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> A Brief History of The Berlin Muslim Mission
(Germany) (1922-1988) -- Compiled by Nasir Ahmad
Articles Section > A Brief History of The Berlin Muslim Mission (Germany) (1922-1988) -- Compiled by Nasir Ahmad B.A., LL.B.
Brief History of The Berlin Muslim Mission (Germany)
Imams and Others:
01. Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, Founder and Imam (1922)
Before I proceed to give a brief history about how the Berlin Muslim Mission and the Mosque came into existence, it is necessary to give a brief historical background of the need to propagate Islam in Germany. This will enable the reader to assess the prospects available for the propagation of Islam on the eve of the birth of the Berlin Mission. It will also give a review of the individual efforts which were going on in the country and how the Ahmadiyya Movement, Lahore, organised the propagation of Islam in Germany through the Berlin Muslim Mission.
It was in May 1922, that a well-known English daily of India, the Mohammadan, published an article captioned "The Need for the Propagation of Islam in Germany". Here we quote some of the ideas of the writer of this article:
"Among all the countries of Europe, there does not appear to be as much scope for the propagation of Islam as there is in Germany. She suffered defeat in the War (that is, the First World War), and now she is seriously thinking of re-building her future course in order to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. Everyone here is convinced that rebirth is not possible without following true religion. Christianity has met with complete failure. Germany is in a much better position to reach to the core of the veritable reality underlying false and baseless propaganda.... Germany is the centre of Europe and to achieve success here will have very healthy influence on the neighbouring countries....
These ideas very explicitly plead that:
1. Germany was the most appropriate country in Europe for the propagation of Islam.
Here I must give a brief introduction of the writer of the article, Professor Abdus Sattar Kheri, and his brother, Professor Abdul Jabbar. The Kheri brothers will be mentioned frequently in this report; firstly, for the initial interest they showed in the setting up of the Berlin Muslim Mission, and secondly, for the hostility they later developed towards it.
Professor Abdul Jabbar, in his individual capacity, cherished hopes for the propagation of Islam even before the Berlin Muslim Mission was set up. It was in February 1920 that he happened to meet a German Muslim, Dr. Khalid Banning, and seriously pondered on the prospects of setting up a mission in Berlin. Meanwhile, he got some letters written to Woking by a German lady, strongly suggesting for the opening of a mission in Berlin on the pattern of the Woking Muslim Mission in England. At that time Maulana Mustafa Khan was the Imam of the Mosque at Woking. Then Professor Abdul Jabbar worked out a plan to set up a mission in Berlin with the assistance of the German lady. He sent this plan to Woking and from there it reached Lahore. The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore carefully considered the scope and feasibility of the plan and accepted it. Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali, the then Head of the Lahore Section, made a special appeal for donations during the Annual Conference in December 1921 for the opening of missions both in America and Germany.
In March 1922, the Anjuman decided to send Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Maulvi Abdul Majid M.A. (of Hyderabad Deccan), a teacher in the Muslim High School, Lahore, to Germany. Later on Maulvi Abdul Majid was appointed Imam of the Mosque at Woking (England).
Maulvi Abdul Majid left for Germany with Mian Ghulam Abbas on June 7, 1922. The latter stayed on in England for higher Studies in Audit and Accounts. Later he rose to the status of first Auditor General of Pakistan. After retirement he was given an assignment at the UNO. For initial eight or nine months, Maulvi Abdul Majid worked in Germany single-handedly. During this period, Hazrat Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (Founder of the Woking Muslim Mission, England) visited Berlin in July/August 1922 in order to assess the situation for the setting up of the Mission. He sent to the Central Anjuman in Lahore his detailed report which also contained a proposal for the construction of a mosque. The following is an extract from his report:
"As compared to England, there is far greater educational taste and liking over here.... Educational institutions of this country are well-known throughout the world for their high standard of knowledge and research. Keeping in view the advanced knowledge in the fields of economics, philosophy of ethics, philosophy of civilisation and culture and various other fields, we have to establish that teachings of Islam not only provide basic guidance about these fields of knowledge, but it is much more sublime."
According to Hazrat Khwaja, the effective way to approach the students in this country was through lectures and discussions. Meanwhile, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din arrived in Berlin and the search for a suitable site for constructing the Mission House and the Mosque was started. From October 1922 onward, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali started his fund-raising campaign for the Berlin Mosque through lectures and appeals published in the weekly Paigham-i Sulh, Lahore. Meanwhile Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Maulvi Abdul Majid carried on their Islamic activities from Gotesbacht Street, 5/111 Garbortenberg, Berlin.
On the other hand, the Kheri brothers, who had so far been persuading the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore to set up a mission in Berlin on the pattern of that in Woking for the preaching of Islam in Germany, took up cudgels from December 1922 to oppose the project tooth and nail. Their third brother, Abdul Ghaffar Kheri, through the daily Khilafat, Bombay and Ahl-i Hadith, Amritsar and Delhi, expressed resentment and accused the Ahmadiyya Anjuman in Lahore of foiling the efforts of their brother, Professor Abdul Jabbar Kheri by setting up of a mission themselves. So, he tried to mislead the Muslims by writing:
"Any assistance given to this Ahmadiyya sect which has made an appeal for a mosque, would result in discord and division among the Muslims because this sect would present Islam according to its own faith and ideology."
Likewise, Mr. Abdul Ghaffar Kheri published articles against the Mission in the daily Zamindar of Lahore. Not content with this, Mr. Rashid-ul-Kheri even went to the extent of labelling the proposed mosque as Masjid-i Zarrar, which meant that this mosque was being built to cause disruption among the Muslims. With scant regard for this opposition, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Maulvi Abdul Majid continued their search for a suitable site. They also met the Muslim ambassadors and delegates in Berlin in this connection. The Ambassador of Turkey highly encouraged the Maulana and assured him of all possible help for the construction and continued to support him up to the stage of the completion of the Mosque.
In January 1923, the Maulana also met the Ambassador of Turkey in Rome in this connection. The meeting proved to be fruitful in many respects. At the time of the meeting, the English translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali was lying on the table. In the course of conversation, the Ambassador spoke highly of the English translation and also lauded the work being done in England through the Woking Muslim Mission.
During this period, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Maulvi Abdul Majid started learning the German language from a new German Muslim , Mr. Muhammad Brokash. The missionary work continued from the temporary office in Garborstenberg. In May 1923, tarawih prayers were offered at this place during the month of Ramadan.
The Eid al-Fitr prayer was offered at the mosque in Winsterdof, which was ninety minutes journey from Berlin by rail. This mosque was built by the German Government for prisoners of war. It could accommodate as many as 3000 people The Imam of this mosque, Hafiz Shukari Amandi, strongly favoured the construction of the proposed mosque in Berlin. The Imam delivered the sermon in Turkish. Most of the people who offered prayers were from Bokhara and Turkey.
In July 1923, a two-acre parcel of land belonging to the local Municipal Committee was purchased. The land was situated in a posh area. Its importance can be judged from the fact that the construction of a church was first proposed on this land, but as God Almighty would have it, the proposal could not materialise and the same land was purchased for the construction of the Mosque. It was Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din's earnest desire to construct the Mosque on this particular piece of land and he strove hard for it so that the Mosque and the Mission could benefit from the importance of the site. The site was surrounded on three sides by roads, while there were lush green gardens on its fourth side. The land was, in all respects, best-suited and ideal for the Mosque.
Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din now started to think about the construction plan for the Mission House and the Mosque. Keeping in view the Mogul architecture exhibited by the Taj Mahal at Agra and the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, work on the plan made steady progress. At this juncture, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din met a Russian scholar, Mr. Lutfe Bey.
The building plan of the mosque was completed in September 1923 and was sent to Lahore so that Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali could bless it with his formal approval.
Earlier, in October of the same year, the Maulana had delivered a comprehensive and thought-provoking lecture on "Philosophy of Islam" at a convention held at Darum Straat presided over by a renowned German philosopher, Count Newling.
