A Ray of Hope Growing in the Shadows – Ahmadiyya in Germany

Debates on Islam in Germany rarely feature the Ahmadiyya community (AMJ), a reform-oriented movement, but for more than 90 years it has been part of our society. Ahmadis are well-integrated, open-minded, socially-active and law-abiding. In 2013, Ahmadiyya was the first Muslim community to be recognized as a statutory corporation, meaning they are allowed to raise taxes and graveyards. However, the community only appears in the headlines when conservative initiatives want to prevent them constructing a mosque, and to do so equate them with Islamists. Meanwhile, many Muslims on the other side allege that Ahmadis are heretics. In some Muslim countries they face brutal persecution. For my feature, I travelled to several German cities to portray the AMJ and to show that Islam can coexist in symbiosis with German society, belongs to our country and does not pose a danger.

Bait us-Sabuh, the German headquarter of the AMJ in Frankfurt. 35,000 registered AMJ members are active in 225 local councils. As a purely religious community, without political or cultural motives, the Ahmadiyya is a statutory corporation.By Benjamin Kilb
Believers in the Khadija Mosque, erected in 2008 in Pankow-Heinersdorf, Berlin. The construction of formed East Berlin’s first mosque was accompanied by a protest movement of the local population. By Benjamin Kilb
The Nuur Mosque in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen shaped the history of Islam in Germany like no other mosque. Germany’s third-oldest mosque, built in 1959, is regarded to this day as place of meeting for everybody. By Benjamin Kilb
Young Ahmadis at a AMJ charity walk in front of the state theatre in Wiesbaden. The revenue is donated to a Wiesbaden children hospice and a home for the handicapped.By Benjamin Kilb
Anes, who converted from Sunni Islam to the AMJ, and Simon and Tino Schmidt who have found spiritual joy and happiness in Ahmadi Islam. “If it hadn’t been for the Ahmadiyya, I would have never found Islam,” Tino says today.By Benjamin Kilb
Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide head of the AMJ, giving an audience in the Beit us-Sabuh in Frankfurt. Millions of Ahmadis revere him as the fifth successor of the prophesied messiah and community founder Imam Mahdi Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.By Benjamin Kilb
Scenery in the Jamia in Riedstadt, the only Ahmadi institute for imam training in Germany. Young German Muslims receive a seven-year education to become imams. By Benjamin Kilb
Preparation for an Ahmadiyya wedding in Frankfurt. The AMJ offers prevention workshops against forced marriages at schools. The AMJ regards forced marriages and other patriarchic traditions as non-Islamic.By Benjamin Kilb
An Ahmadi Muslima speaking at a election campaign rally to which the AMJ has invited candidates for the Bundestag. Equality between man and woman is not merely taught but lived.By Benjamin Kilb
Around 30,000 Muslims gathered last June for Jalsa Salana, the annual general assembly of the German AMJ held at the Karlsruhe fair ground, to listen to the clerics’ speeches.By Benjamin Kilb
AMJ members during the Jalsa Salana in Karlsruhe. Ahmadis mainly hail from Pakistan and India, but often face religious persecution there. For this reason, most of them live in the diaspora.By Benjamin Kilb
Abdullah Uwe Wagishauser (63) has headed the German AMJ chapter since 1984. He works tirelessly for the integration of Islam in Germany. He sees his lifetime task in establishing a peaceful and liberal IslamBy Benjamin Kilb