Discussions of the Muslim population in Germany often focus on those of Turkish, and to a lesser extent, Arab descent. This is logical, since the Turkish- and Arab-German populations are the two largest Muslim groups in Germany. The focus on these two groups, however, elides significant distinctions within the population of Muslim migrants in Germany. In this essay I focus on three less-discussed groups: Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani migrants. All three of these groups differ, above all, from Turkish migrants in Germany, because their departure from their home countries was occasioned, on the whole, more by political and religious and less by economic factors. Iranians and Afghans fled revolutions and wars in their countries, while the Pakistani community in Germany includes many Ahmadis, a heretical sect of Muslims according to the Pakistani constitution. Thus, the Pakistani-German community, in particular, presents a fascinating picture of a minority-within-aminority in Germany. This essay provides an overview of the history and current status of these three distinct groups of Muslim migrants in Germany. In addition, I discuss how popular perception of these communities often subsumes them into the larger Turkish-German community.
Around 1900 German orientalists, missionaries and representatives of colonial pressure groups started a debate about the so-called Moslem world. This debate created new spaces, connecting Africa, Europe and the Ottoman Empire: It equally shaped and was shaped by old and newly invented religious traditions and it made and was made by changing coalitions between political, academic and economic interests of transnational scientific associations, local African societies and by worldwide organized missionary groups. Above all this debate shows surprising connections to current discussions and thereby provides an insight into the ongoing German discussions about modern migration and the role of religion.