In November 1924, preparations for the stone-laying ceremony of the Mosque were in progress. The Ambassador of Turkey was to be the chief guest. An unknown Egyptian student, on the instigation of the Kheri Brothers, created mischief by accusing Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, through a handbill, of being a spy of the British Government. The Ambassador of Turkey therefore expressed his inability to preside over the ceremony. It had to be postponed, but the construction work on the Mosque continued without interruption.
In order to counteract this malicious insinuation, a meeting was held at the temporary Mission House in which it was resolved to send a delegation to His Excellency Sami Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador. But afterwards, Dr. Abdul Hassan Mansur, who was a scholar in the Turkish, Russian and English languages, was deputed to wait upon the said Ambassador. He apprised His Excellency of the true facts underlying the false propaganda regarding the Berlin Mosque and dispelled the latter's reservations. Dr. Nasirbuk of the Turkish Club, too, played an important role in clearing the baseless doubts lurking in the mind of the Turkish Ambassador.
The efforts for the propagation of Islam through the Woking Muslim Mission and then by the Berlin Muslim Mission, coupled with the construction of a grand mosque in Berlin, went a long way in highlighting the services rendered to Islam by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore. The Muslim Outlook, of Lahore in its issue of February 4, 1925, published a lengthy editorial note in appreciation of the services rendered by the Anjuman. Some excerpts from it are reproduced below:
"Besides this, another Anjuman which is working fervently on a higher scale is the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore which is associated with the Ahmadiyya Sect.... But there is not a single instance to our knowledge that a resolution passed by Jamiat-i Ulama Hind brought a non-Muslim into the fold of Islam, whereas, on the other side, the marvellous English rendering of the Holy Quran done and published by the President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam has gone so far as to open the doors of Islam to many of the non-Muslim critics and atheists.
The construction work of the Mosque was in progress. Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din received invitations to deliver lectures on various aspects of Islam from different organisations. In February and March 1925, two very remarkable lectures were delivered near Berlin in the village of Postram on the subjects, "Islam and Christianity" and "Equality and Democracy in Islam". The new German Muslim, Dr. Griffelt, and Dr. Zakir Hussain of Jamiah Milliyyah, Aligarh took active part in the discussions of these meetings. Detailed reports of these lectures, with photographs of the Berlin Mosque, were published in the local newspapers.
In April 1925, a reception was arranged in honour of a well-known Muslim preacher, Professor Barkat Ullah so that the effects of the vicious propaganda launched by the Kheri brothers and other opponents against the Mission and the Mosque could be dispelled. The said Professor was well-versed in the Arabic, Persian, Turkish and German languages. He had toured China, Japan and America a number of times. Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din had been introduced to him in Switzerland during the Lausanne Conference. This conference was attended by many German Muslims such as Dr. Khalid Banning, Dr. Hamid Marcus, Dr. Griffelt, Dr. Muhammad Brackish and also by Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan Bhatti. The latter used to publish a magazine in Persian and German. Because of this conference, the construction of the Mosque and the activities of the Mission were amply highlighted in the Press.
The cost of the construction of the Mosque rose higher than the original estimate and it was becoming hard to meet the excess through donations. Hence urgent payments were made by disposing off a portion of the land.
Before the construction of the Mosque was completed, a top-ranking Geman scholar, Dr. Hamid Marcus had embraced Islam. He had a good command over the English language. The well-known poet and philosopher of Indo-Pakistan fame Dr. Muhammad Iqbal had also spoken highly of this German scholar.
In April 1925 main work of the Mosque was nearing completion. By now the vile propaganda of the opponents had completely failed. False and malicious reports sent to the Government were thoroughly examined through its embassy in Calcutta and were found to be baseless and malicious. Finally suspicion created in the minds of the Government authorities was dispelled. The German Government consequently issued orders for the deportation of the Egyptian student. A German citizen was issued stern warning and action was taken against other miscreants. All this on the part of the Government went a long way in removing many of the hurdles and created a wholesome atmosphere in favour of the Mission.
By the grace of Allah, the auspicious moment arrived. The opening ceremony of the Berlin Mosque was held on April 26, 1925. The event started with the recitation from the Holy Quran by Khwaja Abdul Hamid, a student of the Berlin University. Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din delivered a brief speech in German. The Russian Muslim scholar, Luferbe Qasmi, threw light on the Ahmadiyya Movement in Turkish. He had already witnessed the activities of the Woking Muslim Mission in London and was convinced that the name of Islam was being raised high in England through the Mission. Dr. Idris Bokhari then stressed upon the importance of "Islamic Brotherhood" in Turkish. Another learned brother from Iran Hassan Bey, speaking in Persian, condemned sectarianism as a curse and laid stress on the necessity of strengthening bonds of mutual tolerance and brotherhood. Professor Abdul Hakim of Hyderabad Deccan read out a beautiful poem. An Iranian Prince explained Islamic teachings in German. At the end, Hazrat Maulana paid tribute to the honesty and integrity of the German architects and contractors. Thus the historic event came to an end with prayers. The Turkish Ambassador and his staff took a keen interest and actively participated in organising the opening ceremony.
It was Eid al-Fitr on the following Friday, but it was feared that Mr. Abdul Jabbar Kheri would try to forcibly lead the prayer which would result in disorder and disturb the atmosphere of cohesion created among the Muslims with the setting up of the Mission and the construction of the Mosque. Hence, the Turkish Ambassador and other well-wishers mutually agreed that the Eid congregation should be held at the Turkish Embassy. The Police appreciated the wise step and Mr. Abdul Jabbar's entry into the Mosque was forbidden. Thus by the Grace of Allah and with the co-operation of the Turkish Embassy and other right-thinking Muslims, an untoward event was averted and the sanctity of the mosque was preserved. After this, detailed information and photographs relating to the Mosque started appearing in the local press and cinemas.
An outstanding personality of Turkey, the Honble Amir Shakieb Arsalan, on returning home made a vigorous public speech introducing the Berlin Muslim Mission and lauded its efforts directed towards the propagation of Islam. On the front page of the daily Tawhid-i Afkar of Istanbul, Turkey appeared details of the activities of the Mission along with photographs of the Mosque and an introduction of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore. The achievements made by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din in the field of preaching Islam in England were also greatly appreciated. A copy of this newspaper was left by a Turkish brother in the Mission House in the absence of the Imam. On this paper he wrote the following three lines in his own hand:
1. Sadaqa al-laahul Azim (Allah, the Great, spoke the truth).
Towards the end of May 1925, the Maulana left Berlin for his homeland. On the eve of his departure, the German Muslim Society gave a farewell party in his honour. On his way back, he met Hakim Muhammad Ajmal Khan in Paris and apprised him of the activities of the Mission and the Mosque and sought his help in raising funds for them. Maulana Sadr-ud-Din was accorded a rousing welcome on his arrival at the Lahore railway station. A reception was also arranged at the Ahmadiyya Buildings. Maulana Muhammad Ali, Sheikh Niaz Ahmad (Barrister-at-Law) and Syed Sardar Shah (Ex-Professor, Veterinary College, Lahore) addressed the gathering. The excitement of the German Muslim converts on the construction of the Mosque was inspiring. An old lady, named Gardowas, who had embraced Islam, saw in a dream that the Mosque had been completed and light was being diffused from it in all directions. She particularly appealed to the womenfolk to fervently take part in this sacred task. Maulana Muhammad Ali, in his appeal in Lahore, made a special mention of the letter written by this German lady.
