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 about half of the people from the Muslim World aren't 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.


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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]


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: 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 Pakistani origin. The Ahmadiyya Muslim 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.[25]
  • 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.

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. 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 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. However, the problem still exists 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.

Construction of mosques and other projects[edit]

The construction of mosques is occasionally hampered by hostile 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.[26]

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".[27]

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.[28]

Concerns of 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.[29][30][31] 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.[32]

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).[33]

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.[34] 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."[34] 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.[34] 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.[34]

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,[35][36] 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."[35][36] 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.[37]

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%).[38]

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.[38]

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.





Khedira playing for the Germany national football team.





Aydan Özoğuz 2013 in Hamburg


  • Bassam Tibi a political scientist and Professor of International Relations[39]


  • Pierre Vogel (born 1978), also known as Abu Hamza[40] (Arabic: أبو حمزة‎), German Salafi Islamist[41] 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[42]

German Orientalists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center. 12 April 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "Rauf Ceylan: Muslims in Germany: Religious and Political Challenges and Perspectives in the Diaspora,
  3. ^ "Census reveals German population lower than thought". BBC News. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  4. ^ of BAMF 14. December 2016, retrieved 15. December 2016
  5. ^,,4419533,00.html
  6. ^ Frank Gesemann. "Die Integration junger Muslime in Deutschland. Interkultureller Dialog - Islam und Gesellschaft Nr. 5 (year of 2006). Friedrich Ebert Foundation, on p. 8 - the document is written in German
  7. ^ REMID Data of "Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst" retrieved 16 January 2015
  8. ^ a b "Religionszugehörigkeit Bevölkerung Deutschland" (PDF) (in German). Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (2009). "Muslimisches Leben in Deutschland 2008", pp 11, 80
  10. ^ "Germany". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  11. ^ "Kartenseite: Muslime in Deutschland - Landkreise". 2017-04-05. Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  12. ^ a b "Mitgliederzahlen: Islam", in: Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst|Religionswissenschaftliche Medien- und Informationsdienst e. V. (Abbreviation: REMID), Retrieved 24 January 2016
  13. ^ State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities. Sweden, Great Britain and Germany Archived 19 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine., "Muslims in German History until 1945", Jochen Blaschke
  14. ^ Frederick the Great's Army Albert Seaton. Islam and Muslims in Germany. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-151-5
  15. ^ Islamischer Friedhof am Columbiadamm
  16. ^ Sam Roberts (December 2010). "Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  17. ^ "Rauf Ceylan: Immigration and Socio-Spatial Segregation - Opportunities and Risks of Ethnic Self-Organisation,
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Mitgliederzahlen: Islam", in: Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst|Religionswissenschaftliche Medien- und Informationsdienst e. V. (Abbreviation: REMID), Retrieved 27 January 2016
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Anzahl der Muslime in Deutschland nach Glaubensrichtung im Jahr 2015* (in 1.000)", in: Statista GmbH, Retrieved 27 January 2016
  20. ^ "Was ist "Ahmadiyyat"?", in: Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Germany Website, Retrieved 27 January 2016
  21. ^ "Mosque construction continues with community support: Ahmadi Muslim leader, Retrieved 22 July 2016
  22. ^ "Zahl der Salafisten steigt unaufhörlich", Retrieved 16 September 2017
  23. ^ Der Tagesspiegel: Moschee in Wilmersdorf: Mit Kuppel komplett, 29 August 2001, Retrieved 27 January 2016
  24. ^ "Old Faultlines". The Economist. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  25. ^ Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosques Around the World, pg. 44
  26. ^ "Germany". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-29.  See drop-down essay on "Religious Freedom in Germany"
  27. ^
  28. ^ Jan Felix Engelhardt, "On Insiderism and Muslim Epistemic Communities in the German and US Study of Islam", The Muslim World No 4, 2016, p. 740-758
  29. ^ Liljeberg Research International: Deutsch-Türkische Lebens und Wertewelten 2012 Archived 11 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine., July/August 2012, p. 67
  30. ^ Die Welt: Türkische Migranten hoffen auf muslimische Mehrheit, 17 August 2012, retrieved 23 August 2012
  31. ^ The Jewish Press: In Germany, Turkish Muslims Hope for Muslim Majority, 27 August 2012, retrieved 27 September 2012
  32. ^ Deutsche Welle: "Why Germans distrust Islam" by Ulrike Hummel January 21, 2013
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b c d *German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013
  35. ^ a b Germany bans group accused of Hamas links, Ynet 07.12.10
  36. ^ a b Germany outlaws IHH over claimed Hamas links, Haaretz 12.07.10
  37. ^ "Germany IHH e.V. ban shameful, illegal, says group leader". Today's Zaman. 14 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  38. ^ a b Frank Gesemann. "Die Integration junger Muslime in Deutschland. Interkultureller Dialog - Islam und Gesellschaft Nr. 5 (year of 2006). Friedrich Ebert Stiftung", on p. 9 - the document is written in German
  39. ^ Antisemitism | Voices on Antisemitism | Transcript Archived June 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ The Christian Science Monitor. "German universities move to train next generation of imams". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  41. ^ "Protests in northern German city against Salafist preacher Vogel". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  42. ^ Larson, Taylor (2017-08-04). "BREAKING FOOTAGE Shows the Arrest of 16 Year Old ISIS Sniper Linda Wenzel, a German Schoolgirl". Squawker. Retrieved 2017-08-19. 

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]