Islam in Germany

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The Wünsdorf Mosque, at the Halbmondlager POW camp, was Germany's first mosque, built in 1915; it was demolished in 1925–26.

Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany.[2] According to a national census conducted in 2011, 1.9% of Germany's population (around 1.5m people) declared themselves as Muslim. However, this is likely to underestimate the true number, given that many respondents may have exercised their right not to state their religion.[3] An estimate made in 2015 calculated that there are 4.4 to 4.7 million Muslims in Germany (5.4–5.7% of the population).[4] Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%).[5] According to the German statistical office 9.1% of all newborns in Germany had Muslim parents in 2005.[6]


Islam is the largest minority religion in the country, with the Protestant and Roman Catholic confessions being the majority religions. There are between 2.1 and 4.7 million Muslims.[7][8][9] This lack of exactitude has to do with the fact that many people from the Muslim World aren't practicing believers according to a German study conducted in 2016.[8]

The large majority of Muslims in Germany are of Turkish origin (63.2%),[10] 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. Among the German districts with the highest share of Muslim migrants are Groß-Gerau (district) and Offenbach (district) according to migrants data from the census 2011. [11] The majority of Muslims in Germany are Sunnis, at 75%. There are Shia Muslims (7%) and mostly from Iran.[citation needed] The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community organization comprise a minority of Germany's Muslims, numbering some 35,000 members or a little over 1% of the Muslim population,[12] and are found in 244 communities[12] as of 2013.


Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (28 November 1941).

Muslims first moved to Germany as part of the diplomatic, military and economic relations between Germany and the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century.[13] Twenty Muslim soldiers served under Frederick William I of Prussia, at the beginning of the eighteenth 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.[14]

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

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 Islamic Institut Ma’ahad-ul-Islam was founded in 1927 and is now known under the name "Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland" (Central Islamic Archive Institute).

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini energetically recruited Muslims for the SS (Schutzstaffel), the Nazi Party’s elite military command.[15] 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.

After the West German Government invited foreign workers ("Gastarbeiter") in 1961, the figure sharply rose to currently 4.3 million within two decades (most of them Turkish from the rural region of Anatolia in southeast Turkey). They are sometimes called a parallel society within ethnic Germans.[16]

In May 2018 a court in Berlin upheld the right the state's neutrality principle by barring a primary school teacher from wearing a headscarf during classes, where the court spokesman stated that children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols.[17]

According to a study in 2018 by Leipzig University, 56% of Germans sometimes thought the many Muslims made them feel like strangers in their own country, up from 43% in 2014. In 2018, 44% thought immigration by Muslims should be banned, up from 37% in 2014.[18]


A mosque in Essen

Muslims in Germany belong to serval different branches of Islam (approximately data):

Islamic organisations[edit]

Only a minority of the Muslims residing in Germany are members of religious associations.


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.



  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Deutschland K.d.ö.R.: German branch of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community. There is no ethnicity or race associated with this community although most of the members of the community residing in Germany are of Pakistani origin. The Ahmadiyya Community was established in Germany in 1923 in Berlin and is one of the largest in Europe. Communities exist in Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Bremen.[26]
  • Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement: German branch of the worldwide Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement.

Liberal Islam[edit]



  • Verband der islamischen Kulturzentren: German branch of the conservative Süleymancı sect in Turkey, Cologne
  • Verband der Islamischen Gemeinden der Bosniaken: Bosnian Muslims, Kamp-Lintfort near Duisburg
  • Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland e.V. : Documentary of Islamic Foundation-writings since 1739. The Islamic Institute was founded in 1942 (Sooner called Ma’ahad-ul-Islam Institut).[clarification needed]

Umbrella organisations[edit]

Furthermore, there are the following umbrella organisations:


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 more generally due to the perceived difficulties of multiculturalism and fears of Überfremdung.


A 2017 study on Jewish perspectives on antisemitism in Germany by Bielefeld University found that individuals and groups belonging to the extreme right and extreme left were equally represented as perpetrators of antisemitic harassment and assault, while the largest part of the attacks were committed by Muslim assailants. The study also found that 70% of the participants feared a rise in antisemitism due to immigration citing the antisemitic views of the refugees.[31]

In the education system[edit]

German States that have banned teachers from wearing headscarves (red)

One such issue concerns the wearing of the head-scarf by teachers in schools and universities. The right to practice one's religion, stated 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.[citation needed]

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 as a regular part of the curricula. In several states, trials for Islamic religious education are being conducted, while in the states of Hessen, Lower-Saxony and Northrhine-Westphalia, Islamic religious education already is integrated as a regular class. The problem that the cooperation with Islamic organisations is hampered by the fact that none of them can be considered as representative of the whole Muslim community.[citation needed]

Construction of mosques and other projects[edit]

The construction of mosques is occasionally resisted by anti Muslim reactions in the neighbourhoods concerned. For example, in 2007 an attempt by Muslims to build a large mosque in Cologne sparked a controversy.[32]

Similarly with the Sendlinger Mosque Controversy,[citation needed] and the proposed construction of a training academy in Munich, originally called the "Centre for Islam in Europe, Munich" (ZIE-M), and later the "Munich Forum for Islam".[33]

Islamic Theological Studies[edit]

In 2010, the German Ministry of Education and Research established Islamic Theological Studies as an academic discipline at public universities in order to train teachers for Islamic religious education and Muslim theologians. Since then, Islamic theological departments have been established at several universities, conducting research and teaching on Islam from a theological perspective.[34]

Islamic fundamentalism[edit]

Concerns 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 - the Hamburg cell, which included Mohamed Atta, was prominent in the planning and execution of the September 11 attacks. 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.