The daily Shafaq-i Surkh of Tehran carried an editorial note on the efforts made by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore, for the preaching of Islam. The translation of some of its excerpts is given below:
"The centre of the "Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam" is in Lahore (India) and for the propagation of Islam its branches are spread over India, Burma and other Eastern countries. The Anjuman is making strides day by day.... The Anjuman has appointed many of its preachers in Europe and America for the propagation of Islam. All those who are associated with the Anjuman and its supporters are mostly religious people of the Ahmadiyya ideology. It is the result of their high spirit and enthusiasm that a mosque at Woking (near London) has become vibrant centre for the preaching of Islam whose photographs and activities are published in the English papers. Now under the auspices of the same Anjuman, a mosque has been built in the city of Berlin, which is so grand that it is considered among the best worship places in Berlin. Five million liras have been spent on its construction so far.
in German, Muslimisch Revue:
about the Mosque:
The main structure of the Mosque was nearing completion, but still some work remained to be done on the minarets, the dome and other ornamental works to enhance the beauty of the Mosque. At this stage, Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din sent the following telegraphic message to the Jamaat:
"Our Community should be proud of this remarkable achievement. I congratulate you all - the old and the young, the rich and the poor - for it is due to your concerted efforts, sacrifices and fervent prayers, that such a milestone has been accomplished about which some had doubts and at times, insurmountable difficulties created dismay and hopelessness. But by the grace of Almighty Allah, the major task of the plan has been accomplished today. All of us should be grateful to Allah for blessing our humble efforts in His cause."
In this connection, the following letter of the Maulana from Berlin was read out on December 27, 1924, on the occasion of the Annual Conference in Lahore:
"The purpose of this Mosque is not only to serve Muslims as a house of worship but also to invite non-Muslims of Berlin to attend its lectures and sermons. Thus, it was essential to plan quite a spacious mosque. All praise be to Allah that the plan has been accomplished and a very suitable and beautiful Mosque has been built in Berlin. It is ideal as far as its size, structural beauty and location is concerned."
As has already been mentioned, the initial estimate of the construction of the Berlin Mosque was fifty to sixty thousand Rupees, but afterwards, due to unforeseen circumstances, the cost rose to one hundred thousand Rupees. So, in early 1924, when the minarets of the Mosque had not yet been completed, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali sent a message to Maulana Sadr-ud-Din to postpone the work on the minarets for the time being. Meanwhile, vigorous efforts were made to raise funds for the Berlin Mosque. Special appeals by Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali were sent to the members of the Jamaat throughout India.
At the Annual Conference held in Lahore in December 1924, special efforts were made to collect funds for the Mosque. In his speech on the first day of the Conference - which was for ladies - Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali mentioned with much concern that the work on the minarets of the Berlin Mosque had to be suspended due to shortage of funds. In his passionate speech he addressed the ladies in these words:
"Many of our sisters in the Jamaat may think that the fact that their husbands or elders take part in religious service also suffices for them. But this is not correct. Just as the good deeds of the husband will not be of any use to the wife, similarly his voluntary contributions will not be of any good to the wife. In the Holy Quran where there is a mention of the alms-giving men, the women who give alms are also mentioned .... Allah has imposed the duty of religious service on women as well as on men. The women of our Jamaat should bear in mind that no matter how much their husbands serve the religion, if they do not take any part in it themselves they are as unfortunate as any other woman who does not help."
As a result of this appeal, all the women present took off their jewellery and presented them for the propagation of Islam and their men-folk contributed the rest of the required sum of money. And thus completion of the remaining work of the Berlin Mosque became possible.
The names of the ladies and gentlemen who made generous contributions towards the construction of the Berlin Mosque on this occasion are mentioned below as a matter of record for future generations to know how zealous their elders were in serving the cause of Islam.
Mrs. Maulana Muhammad Ali, Mother and wife of Dr. Mirza Yakub Beg, Mrs. Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain Shah, Mrs. Dr. Ghulam Muhammad, Mrs. Dr. Syed Tufail Hussain Shah, Mrs. K. S. Babu Manzoor Ilahi, Mrs. Ch. Zahoor Ahmad and Mrs. Khwaja Jalal-ud-Din. The total value of the collection made on this occasion was Rs. 7300.00, of which Rs. 2500 was received in cash while Rs. 4800 was in the form of jewellery
In this regard the following ladies from other parts of the country also made significant contributions: Mrs. Ch. Muhammad Ismail (Revenue Officer), his daughter and sister-in-law (Montgomery), Mrs. Dr. Jalal-ud-Din (Gojra), Mrs. Sh. Maula Bakhsh (Sialkot), Master Muhammad Ismail (Sialkot), Mrs. Qazi Samiullah (Sargodha), Mrs. Sh. Abdul Wahid (Police Officer) (Abuhr), Daughter of Munshi Muhammad Bakhsh (Chak No. 355, Sargodha), Mrs. Sh. Maqbul Ilahi (Sheikhupura), Mrs. Syed Ahmad Hussain Shah (Hoshiarpur), Mrs. Babu Dilawar Khan (Peshawar) and Mrs. Mistri Yakub Ali (Jammu).
The ladies of the following Jamaats contributed collectively towards the fund: Lyallpur, Chak No. 81 (Sargodha), Qasur, Lahore Cantt., Gujrat, Chak 2 and 4 L (Okara), Mardan, Kunjah, Wazirabad and Charsaddah. A non-Ahmadi lady sister of Muhammad Umar Barumi from Atman Zai contributed Rs. 400.00.
Collections made by delegates sent to various parts of the country: Qazi Sami Ullah (Rs.5501), Mehr Khan Muhammad Khan, Inspector police (Rs. 100), Sh. Abdul Wahid, Sub-Inspector police (Rs.2400), Malik Ghulam Muhammad, Central Flour Mills, Qasur (Rs.500).
Contributions made by non-Ahmadi supporters: Nawab Ahmad Yar, Rais Luddon (Rs.1000), Ch. Shahab-ud-Din, Rais Lahore (Rs. 1000), Sardar Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari, Jahaniyan, Distt. Dera Ghazi Khan (Rs.800), Honble Sir Muzammil Khan, Rais, Distt. Aligarh (Rs.500).
Maulana Fazal Karim
In May 1925, he took charge of the Berlin Muslim Mission after Maulana Sadr-ud-Din returned to Lahore, India. Meetings of the German Muslim Society were held regularly, in which Dr. Hamid Marcus and other new German Muslims gave learned discourses on various aspects of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Some of the topics were "Materialism and Spirituality", "The Importance of the Excellent Example of the Holy Prophet in the Present Age" etc.
The Mission House in Berlin was not yet complete when a notice was issued by the City Corporation to complete the construction work. Thus further funds were immediately required for this urgent work. As a result, Maulana Muhammad Ali again made the following fervent appeal in the Paigham-i Sulh of November 1925:
"Rise for the Berlin Mosque
For this purpose, a special list of the persons, to whom this letter was to be sent, was prepared, so that the required sum of money could be collected as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain Shah and Dr. Mirza Yaqub Beg continued to tour various parts of the country for the collection of funds to cover the cost of the immediate construction work at the Berlin Mosque and other expenses. As a result of their efforts, the Begum of the state of Bhopal donated a sum of five thousand Rupees. Strong appeals by Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain Shah were also published in the weekly Paigham-i Sulh.
As a result of the activities of the Berlin Muslim Mission, the message of Islam was effectively conveyed to the intellectual circles in Germany and, one by one, people entered the fold of Islam. The Hiedel University of Germany is almost as famous as the University of Cambridge in England. One of its learned directors, Hans Loba, accepted Islam.
Maulana Fazal Karim Durrani kept receiving invitations from different quarters to deliver lectures about the Ahmadiyya Movement which were followed by question-answer discussions. Afterwards, he wrote a series of articles on the Ahmadiyya Movement in the Muslimisch Revue. These were later published in English in the form of a book entitled The Ahmadiyya Movement. Two thousand copies of this book were printed in December 1926.
The services of the Berlin Mission and the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, Lahore, for the cause of Islam were being appreciated in Muslim countries. In one of its editorial notes in December 1928, the daily Iqdam of Tehran, the following tributes were paid to the Berlin Mission:
"The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore has constructed a magnificent mosque in the city of Berlin, Germany, which holds an eminent position among the buildings of the city. It was constructed two or three years ago and the work of preaching and propagating the teachings of Islam is done here. More than a hundred people from different walks of life have entered the fold of Islam, of which the most famous is Dr. Hamid Marcus. An Islamic periodical, Muslimisch Revue, is also published in German."
