Dienstag, 10. Dezember 2013

Discovering multicultural Charlottenburg: the oldest mosque in use in Germany

It is Friday morning and I am rushing to finish all my preparations at a decent hour. As I am more efficient than expected, I still have some time for hunting interesting blogging topics. This time, I go straight to a place where I wanted to go for at least 3 hours. The Mosque in Charlottenburg, the oldest in use in Germany.  
I arrive shortly before 13 o'clock. Friday is the most important day of the week for religious people and even though there is no muezzin calling people people are coming in small groups. In almost 10 minutes, there are around 10 people, mostly tourists, including two from Indonesia. The majority are men, but there are also a couple of women. The mosque belongs to the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, that was created in Lahore, Pakistan, at the beginning of the 20th century. The movement is following the sunni version of Islam, but is considered relatively reformist and consequently its followers discriminated in some parts of the world.
A note written at the entrance announces that 'Everyone, regardless of faith, religion, culture and gender' is welcomed, a statement that encouraged me to go further and enter the mosque for a while. I am welcomed in English and allowed to make a tour and take some pictures on my own. The space for women is on the back, where are some coaches and armchairs. It is quite cold inside, and as one may go always shoeless after a while the low winter temperatures are annoying. The place looks freshly painted, with old books and dictionaries offered for consultation on the site, as well as paintings and new books on sale. 
The mosque was open in 1925. A conservative newspaper at the time was announcing the news with the headline: 'Indians in Wilmersdorf' (the administrative unity at the tinme was incorporating Charlottenburg as well). Nowadays, it is connected with a similar mosque in London. It was build with a capacity of 400 persons. In 1937, the famous Aga Khan, the then richest man in the world, visited the place. Affected during the bombings, the mosque was reconstructed after the war and opened again to the public. 
I left the mosque before the praying time started. Playing the neutral observer in a place of worship is something I don't like to do as I would not like to be anyone's subject of observation during such personal intimate moments. I am living with a last look to the white building with towers adorned with modest models. There is a lot of history written in my neighbourhood. 

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