Islam in Germany

Islam in Germany
A Mosque in Rodgau of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

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Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany. As of 2009, there are 4.3 million Muslims (5.4% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%).[1] As of 2006, about 15,000 converts are of German ancestry.[2]



Islam is the largest minority religion in the country, with the Protestant and Roman Catholic confessions being the majority religions. The large majority of Muslims in Germany are of Turkish origin (63,2%), followed by smaller groups from Pakistan, countries of the former Yugoslavia, Arab countries, Iran and Afghanistan. Most Muslims live in Berlin and the larger cities of former West Germany. However, unlike in most other European countries, sizeable Muslim communities exist in some rural regions of Germany, especially Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and parts of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. Owing to the lack of labour immigration before 1989, there are only very few Muslims in the former East Germany. The majority of Muslims in Germany are Sunnis, at 75%. There are some members of the Shia (7%) and mostly from Iran and some members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (1%), most of whom are of Pakistani origin. Most Turkish Muslims are Sunnis, but between a fifth and a quarter are believed to be Alevis. The Alevis are a heterodox religious and cultural community officially not recognized by the Turkish state, who account for between a fifth and a quarter of the population (more than 15 million people) in their native Turkey. Most Alevites embrace tolerance and secularism, which helps them to integrate into mainstream German society much better than other belief systems.

The Ahmadiyya comprise a minority of Germany's Muslims, numbering some 60,000 members in more than 200 communities as of 2004.[3]


Muslims first came to Germany as part of the diplomatic, military and economic relations between Germany and the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century.[4] Twenty Muslim soldiers served under Frederick William I of Prussia, at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1745, Frederick II of Prussia established a unit of Muslims in the Prussian army called the "Muslim Riders" and consisting mainly of Bosniaks, Albanians and Tatars. In 1760 a Bosniak corps was established with about 1,000 men.[citation needed]

In 1798 a Muslim cemetery was established in Berlin. The cemetery, which moved in 1866, still exists today.[5]

The German section of the World Islamic Congress and the Islam Colloquium, the first German Muslim educational institution for children, were established in 1932.

At this time there were 3,000 Muslims in Germany, 300 of whom were of German descent. The rise of Nazism in the country did not target Muslims. Adolf Hitler repeatedly expressed the view that Islam would have been much more compatible to the "Germanic races" than "meek" and "feeble" Christianity:

Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers [...] then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world.[6]

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Amin al-Husayni energetically recruited Muslims for the SS (Schutzstaffel), the Nazi Party’s elite military command.[7] He recruited Muslim volunteers for the German armed forces and was involved in the organization and recruitment of Muslims into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units.

The Islamic Institut Ma’ahad-ul-Islam was founded in 1942, during World War 2. (It is now known under the Name "Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland")

After the West German Government invited foreign workers (g: "Gastarbeiter") in 1961, the figure sharply rose to currently 4.3 Million within 2 decades (most of them Turkish from the Rural Region of Anatolia in Southeast Turkey). They are sometimes called a "parallel society" within ethnic Germans.


A Mosque in Essen.
Khadija Mosque in Berlin of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Only a minority of the Muslims residing in Germany are members of religious associations. The ones with the highest numerical strength are:

  • Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği (DİTİB): German branch of the Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs, Cologne
  • Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş: close to the Islamist Saadet Partisi in Turkey, Kerpen near Cologne
  • Islamische Gemeinschaft Jamaat un-Nur: German branch of the Risale-i Nur Society (Said Nursi)
  • Verband der islamischen Kulturzentren: German branch of the conservative Süleymancı sect in Turkey, Cologne
  • Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland organization of Arab Muslims close to the Muslim Brotherhood, Frankfurt
  • Verband der Islamischen Gemeinden der Bosniaken: Bosnian Muslims, Kamp-Lintfort near Duisburg
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Deutschland: German branch of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. There is no ethnicity or race associated with this community although most of the members of the community residing in Germany are of the Pakistani origin.
  • Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland e.V. : Documentary of Islamic Foundation-writings since 1739. The Islamic Institut was founded in 1942 (Sooner called Ma’ahad-ul-Islam Institut)

Furthermore there are the following umbrella organisations:

  • Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, domimated by the "Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland" and the "Islamisches Zentrum Aachen"
  • Islamrat in Deutschland, dominated by Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş and its suborganisations

In addition there are numerous local associations without affiliation to any of these organisations. Two organisations have been banned in 2002 because their programme was judged as contrary to the constitution: The "Hizb ut-Tahrir" and the so called "Caliphate State" founded by Cemalettin Kaplan and later led by his son Metin Kaplan.