One million zealous Slav Muslims were living in Yugoslavia. Due to the endeavours of the Mission, they started getting Croatian translation of the articles of the Muslimisch Revue and excerpts from the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali.
In June 1927, Maulana Fazal Karim Durrani expressed his thought-provoking views in an article entitled "Islam in Europe" on the method to be employed in propagating Islam in Europe and the need of understanding intellectual inclinations of the European people. Some excerpts from it are given below:
"In political terms, we, in the East, may describe Europe as a continent which is determined to keep the rest of the continents under its control, but when a person becomes acquainted with the various nations of Europe he comes to the conclusion that people of different races and nations live here: united Europe has no existence. So the methods which were successfully employed for the propagation of Islam in England cannot necessarily be successful here.
In August 1927, Maulana Durrani, in his reports sent to Lahore, expressed his views on two important aspects of the Ahmadiyya Movement:
1. Why did the Reformer of the Age Appear in India?
He highlighted different aspects of the preaching of Islam in Europe with special emphasis on the importance of the following points:
During the same period, Maulana Durrani wrote strong and pithy articles in the Muslimisch Revue in reply to the objections raised against Islam by a well-known German scholar and Minister of Education, Prof. Pecker.
Translation of the
Holy Quran into German:
"I am fully conscious of the fact that there are already a great many burdens on this small Jama'at. But I also believe that Divine assistance is only granted when some difficult task is undertaken. So I am happy that through the fervent encouragement of a respected friend of ours, a concerted move to get the Holy Quran translated into German has begun. The establishment of a mission in Germany, the publication of a quarterly magazine and the construction of a mosque at the cost of around a hundred thousand Rupees - all these have been possible due to His special grace and blessings. When our Jama'at started this work, Allah, Most High, opened the doors of His Help in many ways. Obviously all that has been done over there so far is incomplete until we provide those people with the Holy Quran in their own language."
Hence, efforts were made to find a suitable person for the translation work. Finally Dr. Abul Hassan Mansoor, Ph.D., of the Berlin University was selected. He was editor of a magazine, Deutsch Muslimisch Girschaft, published from Berlin. He arrived in Lahore in March 1928.
Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din used to prepare translation and commentary of the Holy Quran in English. Then Dr. Mansoor would translate them into German. In this manner the translation of the Holy Quran in German was completed under the supervision of Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din in February 1934. While the translation work was being done, Syed Mustafa Ahmad, a zealous member of the Jamaat, donated four hundred Rupees every month for the translation work, for a period of two years. In this manner, in all, he donated a sum of ten thousand Rupees. Some financial difficulties were encountered during the last stages of the work. However, Maulana Sadr-ud-Dins appeal and generous contributions of certain members of the Jama`at enabled him to get it published in Berlin.
Members of the Jamaat contributed generously towards the German translation of the Holy Quran. Several people outside the Jamaat also gave financial support towards this important religious publication, among which a donation of Rs. 500 by the Princess of Manavar is worthy of mention.
In connection with the printing of the German translation, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din went to Berlin again in April 1937. He completed all the arrangements for the printing in a period of nine months and returned in December 1937. The supervision of proof reading and printing was done very diligently by Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. At the end of 1937, for about six months, during the absence of Dr. Abdullah, Dr. Nazeer-ul-Islam served as Acting Imam of the Mosque and also looked after the proof-reading and printing of the Translation. Finally, in June 1939, by the Grace and Mercy of Allah, this Translation was printed at a cost of Rs. 15,000 and came out of press in August 1939.
The Translation was greatly appreciated in German circles. One German scholar expressed his opinion in the following words:
"This Translation has not only fulfilled a long-felt educational and religious need but it has also ensured that its dissemination will greatly spread and popularise the knowledge of the Quran and the teachings of Islam."
Unfortunately, only a month after the publication of this Translation, on September 3, 1939, the Second World War broke out and the bombing of Berlin by the planes of the Allied forces not only damaged the dome and minarets of the Mosque but also destroyed the entire stock of the German translation of the Holy Quran, except for a few copies. After almost twenty-five years, in 1965, two thousand copies of its off-set edition were published in Pakistan. A sum of Rs. 20,000 was donated for it by a generous lady of Multan. Mrs. Sheikh Ataullah. The stock of this edition was also soon exhausted. In 1982, a famous German publishing firm, Sea Benztryn, decided to reprint the German Translation of the Quran. For this purpose, it obtained the opinions of several scholars of the Al-Azhar University and also of some German scholars about the authenticity and the standard of the translation and commentary and received their satisfactory opinion on all counts. Then the firm contacted the Central Ahmadiyya Anjuman in Lahore through the Imam of the Berlin Mosque, Maulana Yahya Butt to obtain its formal approval. Unfortunately, for certain reasons, agreement could not be reached.
Sadly, Maulana Fazal Karim Durrani spent fairly large sums of money on the Mosque without the prior consent of the Central Anjuman. When the Anjuman questioned his unilateral decision, he decided to return home and, without awaiting the arrival of funds from the Anjuman, on May 16, 1928, he mortgaged the Mission House and the courtyard of the Mosque for sixteen thousand German Marks with the Theoranx Lands High Perthen Bank. Afterwards, he became annoyed and published several articles in the newspaper, Paisa Akhbar of Lahore, under the title "Letters from Germany" presenting uterly wrong and misleading information about his unwise act and tried to defame the Anjuman. Maulana Dost Muhammad, editor of the weekly paper Paigham-i Sulh, replied to it under the title Kashaf al-Ghita in its issues of the 8th, 12th, 15th and 19th of June, 1928. The dispute was taken to the court and finally, in February 1933, Maulana Durrani admitted his mistake and subitted his written apology.
In October 1928, Maulana Durrani returned to Lahore and joined the editorial staff of the Muslim Outlook. Then he started a monthly by the name of Muslim India. In 1928, he wrote a throught-provoking book, The Future of Islam in India. In 1930, he founded Tablighi Literature Society and published a weekly called The Truth. During the same period Quaid-i Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah came to Lahore. A meeting was arranged to resolve the differences between him and Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal. Maulana Durrani played a pivotal role in removing the misunderstandings which had existed between the two since 1928. (Creation of Pakistan by Justice Shamim Hussain Qadri, published by the Army Book Club,1983, p.90.)
After this, in 1937, Maulana Durrani published a booklet of 16 pages entitled Muslim National Ideal. The well-known writer and research scholar, K.K.Aziz in his book, A History of the Idea of Pakistan, (1987) has devoted six pages to Maulana Durranis contribution in expounding the idea of Pakistan. He has even remarked that Maulana Durranis book, The Future of Islam in India, influenced the thinking of the Quaid-i Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal. The latter, in his Allahabad Address of 1930, expounded the same ideas which were expressed by Maulana Durrani in his book in 1929. (pp.160-167)
While commending the ideas of Maulana Durrani, the author, K.K. Aziz, paid tribute to him in the following words:
"The Muslim League and the Muslim Conference . . . neither supported Durrani Sahibs views nor did they adopt them, one possible reason for which was that he belonged to the Ahmadiyya Jamaat (Lahore). In todays Pakistan, these views would be considered as the views of a non-Muslim because, constitutionally, the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement have been thrown out of the fold of Islam ... But, he (Mr.Durrani) most successfully directed the attention of the people towards the need of saving Muslims from the domination of the Hindus ... This was a great service to the Muslims of India. It must be said with deep regret that his service has not been acknowledged at all."
As has been mentioned earlier, the Mission incurred a debt of twenty thousand German Marks during the tenure of Maulana Durrani. To take his place, Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah set off for Berlin on March 28, 1928. In January 1930, various efforts were undertaken to pay off the mortgage against the Berlin Mosque. In September 1930, Dr. K.A. Khan, a devoted member of the Jamaat made 88 shares of Rs.125 each, that is, the sum of money for which the Berlin Mosque was mortgaged, and appealed to the people to buy these shares. After hard struggle and great monetary sacrifices of the members and supporters of the Jama`at for nearly two years, and the tireless efforts of Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the mortgage was finally paid off in November 1932.
