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What happens when the idea of religious progress propels the shaping of modernity? In The Ahmadiyya Quest for Religious Progress. Missionizing Europe 1900 – 1965 Gerdien Jonker offers an account of the mission the Ahmadiyya reform movement undertook in interwar Europe. Nowadays persecuted in the Muslim world, Ahmadis appear here as the vanguard of a modern, rational Islam that met with a considerable interest.

Ahmadiyya mission on the European continent attracted European ‘moderns’, among them Jews and Christians, theosophists and agnostics, artists and academics, liberals and Nazis. Each in their own manner, all these people strove towards modernity, and were convinced that Islam helped realizing it. Based on a wide array of sources, this book unravels the multiple layers of entanglement that arose once the missionaries and their quarry met.
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Abstract

In 1923, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat ve Islam with headquarters in Lahore (hereafter: Lahore-Ahmadiyya) sent the pedagogue Maulvi Sadr-ud-Din to Berlin commissioned to erect a mosque, create a mission and enter in conversation with the Europeans. The European mission was a comprehensive answer to the challenge that the British Empire presented to Muslims. In their hometown, Lahore, Lahore-Ahmadiyya aimed at comparing religions in order to push back British missionaries and disprove Christian claims to superiority. Adapting to the German setting, which in the years to come would swiftly move from democratic to nationalistic politics, the mission in Berlin created many variations on that theme. Today, the mosque registry, holding records of almost 100 years of administration, bears witness to the efforts of the missionaries to explain to various German audiences their view of Islam. An important source for Muslim history in Germany, the archive highlights such different research subjects as Muslim modernity at work, the language of secular Islam, Indian-German approximations, conversion, and mixed marriage. In 2018, it was donated to the National Archive in Berlin, where the approximately 70,000 documents and 5,000 photographs were made available for research. This contribution offers an analysis of the contents.

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
In: Journal of Muslims in Europe

Abstract

Starting from the thesis that European mosque archives offer important sources for the history of Muslims and Islam in Europe, this contribution presents results of a pilot survey into the whereabouts of mosque archives in Germany. Focusing on five small towns in industrial zones where predominantly Turkish contract workers have settled, we asked Turkish mosque administrators, chairmen and imams how they had handled papers in the past, whether and where they had stored folders that were not in use anymore, and what kind of documents their collections contained. What we found were various archival records in a wide and unexpected range of places. We also learned that our questions prompted very different reactions. Umbrella organisations understood their archives as tools for preserving the written sources documenting their origins, whereas local administrators tended to see them as records of their personal memories. Our conclusion is that the time is ripe for the development of knowledge about mosque archives in Germany and, with regard to the founding generation, this is of crucial importance.

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe