Syed Amer Safir in Frankfurt, Germany
Germany, a country of 84 million people, is home to 4.7 million Muslims.
In a recent study by the Expert Council on Integration and Migration, almost 48% of German respondents surveyed, believed that ‘Islam is not compatible with German society.’ And nearly 44% of Germans surveyed, said state security agencies should monitor Muslim organisations.
There are a variety of reasons why so many Germans have these apprehensions regarding Islam. Migrants now make up more than 20% of Germany’s population and there has been a huge influx in Muslim migrants over the last many years, especially from Turkey, Syria, Morocco and Lebanon as well as other Muslim countries. Immigration is now a constant issue of national debate.
To add fuel to the fire, far-right parties are soaring in popularity in Germany. According to German newspaper Bild, far-right parties have become the second strongest political force in Germany, commanding around 78 seats in the country’s parliament. Some of their policies include programmes which have been described as ‘Anti-Muslim’. Unfortunately the wrongful acts of a tiny minority of Muslims, which is deserving of condemnation and not taught by Islam, is frequently used as a justification for an anti-Islamic approach.
It is these negative stories that get portrayed in the country’s media, and grab the attention of the German public.
It is not surprising therefore, that the Independent Expert Panel on Hostility Against Muslims (UEM), documented in their report, that hostile attitudes towards Muslims in Germany have become widespread, and Muslim women wearing the headscarf are reported to often face discrimination. Stereotypical views about Muslims in general, being linked to extremist values, are quite common.
Naturally, not all Germans share these concerns and a large number are very tolerant, open-minded, and accepting of other cultures and religions. Broad-minded people in Germany should not be painted with the same brush.
The Arrival of The Khalifa
It is against this background that Hazrat Mirza Masoor Ahmad (aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the 5th Khalifa (Caliph), arrived in Frankfurt Am Main, Germany on Sunday 26th August, welcomed by crowds of hundreds of men and women.
The Khalifa is leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which is tens of millions strong globally. The Community was established in 1889 by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), who claimed to be the second spiritual coming of Jesus (as), the Messiah that had been prophesied to appear in all the major religions. He said that his advent was in accordance with the promises in the Holy Qur’an, that Islam would be revived from a state of decay and decline, and would return to its true glory and teachings, of tolerance, peace, respect, and high morals and values.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) visited Germany each year since becoming the Khalifah. This year’s tour marks his first visit after four years. He received a rapturous welcome from the waiting followers. Arriving at around 10pm after a long journey by road which started just after 10am from London, the first port of call after waving to his followers upon exiting his car, was not to rest and sleep. Rather, after retiring to his residence very briefly, and performing the ablution, His Holiness (aba) headed straight to the mosque to lead Maghrib (prayer after sunset) and Isha (evening prayer). The next morning on Monday, at around 5:30am, His Holiness (aba) then led Fajr (prayer right before dawn), in a mosque packed with people, some of whom had travelled many hours earlier. This focus on prayers has been, and will continue to be, the central feature of the Khalifa’s daily life.
One of the highlights of the visit of the Khalifa will be the Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) Germany 2023. The Jalsa Salana is a three day spiritual gathering, and this year, the Jalsa Salana Germany is being held in the Messe Stuttgart for the first time, where tens of thousands are expected. This is the 100th year of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Germany, and therefore the cause of celebration and special programmes.
At the Jalsa and at the various mosque openings, His Holiness (aba) will be explaining the true message of Islam, which has sadly, been sorely misunderstood and misrepresented, both by Muslims due to their own erroneous understanding , and the negative portrayals by the media and by far-right groups. It is to be hoped that this visit will enlighten Germans on the true teachings of its beautiful message of peace for the world.