Dr. S. Muhammad
The German Muslim Society was formed on March 22, 1930. Its officers were:
After arriving in Berlin, Dr. Muhammad Abdullah organised the Islamic activities of the Mission and reactivated the German Muslim Society which played an effective role in making the activities of the Mission known to Berlins educated circles. In the meetings arranged by this Society, Dr. Hamid Marcus and other new German Muslims delivered scholarly discourses on various topics. From time to time, Professor Mirza Hassan, a lecturer of Persian in the Berlin University, Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan Bhatti and Dr. Abul Hassan Mansur also delivered talks and took part in the discussions. Some of the subjects which were discussed at these meetings were:
Apart from this, on Fridays and Sundays, there was an arrangement for explaining the meaning of the Holy Quran to the new German Muslims and teaching them how to offer their ritual prayers. In January 1931, a well-known Egyptian periodical, Al-Lataif al-Musawwara published pictures of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali, the Mosque in Berlin and Babu Manzoor Ilahi, incharge of Foreign Correspondence Department at the Central Anjuman in Lahore along with the following remarks of the well-known scholar, Amir Shakieb Arsalan:
"This is a Mission of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya, Lahore, which has established a centre for its preaching in Germany. The Lahore Jamaat is distinct from the Qadian Jamaat."
Later on in the year 1931, the German Muslim Society arranged a tea party in honour of Allama Shakieb Arsalan on his visit to the Mosque. Among the distinguished guests who attended the party were the Afghan and Iranian ambassadors and the Minister of Education, Berlin, who appreciated the activities of the Jamaat for the propagation of Islam. This year, for the first time, an hour-long programme about Eid al-Fitr was broadcast on radio all over Germany. On this occasion, a Ph.D. student at the Munich University accepted Islam; she was given the Islamic name Safia. In June, Dr. Abdullah delivered lectures at the Theosophical Society and the American Church. In July, a meeting was held to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. In September, Dr. Abdullah attended the meeting of the executive committee of World Religions Conference at Geneva. The objective of the Conference was to arrange a special convention in 1932 on the subject, "The Spiritual Power of Religion can produce True Happiness and Peace in the World". The special feature of the Conference was that participants who could not attend it, would have their papers on the subject read out. Dr. Abdullah proposed the names of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali and Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal. On his way back, Dr. Abdullah met Allama Shakieb Arsalan.
This year, the Princes of Hyderabad Deccan were the guests of honour on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.
In July 1932, the German Muslim Society held a reception in honour of Dr. Mirza Aziz-ur-Rahman who obtained doctorate from the Berlin University. On this occasion, Dr. Hamid Marcus delivered a very illuminating lecture on "The Message of the Arabian Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for the People of Europe", in both German and English.
On 15th September, Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah delivered a remarkable lecture on the subject, "Women in Islam", at the Mission House. Entry was by ticket. Besides a large audience, the lecture was also attended by representatives of the local newspapers. The following report about the lecture was published in the local press:
"The Western woman has always wanted to know more about the Eastern woman. In order to fulfil this need, Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the Imam of the Berlin Mosque (who was also a professor in Lahore for five years) delivered an enlightened lecture, well-supported by logical arguments, in compliance with the wishes of the Ladies Organisation of Berlin. He began with the verses of the chapter, An-Nisa (The Women) of the Quran. The learned doctor explained that Islam gives married life precedence over celibacy and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has declared the nikah or marriage to be a Sunnah (Practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad). Then he emphasised that polygamy is conditional and is allowed only for specific reasons. He also cleared various misconceptions which prevail about pardah (or seclusion of woman), divorce etc. A large audience was present and the lecture was greatly appreciated."
The greatest success was achieved at the end of the year when the members of an aristocratic house of Austria, the Baron Umar Ehrenfels and his wife entered the fold of Islam. The Barons father was a Professor in the Berlin University. He himself was a journalist and lived in Hungary. By this time, a hundred people had accepted Islam and the following booklets had been published in the German language:
On the occasion of the Annual Conference of the Central Ahmadiyya Anjuman in Lahore in 1932, the Austrian Muslim, Baron Umar Ehrenfels, who had accepted Islam at the hand of Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in the beginning of the year, came to Lahore. He was accorded a splendid welcome at the Lahore Railway Station on December 24. The following people were present at the Railway Station:
01. Justice Sir Abdul Qadir (Judge of the Lahore High Court)
The honoured guest, accompanied by Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mian Ghulam Rasool Tamim, were taken to the Ahmadiyya Buildings in a motorcade. The honoured guest accompanied by Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mian Ghulam Rasool Tamim, arrived in was taken to the Ahmadiyya Buildings in a motor car.,
A short while after the arrival at the Ahmadiyya Buildings, the proceedings of the first session of the Conference were begun under the presidentship of Nawab Shah Nawaz Khan of Mamdot. After recitation from the Holy Quran, the well-known poet Abul Asar Hafeez Jalindhari. recited, in his characteristic lyrical style, his poem entitled "Welcome" (Khair Maqdam). His collection of poems Shahnama-i Islam, is a popular poetry book which highlights the glory of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and the golden deeds of the early Muslim stalwarts.
In the prelude, he said that he had composed the poem the night before in great haste while tears were streaming from his eyes.
The Poem "Welcome"
Congratulations to you for entering the fold of Islam.
When the recitation of the poem started, all those present were mesmerised by it and seemed to be transported into another world. There was complete silence all around, which was occasionally broken unintentionally by voices raised in adulation. Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, seated on the stage, swayed in appreciation, while tears streamed from Sir Abdul Qadirs eyes. The enchantment of the poem broke through the barriers of language, so that the Baron Umar also appeared to be impressed. Then Address of Welcome was delivered by the editor of The Light, Maulana Muhammad Yakub Khan.
On December 25, 1932, in the third session of the day, which was presided over by Sir Abdul Qadir, the honoured guest, Baron Umar Ehrenfels gave a brief history of the city of Berlin and described the background of its importance as the birth-place and nucleus of the Protestant faith. During his speech he mentioned that he had learnt about the Berlin Muslim Mission from the Grand Mufti of Yugoslavia, while travelling through the country.
The Young Men's Ahmadiyya Association, Lahore, arranged a tea-party in honour of the learned Austrian Muslim in the Habibia Hall of Islamia College, Lahore, on the evening of December 26. It was presided by Dr. Allah Bakhsh. The address of welcome was delivered by Dr. Aizad Bakhsh Sheikh M.A. Hakeem Ahmad Shuja, B.A. (Aligarh), Assistant Secretary of the Punjab Council, recited his poem entitled Tariq bin Ziyad" (The Conqueror of Spain).
Baron Umar was extended invitations by all the important organisations and elites of Lahore. After fulfilling his engagements in Lahore, he toured Delhi, Aligarh, Hyderabad and other big cities of India, in the company of Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. He was accorded warm welcome and great honour at many functions. In May 1933, Baron Umar returned to his homeland and established the Vienna Muslim Mission in Vienna - the capital of Austria, of which he remained in charge for some time.
Dr. Mirza Aziz-ur-Rahman did his B.Sc. in Chemistry at the Islamia College, Lahore and his M.Sc at the Aligarh University. Afterwards, he completed his Ph.D at the Berlin University. Just about that time, the President of the German Sufi Society, Allama Kazim Zada, visited the Berlin Mosque and appreciated the activities of the Mission. The same year, in July, a meeting was organised to celebrate the Birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad under the auspices of the German Muslim Society. For the first time, the Mosque and the Mission House were illuminated with candles in the traditional fashion. Meanwhile, the dars (lessons) of the Holy Quran continued on a regular basis.
Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah returned to Berlin in September 1933. In order to promote the bonds of unity love and fraternity among Muslim brothers living in Gernmany, Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations were held jointly under the auspices of Mu`tamar-i Islami. In Jauary 1934, for the first time, the Imam of the Berlin Mosque performed the marriage ceremondy of a German couple, who had already embraced Islam at his hand. They were named Abdullah Dayer and Fatima Adaresh. Justice Abdul Qadir of the Lahore High Court visited the Berlin Mosque along with his wife and stayed there for a few days. During their stay, a German gentleman accepted Islam and he was named Abdul Qadir.
