A Laboratory of Modernity—The Ahmadiyya Mission in Inter-war Europe

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
Gerdien Jonker Erlanger Centre for Islam and Law in Europe Erlangen GERMANY

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In this paper, I retrace the history of the Ahmadiyya mission in inter-war Europe as part of the globalisation narrative. Once they gained a footing, missionaries responded and adapted to local experiments with modernity as a means to simultaneously win over Europeans and to modernise Islam. The article first considers the mental map with which Ahmadiyya and other Muslim intellectuals approached Europe. It reconstructs the work of the mission organisation, and illustrates the communication difficulties between the Lahore centre and the mission post in Berlin. Making use of fresh sources, I then sketch out the political context in which the missionaries moved about, and trace their perceptions and adaptations of European ideas. In the larger picture of globalisation, the Berlin mission offers a telling example of local religious adaptation, emphasising the important rapport between the newcomers and the local factor.

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