Berlin Mosque survives Second World War
Article compiled by Dr. Zahid Aziz
The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has always expressed
the deepest of gratitude to Almighty Allah that its mosque situated
in Berlin survived the terrible, wholesale destruction of the German
Capital during and, especially, towards the end of the Second World
War. Having searched the archives of The Light, the English
organ of the Movement published from Lahore, we found some reports
of that period which are quoted below.
The first item below (Berlin Mosque Intact) was 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.
Berlin Mosque Intact
(From The Light, 18 September 1945,
It is nothing less than a miracle that the Berlin Mosque,
which was built by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat 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
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 Berlin
Under the above heading, a report appeared in The Light
of 8 February 1947 on page 3 which is reproduced below:
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 Mosques 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
Ishaat Islam, Lahore.
In The Light of 24 May 1949 on page 19, a report from Reuters
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 below:
The foundation of the Berlin Mosque was laid in
1922 by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din who was deputed by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman
Ishaat 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 Central Europe.
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.