turkish origin. With its Ottoman-style architecture enhanced with details such as hand-painted ceramic tiles and ornamental calligraphy the Sehitlik Mosque, which is a listed building, brings a touch of the Orient to Berlin's cityscape.
The Maschari Center and the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque were opened in Berlin Kreuzberg in 2010. This is the second largest Islamic house of worship in Berlin after the Sehitlik Mosque. Despite its four small minarets, the Islamic centre almost resembles an office building from the outside. The understated façade conceals a domed prayer hall with a two-storey gallery and a capacity for more than 1,000 worshippers.
The Omar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque in Berlin was built by a relatively small Muslim group originating in Lebanon, the "Islamic Association for Charitable Projects". The seven-story complex also includes ceremonial halls, a nursery school, a Koran school as well as boutiques, cafés and a supermarket.
More than eight percent of the c. 3.5 million people living in Berlin originate from an Islamic country. The Khadija Mosque serving the Ahmadiyya community, which was opened in 2008, was the first in the eastern part of the once-divided city. Just as in the case of Cologne, right-wing populist groups staged repeated protests against the mosque during its planning and construction phase.
The DITIB Mosque in Göttingen was opened in 2007. The Turkish-Islamic house of worship maintains close links with secondary schools, offering homework courses for children and young people and making efforts to promote social integration. It has nevertheless been repeatedly targeted in recent times by hostile groups.
The Hamburg Islamic Centre is one of the oldest Muslim institutions in Europe and the centre of Shia Islam in Germany. Construction of the affiliated Imam Ali Mosque, the fourth-oldest mosque in Germany on Hamburg's Outer Alster was financed in the 1960s by Iranian businessmen. The mosque is currently under observation by the domestic intelligence agency.
The Islamic Forum in the Bavarian town of Penzberg defines itself as independent, multinational, neutral and open. This is an approach also reflected in the architecture of the mosque, which opened in 2005: ornamental influences from Spain and India, shards of recycled glass as construction material for the façade, and a filigree steel minaret. The mosque corresponds to architect Alen Jaarevic's vision of a modern, Islamic architectural language.
Even when it was still at planning stage, a major new mosque for the Cologne district of Ehrenfeld caused bitter rows. Its foundation stone was laid on 7 November 2009. The design of the building and the height of its two minaret towers were the subject of public controversy. There was also a disagreement between the DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion) and the architect Paul Böhm, and as a consequence the mosque is not expected to open before the end of 2012 at the earlie
In Bonn too, where around 1,000 Muslims attend Friday prayers every week, building work on a new large mosque is about to be completed: the Al Muhajirin Mosque is scheduled to be opened with a major ceremony before the end of the year. Some 400 men will be able to pray in the new building, with a separate gallery reserved for women. There are already nine registered mosques in Bonn.
As well as open Muslim communities that strive for better integration, there are also a number of more radical groupings. Germany's intelligence service has for a long time maintained surveillance of the Salafist Al Muhsinin Mosque in the Bonn district of Beuel for example – one of 30 places of worship in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia suspected of being part of an Islamic network.
Germany's intelligence agency maintained close observation of smaller, nondescript mosques such as this one – the Falah Mosque in Frankfurt's Raimundstraße.
Many mosque communities seek interfaith dialogue, for example the Frankfurt Islamic Community founded in the early 1960s as a drop-in centre for students. Today, worshippers meet in the magnificent prayer hall of the Abu Bakr Mosque. This mosque complex also includes a library and classrooms.