For the first time in July 1934, the Imam of the Berlin Mosque appealed for funds for the repairs of the Mosque. A very generous response to this appeal came from Sheikh Aziz Ahmad, son of Al-Hajj Sheikh Niaz Ahmad, a wealthy leather merchant of Wazirabad and a devoted companion of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement.. Sheikh Aziz Ahmad had come to Germany to get advanced training in leather tanning. He was the owner of the well-known Punjab Tannery of Wazirabad. During his stay he frequently visited the Berlin Mosque.
In the beginning of this report, the opposition of the Kheri Brothers against the Berlin Mission, especially that of Abdul Jabbar Kheri, was mentioned. They had formed an organisation in Berlin by the name of Jamaat-i Islamia. Its secretary, Mr. Habib-ur-Rahman, started opposing the Berlin Mission by publishing several articles in the newspapers of Punjab such as daily Zamindar and Ihsan of Lahore. However, when Dr. Muhammad Abdullah sent a legal notice of defamation to the writer, he stopped his malicious propaganda.
In August 1934, a press in Lahore printed a beautiful calendar bearing a photograph of the Berlin Mosque with the English caption: "Light out of Darkness". During the same month, in a meeting organised by the German Muslim Society, Mr. Alan Bosfeld, a German Muslim, delivered a lecture entitled "Islam and National Socialism". By means of inspiring speeches delivered at the meetings of the German Muslim Society and learned articles published in the periodical Muslimisch Revue, the message of Islam was delivered to wider circle of people and more awareness about it spread in Europe.
In March 1937, Dr. Mirza Aziz-ur-Rahman, who had completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Berlin University, started preparations to return to his homeland. He delivered an extremely scholarly lecture on "The Future of Islam in Europe" in a meeting. On the 23rd March, the German Muslim Society held a farewell party in his honour, at which Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Dr. Devor Stunt, Mr. Abud Ibrahim Iraqi and Professor Tara Chand Roy Dehlavi greatly appreciated his learned contributions and services to the Berlin Mission.
On April 12, 1937, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din left for Berlin in order to finalise arrangement for the publication of the German translation of the Holy Quran.
On May 6, 1937, a reception was hosted by the German Muslim Society in honour of Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, in which Mr.Hikmat Bayar, Dr. Hamid Marcus and Professor Mirza Hassan Muallam praised his services to the religion of Islam. In the same month, the Birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad was celebrated in which Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din explained distinguishing features of the personality of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in a very impressive manner. In the month of July, in a meeting of the German Muslim Society, an excellent lecture on the topic "The Revelations of Prophets" was delivered by Baron Faun Horest, a new German Muslim. He explained how the teachings of the prophets instil a new life into their adherents. In this meeting, Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din read out some sections of the German translation of the Holy Quran. The participants became inspired at the news of the forth-coming German translation of the Quran and highly appreciated it. In September, Dr. Muhammad Abdullah went to India for six months. In his absence, the responsibilities of running the Mission were borne by Professor Dr. Nazeer-ul-Islam, Ph.D.
In October 1937, Baron Foltanec delivered a very interesting and informative lecture about the archaeological relics of Islam at the meeting of the German Muslim Society. On October 17, 1937, Sir Aga Khan came to visit the Berlin Mosque and expressed great pleasure when he saw the German translation of the Holy Quran. On October 22, the German Muslim Society called a special meeting to laud the great religious services of Maulana Sadr-ud-Din for the cause of Islam in Germany.
On January 17, 1938, a meeting was held under the presidentship of Sir Abdul Qadir at the Y.M.C.A Hall, Lahore, in which Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah delivered a splendid lecture on the subject "The Future of Islam in Europe". On January 20, Dr. Abdullah left for Makkah to perform the Hajj. After discharging this holy duty, he had two meetings with Syed Jamil Daud, the Foreign Secretary of Saudi Arabia, and informed him of the activities of the Berlin Mission. He also had a meeting with Shah Ibn Saud which was arranged by Maulana Ismail Ghaznavi.
In February 1938, the Eid al-Azha sermon was delivered by Dr. Nazeer-ul-Islam. A meeting of the German Muslim Society under the presidentship of Mr. Khalid Zuyler was held in the same month, in which Mr. R. H. Goltmaz, a secretary in the German Government, delivered a remarkable lecture on "The Influence of the Religions of the World on the Nations of the World". In April 1938, when Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah returned to Berlin, Dr. Nazeer-ul-Islam returned to his homeland.
On June 22, 1939, by the Grace and Blessings of Allah, the publication of the German translation of the Holy Quran was completed. On this occasion, in a special meeting, new German Muslims and others paid glowing tributes to the religious services rendered by Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in Germany.
Separate meetings for women were also held at that time under the auspices of the Mission, in which new German Muslim women took an active part. Most of the credit for organising these meetings went to Mrs. Mahmudah Abdullah.
The Second World
As the clouds of the Second World War loomed on the horizon, Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah became anxious about the future of the Mission because, being a British citizen, he would be compelled to leave Germany in case of war. At first, a German doctor and his wife volunteered to look after the Mosque and the Mission House and to bear their expenses, but soon the doctor had to join the armed forces and was killed in action and his wife also left the city. Finally, the responsibility of the Mosque and Mission House was entrusted to an energetic German Muslim lady, Mrs. Amina Mosler . In the past, she, too, had participated in the activities of the Society. She had already founded the Womens League through which she had done commendable welfare work in various fields of the society. This pious lady faithfully and courageously looked after the Mission during the War and kept the Mosque alive in the most difficult conditions.
The contact between Berlin and the Anjuman at Lahore was severed until the end of the War. At first Germany occupied almost the whole of Europe, but then she was gradually repulsed. The Allied and American aircraft launched vicious air-attacks on Berlin and most of the city was destroyed. The Mission House, the dome and minarets of the Mosque were badly damaged. Mrs. Amina Moslers residence was completely destroyed but she and her son stayed in Berlin and obtained help from different quarters in clearing the rubble from the area of the Mosque after the fighting ceased. For a few months Berlin was completely under the control of Russian troops. On Mrs. Amina Moslers call for help in cleaning and doing necessary repairs to the Mission House and the Mosque, the Russian representative sent twenty men for the job. But soon this part of Berlin came under the control of the British army. The determination, courage and sincerity with which Mrs. Amina Mosler selflessly worked for the Mosque, throughout this period, are reflected in this report by Reuters which was published on August 12, 1945, in the daily Dawn of Karachi. The Urdu translation of this report was published in the weekly Paigham-i Sulh of August 22, 1945 and is as follows:
Reuters News about
the Berlin Mosque:
"Berlin, August 12. Reuters correspondent writes from Berlin: The Berlin Mosque, which was built by Indian Muslim missionaries in 1927, has survived the war although it has suffered substantial damage and the dome has also received several blows.
In August 1945, when the news that the Berlin Mosque was safe was heard for the first time through Reuters, the President of the Anjuman in Lahore, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali, made an passionate appeal for funds for the repair of the Mosque in Paigham-i Sulh under the title "Congratulations to the Jamaat". Every single word of this appeal reflects the depth of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Alis zeal for the propagation of Islam. The pain and heart-felt anguish with which he pleads the members of the Jamaat to spend their wealth for the cause of elevating the name of God in the world is worth reading. The English translation of the text of the appeal is given below :
"Berlin has been destroyed - so utterly destroyed that the destruction of London and Warsaw and Stalingrad seem insignificant in comparison. Fire raged from its skies day and night. Hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped on it in succession for two or three years. At the end of this period, a vengeful nation ¾ who had suffered countless losses at the hands of Germany, whose towns and industries and agriculture had been turned into a barren waste by the German forces ¾ assailed Berlin and razed its buildings to the ground so that the on-lookers said that London was not ruined; it was Berlin that was destroyed. But today, Reuters correspondent reports that in this ravaged city the Berlin Mosque stands alive.
