Berlin Mosque survives World War
Remembering 50 years ago
compiled by the Editor (Dr.
(The Light & Islamic Review,
Volume 72, No. 3, May-June 1995, pages 10-13)
Berlin Mosque Intact
back in Berlin /
At the present time, commemorations are being
held in Europe to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the
Second World War in May 1945 and the various famous events that took
place in its closing days. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement too has cause
to remember that time and express gratitude to Almighty Allah, for
its mosque situated in Berlin survived the terrible, wholesale destruction
of the German Capital during and, especially, towards the end of the
war. Having searched the archives of The Light, we found some
reports of that period which are quoted below. The first item is written
by Dr. S.M. Abdullah, who at the time of writing was the General Secretary
at the Centre of the Movement in Lahore. He had served as Imam of
the Berlin Mosque during the 1930s, leaving shortly before war broke
out in 1939. After the war, he was again placed in charge of the Berlin
mission, while also serving as Imam at the Woking Mosque in England.
by Dr. S. M. Abdullah
(The Light, 18 September 1945,
"It is nothing less than a miracle that the Berlin
Mosque, which was built by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam,
Lahore, in the year 1927 has survived the ravages of the war. Berlin
has been destroyed, ruined and bombed in a manner unprecedented
in the history of the world. That the Berlin Mosque where actual
bombing, shelling and fighting has taken place should have escaped
destruction is a clear sign of the hand of the Almighty God working
behind the scene. It also shows the purity and sincerity of the
purpose with which the handful of members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya
Movement are working for the noble and sublime cause of the propagation
of Islam in Europe. It also shows the enthusiasm and devotion to
Islam with which these new converts are imbibed. Six zealous women
have worked five weeks repairing the damage to make the mosque fit
again for congregational prayers and that at a time when there were
no funds available and when they themselves stood in need of every
possible help to keep soul and body together. This shows their ardent
zeal and devoutness for Islam, the religion they profess.
"Let such our Muslim brethren as oppose our humble efforts
and services to the cause of Islam pause and ponder over their
attitude. Can they not see the hand of God working with and helping
this Movement? Let me assure my brethren in Islam that this Movement
which was founded by the Reformer of the present century is bound
to succeed as it aims at the establishment of the universal truth
"Let our brethren in faith come forward and join us in pushing
forward the cause of Islam in the world, especially in Europe,
which needs it most the existing and prevailing evils of the present-day
"To the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement, the news of this
Providential protection of the Mosque has come as a fresh message
of hope and cheer. It has filled them with the conviction that
this Mosque is destined to play a distinct role in the spiritual
reconstruction of Berlin that now lies torn and bleeding, materially
as well as spiritually. The German people stand rudely shaken
and disillusioned -- just the mood of mind to receive the message
of universal human equality that Islam is. That is what the Hand
of Providence has preserved the Mosque for."
Another item appeared shortly afterwards in The Light of
8 December 1945 on page 1. It gives some details of the damage sustained
by the Mosque due to "the war that was fought even within its
sacred precincts", and reports that the Mosque now lies situated
in that zone of divided Berlin which is "under the British
Army of occupation". It further reported that Dr. S. M. Abdullah
was ready to resume his work in Berlin, and that "the Anjuman
has moved the Government of India to get the benefit of priority
for a sea passage from India to England and an air passage from
England to Berlin."
Imam back in
Under the above heading, a report appeared in
The Light of 8 February 1947 on page 3 which is reproduced
"Dr. Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah, M.Sc., Ph.D., Imam
of the Mosque, Berlin, it will be recalled, had to quit Germany
at the outbreak of war. At the termination of war, this Anjuman
was anxious that the activities at the Mosque should be resumed
as early as possible. Military occupation, food condition and general
dislocation of life in that once Naziland, however, made the prospects
of reopening the Mosque and its allied missionary activities extremely
gloomy. Even in December last, when the Anjuman decided to take
the first step in this direction at any cost and sent Dr. Abdullah
to England to study conditions from that quarter, the prospects
were none too bright either. It was a leap in the dark and it was
almost a settled fact that for sometime to come the Imam will have
to mark time and keep himself occupied with some sort of missionary
work in England.
"God, however, comes to the help of those who move in His
way. Dr. Abdullah has been afforded every facility to visit Berlin
by the authorities of British occupation. Life in Berlin being
still in military control, he has been invested with the Honorary
rank of a full Colonel which will enable him to enjoy all the
facilities associated with that position."
