Deutsche Welle (DW) – detikNews
Wednesday, 05 Oct 2022
Jakarta – Open Mosque Day has been regularly held in Germany every October 3 since 1997. This year, around 1,000 mosques across Germany opened their doors wide for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The big motto of 2022 is “Rare resources – big responsibility.”
“The impact of the climate crisis can be observed in our country and in many areas of the world, such as the last one with the catastrophic floods in Pakistan,” said Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD).
Indeed, no one knows the exact number of mosques in the country, but estimates are in the range of 2,350 to 2,750. According to a study by the German Islamic Conference, in 2019 around 24% of the 5.5 million Muslims living in Germany regularly visited a mosque at least once a week.
Here are six interesting facts about the existence of mosques in Germany.
The German Empire once trained jihadists
The Wnsdorf Mosque in Brandenburg, built in 1915 at the request of the Mufti of Istanbul. This mosque is considered to be the first Islamic building in Germany and all of Central Europe. Founded for Muslim prisoners of war in the middle of a prison camp, the mosque was dubbed the “half moon camp.”
In addition to being a place of prayer, it turns out that the German Empire also used this mosque to arouse negative sentiments from Muslim prisoners against France and England. The German Empire called this move a “revolutionary strategy”. It was in this mosque that the jihadists were sworn in and eventually sent to the front to fight the “holy war”.
Some of the Muslim prisoners were also the object of research, which included recordings of their language and anthropological measurements. The results later became part of the pseudoscience field of study that the Nazis called “racial science.”
In 1928, a new mosque was built in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, and the Wnsdorf Mosque lost its importance. The Wnsdorf Mosque was demolished in 1930, less than 15 years after its inauguration.
Similar to Taj Mahal
The mosque in the Wilmersdorf area of Berlin is the oldest existing in Germany today. This building is very similar to the world famous monument in India: the Taj Mahal. Two minarets, each more than 30 meters high frame the mosque building.
The mosque was designed by the German architect, Karl August Herrmann, for the Ahmadiyya community of Lahore who hails from what is now Pakistan. Members of this community came to Germany in 1920. They founded the German Muslim Society in collaboration with Muslims who had previously existed in Germany. The mosque in Berlin-Wilmersdorf became the center of Muslim activity.
Female preacher in Berlin
In 2017, one very special type of mosque was established in the German capital, the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin. There, women and men pray together. Women can give sermons too and this mosque is very inclusive.
“The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque represents a progressive and contemporary Islam that is compatible with democracy and human rights. We live in an Islam where women and men are equal,” the mosque’s website reads.
This site also says all sects in Islam are accepted. “With us, all sects of Islam are accepted, Sunni, Shia, Sufi and Alevi have a sense of belonging in our community.”
Seyran Ates, a lawyer, writer, and women’s rights activist who co-founded this mosque, has paid dearly for his progressive stance. He received frequent death threats and was always under police protection.
In Germany, mosque management is carried out by the respective mosque associations. Perhaps the most well-known and largest Islamic association in Germany in terms of the number of congregational mosques is the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib). The association was criticized for being under the Turkish religious authority of the Diyanet. The imams stationed in German mosques for several years were mostly trained in Turkey and funded by Turkey.
For years, critics have warned about Turkey’s influence on congregations in Germany. The 2018 Turkish presidential election shows that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has many supporters in Germany. During his visit to Germany he was also greeted warmly and lively by his supporters.
Hidden, in the backyard
Christian holy buildings can easily be seen in the landscapes of German cities and most villages are built around churches. But the mosque is barely visible.
The majority of mosques in Germany are almost unrecognizable from the outside. Often, just a sign indicating that there is a mosque behind the inconspicuous entrance. The mosque may be in a housing unit in a residential area or in a commercial area outside the city center.
The term coined in German for such a hidden mosque is Hinterhofmoschee , or backyard mosque. While descriptively appropriate, such a description can have a derogatory connotation.
One exception is the Central Mosque in Koln City which is part of the Ditib. Designed by the star German architect Paul Bhm and opened in 2017, this Muslim holy building looks modern and majestic. The main building materials are exposed glass and concrete, flanked by two 55-meter-high arched towers that soar far beyond the height of the surrounding buildings.
It was originally intended to be the largest mosque in Germany, but the design was changed after criticism of the building plans. This mosque can accommodate 1,200 worshippers.
There is rarely a call to prayer
In Muslim countries a muezzin traditionally calls out the daily prayer times, as well as Friday prayers from the minaret of the mosque. In Germany this is rarely done. Most mosques in Germany do not have minarets.
In addition, the practice of calling the call to prayer is not well accepted in society. By those who refuse, the call to prayer is considered a noise nuisance and criticized as a religious declaration expressed in its sentences. Unlike church bells, the call to prayer by the muezzin is considered to have theological meaning. Therefore, only about 30 mosques in Germany regularly announce the call to prayer.