For a few years after the end of the Second World War, the Anjuman could not send an Imam from Pakistan. Mrs. Amina Mosler continued to perform the duties of looking after the Mosque and the Mission House. During the War, the duties of the Imam were temporarily performed by Abdul Ghani Usman - a Tartar Muslim. The residence of the Imam was rented out to a German and the income from it was used to meet the expenditures of the Mosque. Meetings of Yugoslavian Muslim volunteers and other gatherings were held at Mrs. Amina Moslers house. During this period, around eight thousand Turks, Yugoslavians and Tartars were associated with the Berlin Mosque, of which six thousand were Yugoslavian Muslims. Friday congregational prayers and weekly gatherings on Sundays also took place regularly.
In 1941, the former Mufti of Palestine, Amin al-Hussaini, and the Prime Minister of Iraq fled to Berlin along with their Arab supporters and they, too, attended the Eid congregations.
On May 14, 1949, a special reception was held in Berlin presided over by Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who was at that time in charge of the Woking Muslim Mission and was also responsible for the Berlin Mission. At this function, Bro. Muhammad Aman Hobohms appointment as the Assistant Imam was officially announced and he was introduced to the local German Muslims and other notables of the city. The reception was attended by more than two hundred Muslims. Details of the reception were broadcast through the world-renowned news agency, Reuters. A report about the function along with a brief history of the Mosque was also published by Pakistani newspapers.
Bro. Muhammad Aman Hobohm was proficient both in German and English. He also knew Arabic, French and Latin. Hence, during his term he started publication of a magazine called The Orient Post in three languages ¾ Arabic, English and German ¾ but due to financial difficulties it could not be continued for long. For the first time in the history of the Berlin Mosque and Mission, a German Muslim was made the Imam, but in spite of being a German he had to face bitter opposition.
In 1948, some Muslims gathered around a Pakistani journalist, Hafiz Manzar-ud-Din Ahmad. The attitude of this journalist was regrettable in many ways. He had cherished hopes that he would be appointed as the Imam of the Mosque, but when Bro.Muhammad Aman Hobohm became the Assistant Imam, his hopes were shattered and he started to oppose him.. He and his associates started incitinging the people against Imam Hobohm, saying that he was not a true Muslim. As a result of their instigation, he was attacked outside the Mosque one day. However, he kept on performing his duties with utmost courage, steadfastness, sincerity and intelligence. As a result Eid congregations and lectures continued to be regularly arranged with success.
In 1953, Imam Hobohm came to Pakistan and visited all the Jamaats. He delivered a wonderful lecture at the Peshawar University. He got married to the daughter of Mr. Azimullah, a renowned advocate of Lahore and the General Secretary of the Anjuman Hamayat Islam. On his return he served the Mission for one more year, after which he was forced to leave the Mission due to its financial constraints and his own domestic circumstances. He entered the Government service in 1954. At present, probably, he is working as the Cultural Attaché of the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia. During the four-year term of Imam Hobohm, eighty-two Germans entered the fold of Islam. On his departure, the responsibility of looking after the Mosque and Mission once again fell upon the shoulders of Mrs. Amina Mosler and that courageous and dedicated lady fulfilled this responsibility with utmost sincerity, devotion and faithfulness for five years.
Mr. Abdul Aziz
In 1941, Maulana Butt joined government service in Sialkot. After three years he was transferred to Lahore where he took up his residence at the Delhi Gate. He regularly attended the Fajr prayers at the Ahmadiyya Buildings and Maulana Sadr-ud-Dins dars of the Holy Quran.
In 1945 when Maulana Muhammad Ali appealed to the young men to dedicate their lives to the propagation of Islam, Maulana Butt left his government job to devote his life to the service of the faith. In1946, he became student of the training class for missionaries. For two years, he acquired knowledge of the Holy Quran, Tradition, Islamic Jurisprudence and the works of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah from Hazrat Maulana Abdul Rahman Misri. After completing the training course, he was appointed as the Assistant Editor of the weekly Paigham-i Sulh for some time. In 1951, Maulana Butt passed the examinations of Arabic and Bachelor of Arts at the University of the Punjab. He also served as Hazrat Ameer Maulana Sadr-ud-Dins personal assistant for some time, and assisted him in writing and printing two of his renowned books, Ghalba-i Quran (The Triumph of the Holy Quran) and Zuroorat-i Hadith (The Importance of the Tradition). In August 1956, the Central Anjuman sent him to Woking, England as the Assistant Imam of the Shah Jehan Mosque. He also delivered the Friday sermons and led the congregational prayers on behalf of the Mission at the Pakistan High Commission, at the request of His Excellency Muhammad. Ikramullah, Pakistans High Commissioner in London. Maulana Butt stayed in England for three years during which he also attended the sessions of the World Congress of Faiths. In 1958, he met the Archbishop of Canterbury on the occasion of the Independence Day of India and had an interesting conversation with him.
Sir Aga Khan, the Third, had a long-standing and close association with the Woking Muslim Mission and the Shah Jehan Mosque. On account of this, he said in his will that his memorial service should be held at the Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking. Thus a dignified and solemn service was held at the Mosque. It was attended by Prince Karim Aga Khan, prominent members of the Ismaili community, the ambassadors of many Muslim states and the representative of Queen Elizabeth II. Maulana Butt led the funeral service.
Some of the important topics were:
Maulana Butts article, "The Holy Prophets Kind Treatment of the Jews", was published by the well-known magazine, The Islamic Culture, published from Hyderabad Deccan. In November 1959, Maulana Butt took charge of the Berlin Mission. Since no proper Imam had been sent to Berlin for a long time after Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the headlines of the local newspapers heralded the arrival of Maulana Butt.
The annual reports of the Berlin Mission, which were published in Urdu from time to time, show that Maulana Butt carried out the work of propagating Islam in Germany in a very organised manner and adopted the following means of conveying the teachings of Islam:
Maulana Muhammad Yahya Butt served as the Imam of the Berlin Mosque for twenty-seven years and four months ¾ a considerably long period of time. Through his efforts, one hundred and seventy-five people entered the fold of Islam, among them were a judge of the Berlin Court and several German scholars. .
The German Information Bulletin published by the German Government in 1962 published brief history of the Mosque and some details about the activities of the Mission and its influence under the title The Beautiful Mosque of Berlin. Some excerpts from it are given below:
"Muslim tourists are awed by the spectacle of the beautiful Mosque in Berlin, the metropolis of ancient Germany. It is the pleasure of every citizen to take every newcomer to the city in his first leisure time to visit this large and most magnificent Mosque. Muslims coming from Muslim states experience a spiritual contentment at this place as, standing shoulder to shoulder, they prostrate themselves before the Almighty. Its foundation stone was laid thirty years ago by a pious person, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, who succeeded in completing it by his tireless efforts. This Mosque contributes to the repute and prestige of the city. It affords a practical example of the majesty and tolerance of Islam. When Germans visit the Mosque and talk about Christianity and ask the Imams opinion about their views and ideas, the astonishing result has been that most of those who come to the Mosque with confused and prejudiced concepts about Islam, bid farewell to Christianity after they have had a talk with the Imam and return to their homes after entering the fold of Islam."
In the same year, the German Muslim Society was revived after a long time by the efforts of Maulana Butt. A princess of the Iranian royal family was chosen as its first president, but later Maulana Butt was made the president. From 1982 to 1987 Maulana Butts daughter Mansura Butt remained its secretary and Syed Tanfus of Tunis was its treasurer. Mansura Butt did her M.Sc. in Economics at the Berlin University and her thesis on the topic, "Interest-free Banking in Pakistan", was accepted by the University.
When Maulana Butt came to Pakistan in the same year, the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore sent a delegation under him to East Pakistan to elucidate the importance of the propagation of Islam in the West.