Beneath this is a report headed Berlin Mosque's S.O.S.,
which is reproduced below:
"Maulana Muhammad Ali, Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya
Movement, has issued an appeal for funds for the repair of the Berlin
Mosque, which was damaged in the last phase of the war when Nazi
resistance took the form of street fighting. When after victory
the Allied forces entered Berlin, the Mosque was found littered
with the dead bodies of Nazi youth.
"According to the estimate received from a Berlin architect
the repairs will cost Rs. 92,000, prices and wages having risen
four times compared to pre-war rates. The appeal gives two photographs
-- one showing the Mosque as it originally stood, the other in
its present damaged condition. Should this S.O.S. from this House
of God bestir the heart of any son of Islam and he would like
to see this sole beacon of Light Divine in the dark heart of Christian
Europe restored to its original dignity, he may send his contribution
to the Financial Secretary, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam, Lahore."
In The Light of 24 May 1949 on page
19, a report from Reuter's Berlin correspondent is reproduced
regarding the Berlin Mosque which had appeared in the Pakistan newspapers.
It contains a brief history of the Berlin Mosque which we quote
"The foundation of the Berlin Mosque was laid in
1922 by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din who was deputed by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman
Isha'at Islam to deliver the message of Islam to the people of Germany.
At the same time, he laid the foundation of the Islamic Mission.
Within a couple of years there stood in the heart of the German
Capital, with all its grandeur and beauty, a huge building of the
Berlin Mosque possessing a fascinating charm. A quarterly magazine
in German under the title Muslimische Review was also started which
rendered valuable services in disseminating the light of Islam in
"The strenuous work and the devoted efforts of the Islamic
Mission attracted the attention of Germans, and by 1925 about
forty people of high reputation embraced Islam.
"The opening ceremony of the mosque was attended by a large
number of new converts to Islam as well as by a distinguished
gathering of Muslims from Egypt, Syria, Persia, Afghanistan and
India, including Allama Lufti, the leader of Muslims in Russia.
"In his inaugural speech, Allama Lufti said with a sense
of pride that he had studied each and every word of the books
of the Mujaddid recommended to him by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and
had found in them the light of truth in abundance which showed
that he was in fact the Mujaddid of the time. Besides, Egyptians,
Syrians, Iranians and Afghans delivered lectures and each of them
expressed his love and appreciation for the mission.
"Muslims were brought under one banner. Dr. Marcus, Dr.
Griefelt and Dr. Banning were among the renowned personalities
of the time who, realising the magnetic force of Islam, embraced
it and devoted themselves to further the cause of Islam.
"Dr. Marcus' personality needs no introduction. He is the
man whose essays on the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, left
a deep impress upon the mind of Dr. Iqbal who, by way of compliment,
'Many a Muslim thinker and philosopher have written
a great deal about the Holy Prophet, but none comes up to the
mark of Dr. Marcus.'
"His way of presenting the Prophet is unmatched in its beauty,
his force irresistible and his sincerity very convincing.
"Uptil 1938, the Muslim Mission's work went on smoothly
and uninterrupted, but with the outbreak of the war the whole
thing was upset. Professor Dr. Abdullah, the then Imam of the
Mosque, as an Indian national had to leave Germany. A German doctor
and his wife offered their services to Professor Dr. Abdullah
to take care of the garden, the Mosque and the house adjacent
to it. They decided also to bear themselves the expenses of running
the Mosque. Sometime later this doctor joined the army and was
killed in action. His wife also left the place. A new convert
to Islam, Frau Moslar, then came forward to take care of the Mosque
and the house.
"This magnificent Mosque was built at the cost of Rs. 150,000.
During the war it served as a spiritual centre not only for hundreds
of German converts to Islam but also for the thousands of other
Muslims who were drawn to Berlin -- Russians, Turks, Egyptians,
Afghans, Indians and others. During the war, Muslim prisoners
of war from India who happened to be in Germany also went to this
Mosque for Id prayers.
"In the final stages of the war, when Berlin was attacked
by the Russian forces, the Germans dug trenches in the Mosque
garden and it, therefore, became a target for the invading forces.
Though the Mosque survived the war, it suffered heavy damage.
The dome itself was hit and damaged. One of the two minarets,
95 ft. high, was practically destroyed. Its repair cost the Anjuman
more than eighty thousand Rupees.
"The Mosque is situated in the most fashionable locality
of Berlin. Well laid out roads on its three sides with a foot
path running side by side, lovely hedges and flower plants with
a beautiful lawn in front add to the charm of the Mosque."