According to a 2012 poll, 72% of the Turks in Germany believe that Islam is the only true religion and 46% wish that one day more Muslims live in Germany than Christians.[35][36][37] According to a 10-year survey by the University of Bielefeld, which dealt with different aspects of attitudes to Islam, "distrust" of Islam is widespread in Germany with only 19 percent of Germans believing that Islam is compatible with German culture.[38]

According to 2013 study by Social Science Research Center Berlin, two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live, almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam (Christian respondents’ answers for comparison: As many as 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic; 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends; and 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture).[39]


Salafists strive to live exclusively according to the Quran. According to German authorities, Salafism is incompatible with the principles codified in the Constitution of Germany, in particular democracy, the rule of law and a political order based on human rights.[40] According to the German security service, the Salafist movement attracts rising numbers. In 2011 there were an estimated 3800 Salafists in Germany, which rose to 10300 in September 2017.[41] According to head of security office Hans-Georg Maaßen, the Salafist scene in Germany is not dominated by any one single individual, but instead a great many persons have to be monitored.[42]

In 2016, the interior minstry of North Rhine-Westphalia reported that the number of mosques with a salafist influence had risen from 30 to 55, which indicated both an actual increase and improved reporting.[43]

Islamist scene in Germany[edit]

Turkish and Kurdish Islamist groups are also active in Germany, and Turkish and Kurdish Islamists have co-operated in Germany as in the case of the Sauerland terror cell.[44] Political scientist Guido Steinberg stated that many top leaders of Islamist organizations in Turkey fled to Germany in the 2000s, and that the Turkish (Kurdish) Hizbullah has also "left an imprint on Turkish Kurds in Germany."[44] Also many Kurds from Iraq (there are about 50,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Kurds in Germany) financially supported Kurdish-Islamist groups like Ansar al Islam.[44] Many Islamists in Germany are ethnic Kurds (Iraqi and Turkish Kurds) or Turks. Before 2006, the German Islamist scene was dominated by Iraqi Kurds and Palestinians, but since 2006 Kurds and Turks from Turkey are dominant.[44]

In 2016, 90 mosques were monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution for their islamist ideology. These were mostly Arabic-language "backyard mosques" where self-appointed imams exhorted their followers to wage jihad.[45]

Since the start of 2017 until April 2018, 80 islamist extremists without German citizenship were deported to their home countries.[46]

In March 2018, there were 760 islamists in Germany classified as dangerous by police authorities, of which more than half were on German territory and 153 of the latter were in prison.[47]

Banning of IHH Germany[edit]

In July 2010, Germany outlawed the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V. (IHH Germany), saying it had used donations to support Hamas, which is considered by the European Union and Germany to be a terrorist organization,[48][49] 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."[48][49] 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.[50]

Religiosity of young Muslims[edit]

Studies show that while not all Muslims are religious, Muslim youths are markedly more religious than non-Muslim youths. A study comparing Turkish Muslim youths living in Germany and German youth found that the former were more likely to attend religious services regularly (35% versus 14%).[51]

41% of young Turkish Muslim boys and 52% of the girls said they prayed "sometimes or regularly"; 64% of boys and 74% of girls said they wanted to teach their children religion.[51]

According to a 2012 poll, 25% of the Turks in Germany believe atheists are inferior human beings.[52][53]

Notable German Muslims[edit]



  • Kristiane Backer a German television presenter, television journalist and author
  • Atif Bashir, footballer, plays for Barry Town in the Welsh Football League First Division.
  • Aslı Bayram a German actor and writer and an honorary Ambassador for Crime Prevention by the Justice Ministry Hessen, Germany
  • Danny Blum, German Soccer player




  • Khalid El-Masri
  • Ibrahim El-Zayat a European Muslim activist in Germany and has been a functionary in many important Islamic organizations in Germany, Europe, and Saudi Arabia.










  • Bassam Tibi a political scientist and Professor of International Relations[54]


  • Pierre Vogel (born 1978), also known as Abu Hamza[55] (Arabic: أبو حمزة‎), German Salafi Islamist[56] preacher and former professional boxer


  • Linda Wenzel, a German schoolgirl who went missing in 2016 after converting to Islam and joining Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[57]

German Orientalists[edit]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]