As elsewhere in Western Europe, the rapid growth of the Muslim community in Germany has led to social tensions and political controversy, partly connected to Islamic extremism, and partly more generally due to the difficulties of multiculturalism and fears of Überfremdung.

In Education System

One such issue concerns the wearing of the head-scarf by teachers in schools and universities. The right to practice one's religion, claimed by the teachers in question, contradicts in the view of many the neutral stance of the state towards religion. As of 2006, many of the German federal states have introduced legislation banning head-scarves for teachers. It is almost certain that in 2006 these laws will be validated as constitutional. However, unlike in France, there are no laws against the wearing of head-scarves by students.

In the German federal states with the exception of Bremen, Berlin and Brandenburg, lessons of religious education overseen by the respective religious communities are taught as an elective subject in state schools. It is being discussed whether apart from the Catholic and Protestant (and in a few schools, Jewish) religious education that currently exists, a comparable subject of Islamic religious education should be introduced. However, efforts to resolve this issue in cooperation with existing Islamic organisations are hampered by the fact that none of them can be considered as representative of the whole Muslim community.

Construction of Mosques

The construction of mosques occasionally arouses hostile reactions in the neighbourhoods concerned. For example, in 2007 an attempt by Muslims to build a large mosque in Cologne sparked a controversy.

Fears of Islamic fundamentalism

Fears of Islamic fundamentalism came to the fore after September 11, 2001, especially with respect to Islamic fundamentalism among second- and third-generation Muslims in Germany. Also the various confrontations between Islamic religious law (Sharia) and the norms of German Grundgesetz and culture are the subject of intense debate. German critics include both liberals and Christian groups. The former claim that Islamic fundamentalism violates basic fundamental rights whereas the latter maintain that Germany is a state and society grounded in the Christian tradition.

Banning of IHH Germany

In July 2010, Germany has outlawed the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V. (IHH Germany), saying it has used donations to support Hamas, which is considered by the European Union and Germany to be a terrorist organization,[8][9] while presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian help. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, "Donations to so-called social welfare groups belonging to Hamas, such as the millions given by IHH, actually support the terror organization Hamas as a whole." [8][9] IHH e.V. was believed by the German Authorities to have collected money in mosques and to have sent $8.3 million to organizations related to Hamas.[10]

German Orientalists

See also


  1. ^,,4419533,00.html
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ala Al-Hamarneh, Jörn Thielmann. Islam and Muslims in Germany. BRILL, 2008. ISBN 9004158669, 9789004158665. Pg 310
  4. ^ State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities. Sweden, Great Britain and Germany, "Muslims in German History until 1945", Jochen Blaschke
  5. ^ Islamischer Friedhof am Columbiadamm
  6. ^ "Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944", p. 667 translated by N. Cameron. Hitler's confidant Albert Speer reports of a similar statement made by Hitler: "The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?", see Albert Speer: Inside the Third Reich: memoirs. Simon and Schuster. pp. 96 et seq. ISBN 9780684829494.
  7. ^ Sam Roberts (December 2010). "Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  8. ^ a b Germany bans group accused of Hamas links, Ynet 07.12.10
  9. ^ a b Germany outlaws IHH over claimed Hamas links, Haaretz 12.07.10
  10. ^ Germany IHH e.V. ban shameful, illegal, says group leader. Today's Zaman, Jul 14, 2010 [1]

Further reading

  • Amir-Moazami, Schirin (December 2005). "Muslim Challenges to the Secular Consensus: A German Case Study". Journal of Contemporary European Studies 13 (3): 267–286. doi:10.1080/14782800500378359. 

External links

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