Open house at Germany's mosques
Up to 1,000 mosques opened their doors to visitors on 3 October under the slogan "Good community, better society". We take a closer look into this community event hosted by the Islamic houses of prayer. By Helena Weise
German mosques – German unity: Mosque Open Day has taken place on the Day of German Unity – Germany's national holiday – since 1997. As the Central Council of Muslims explains, the date was deliberately chosen to express Muslims' connection to the German people and how they consider themselves part of German Unity. Some 100,000 visitors attended – here, some are seen standing in front of Berlin's Sehitlik Mosque
Mosques for all: on this day, Muslim communities want to give visitors an understanding of Islam, so where better than an actual mosque? Far more than just places for prayer, mosques also serve as gathering points for creating community and social interaction. The word "mosque" derives from the Arabic word "majid", which means "place for prostration in prayer"
Rituals and rules: part of getting to know Islam is becoming familiar with its rules and rituals. One initial ritual before entering the mosque involves removing one's shoes before entering the prayer room. There is a focus on cleanliness and purification: before each prayer, Muslims carry out ritual ablutions. Because worshipers touch the prayer rug with their foreheads, the carpets must always be clean too
Architecture and history: most mosques offer guided tours, as seen above in Hurth near Cologne. Here, visitors can get a picture of Islamic architecture, history and day-to-day life in a mosque – this helps foster understanding about how Islamic communities in Germany gather and build community
Sharing spirit: the Merkez mosque in Duisburg, which opened in 2008, is the largest mosque in Germany. Integration work is one of the focal points for Duisburg's Muslim community. Besides guided tours through the mosque, visitors get the chance to attend noon and afternoon prayers. Afterwards, visitors are invited for a cup of tea
Sharing salah: experiencing Islamic prayer is one point of the agenda for the October 3 event. But the actual area for prayers is off-limits for visitors. As can be seen in the Sehitlik mosque here, visitors listen to prayers from a balcony. The word for prayer in Arabic is "salah" or "salat," which literally means "connection to God"
Misbaha and rosary: this boy was given a chain with prayer beads during Mosque Open Day in Frankfurt. The faithful move the beads through their fingers to repeat prayers and chants, just as is done in Christendom and Buddhism. This chain, consisting of at least 33 beads, is called "tasbih" or "misbaha" in Islam. The beads prove useful when reciting Allah's 99 names
Intercultural dialogue: mosques in Germany open their doors for cultural understanding on other occasions, too. For instance, during the German Catholic Convention, Catholic nuns take part in guided tours, as seen here in the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque in Mannheim. Such occasions offer an opportunity for Catholicism and Islam to cultivate closer ties
Dispelling prejudice: mosques in Dresden invite visitors to cultural exchange as well. The Al-Mostafa mosque published a schedule of events: lectures were held by the imam about Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, as well as conversation hours to share refreshments, learn and discuss. In a city where the Islamophobic AfD is still making headlines, this offering is especially important