Burial Ground for
Muslims in Berlin:
The Birthday of
"I have been invited by the Imam of the Mosque to read a passage from the Bible on the occasion of the birth of Christ. I am thankful to him for this and see it as gesture of tolerance towards Christianity. This attitude is made even more admirable by the fact that Islam has a different belief about Jesus Christ than that of Christianity. Muslims believe that Jesus was only a prophet, equal in status to the other prophets, such as Moses and Elias, mentioned in the Bible, and do not believe that he possessed any Divine attributes. In spite of this, the fact that Jesus and Mary have been mentioned in the Holy Quran more than once is noteworthy. But this still does not provide sufficient reason to celebrate the Birthday of Jesus in a Mosque. In this context, some other things are also thought provoking. For instance, Islam counts Christianity among the religions of the world. I think that the Imam of the Mosque has set for us a good example by organising this gathering and it is my wish that Christianity should reciprocate by showing a much greater degree of tolerance for Islam than has been displayed up to the present time. A good beginning was made by the Protestants and Catholics in the near past. This healthy start should be built upon. In Berlin, through different Churches and the organisations of various Christian factions, we have provided an opportunity to the followers of different religions to get together and try to understand one another's views. I have mentioned these few facts in order to explain in detail the background of this inter-religious gathering which is being held in a mosque in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ."
In 1965, the present Pope, John Paul, declared that the Muslims are not infidals but they believe in one God. He instructed the priests to improve their relations with Muslims and to exchange views with them upon religious issues. In order to spread this declaration of the Pope, the All Churches Religious Organisation of Berlin held a special meeting. A brief report about it is given below :
"The All Churches Religious Organisation celebrated its twentieth anniversary. On this occasion, the Secretary of the Organisation, Rev. Aberhart , invited Dr. Benz , a Christian Professor at the University of Bonn to speak. In his speech, the Professor mentioned the Papal announcement made in 1965. Commenting upon this announcement, the Professor highlighted in detail the causes which had forced the Pope to change the long-standing attitude of the Church towards the Muslims. He said that a phenomenal change has appeared in the Muslim world in this century. Such religious organisations have emerged among the Muslims which are producing translations of the Holy Quran and its commentary, and literature about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. These are being disseminated on a large scale in Europe. They are also exerting their influence on the minds of the people by opening missions and sending missionaries to Europe. (By mentioning these facts, the Professor has actually admitted in an indirect manner the positive results of the missionary activity of the Ahmadiyya Movement.) The Professor said that now many Muslim states were heading towards political independence after throwing off the rulership of the Western nations; the Gulf states were beginning to grow in oil wealth. These three facts have forced the Vatican to change its old perspective about Islam and hence the Papal appeal for closer relations with the Muslim World."
In 1973 Maulana Sadr-ud-Din ¾ the founder of the German Muslim Mission ¾ visited Berlin during a month-long tour of South America for missionary and organisational purposes.
In June 1977, Maulana Butt met the Muslim prisoners in the prisons of Berlin at the request of the Minister of the Judiciary of the Government. He spoke with them on different issues and presented a few copies of the German translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din to the Prison library.
Pope John Paul and
"We welcome this announcement of Pope John Paul about religious tolerance and will like to take this opportunity to state with great pleasure that Islam has been practising religious tolerance for the past fourteen hundred years. Islam does not restrict itself to preaching tolerance only in words; it presents a practical example of tolerance which no religion has taught to this day. Tolerance is not just a policy in Islam; it is declared to be a part of faith to believe that all religions and their founders are from God. It even goes a step further than this to state that not only is it essential to believe in all the messengers of God; if even a single messenger is denied, a Muslim becomes an infidel. This concept of Islamic tolerance not only links the followers of all religions in a spiritual relationship; it also provides a firm basis for bringing them closer and promoting better understanding among them.
Maulana Butt laid great emphasis on this point before the audiance ¾ the respect of an illiterate Muslim in a remote village for Jesus and Mary in contrast with the extreme ignorance and revulsion of an educated student of the Free Berlin University for the Prophet of Islam.
The effect of this speech was that the Cardinal Secretary of the Pope admitted before the audience the greatmess of the Prophet Muhammad and the errors in Christian literature. The Mufti of Cyprus, Dr. Riffat Mustafa Usalene, was also present at the conference. At the end of the session he expressed his intense happiness and the other Muslim participants also embraced Maulana Butt and commended his courage with which he had presented Islam at the centre of a Catholic Church.
The Reports of
"Imam Muhammad Yahya Butt comes from Lahore, Pakistan. He has been in charge of the Mission for the last twenty years. Officials of the Berlin Government hold his views on Islamic issues in high esteem and believe them to be authentic. His style of exercising his judgement and reasoning has always been appreciated. Some of the Muslims residing in Berlin uphold those views about the rights of women which have been held by Maulana Maudoodi in Pakistan. But the truth is that the views and exposition which the Pakistani Imam of the Berlin Mosque present here in Germany are logical and practical."
In 1980, the Imam of the Berlin Mosque was invited to Tehran by the Revolutionary Council of Iran to participate in the celebrations of the anniversary of the Revolution.
On January 14, a documentary film entitled Muslims in Germany was prepared, and shown on television on May 7 of the same year. In this film, the Berlin Mosque and the endeavours of the Mission were briefly introduced and a few new German Muslims were also interviewed, some of whom said that they had obtained information about Islam from the Imam of the Berlin Mosque.
During the same year, a renowned German publishing firm, Zie Benztryn compiled articles written by Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, Bahai and Sufi religious leaders and scholars on the subject "What will Happen after Death?" Twenty-four articles were written in all, of which eighteen were by Christian scholars. The Islamic point of view on this subject was presented by the Imam of the Berlin Mosque, Maulana Muhammad Yahya Butt. This was later printed in the form of a book.
And now some excerpts from the reports and comments published in newspapers about the Berlin Mosque and the activities of the Mission, which highlight its work and impact:
"The Imam of the Mosque these days is Muhammad Yahya Butt. He is a Pakistani and is the religious leader of over a thousand Muslims, most of whom are university students from Arab states, Iran, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. The doors of the Berlin Mosque are open to all Muslims, irrespective of the country to which they belong. This Mosque is not just a place of worship for Muslims from foreign lands. Indeed, the Imam of the Mosque makes earnest efforts so that the people of Germany may believe in the message of the Prophet Muhammad and he has been quite successful in this regard. Over seventy new German Muslims are included in his circle.... Every Saturday evening new Muslim brothers and Christian friends meet the Imam at the Mission House and listen to his talk on religious issues. There is a wonderful display of forbearance during the question-answer sessions. It is this very attitude of tolerance of the Imam which is crowning his efforts to preach Islam with an astonishing amount of success. A German is entering the fold of Islam every month.
The writer ends his long essay by writing:
"This is a good opportunity for the citizens of Berlin to learn and understand the teachings of Islam. Admission to the Mosque is open to all. Christians are allowed to enter the Mosque on Fridays when prayers are being offered, or on Saturday evenings when lectures on different subjects are being delivered from the Holy Quran, or when talks are going on. Great respect is shown towards Christian friends and visitors to the Mosque. One hundred and twenty-five chairs have been laid out in the Mosque for visitors. A person who is anywhere near the Mosque on Friday, the time of the zuhr prayer, and hears the call of the muezzin, he can enter the Mosque without any hesitation passing through its doorway, and will see nothing odd during the prayer in the Mosque. The good that will come out of seeing Muslims pray in the Mosque will be that we will able to deal more tolerantly with those living in our city and our country, whose religion is not Christianity."
The writer further says:
"Since the last fifteen or sixteen years the Berlin Mosque has become such a centre where not only can the Muslims of different sects gather together and offer prayers, but the Christians can also participate in the meetings held in the Mosque. In this way, this Mosque of Berlin has become a unique model, a living testimony that Islam is the religion of universal principles.
Visitors to the
Official Aid for
the Berlin Mosque:
> A Brief History of The Berlin Muslim Mission
(Germany) (1922-1988) -- Compiled by Nasir Ahmad