ABGESAGT Mosque Archives as Sources for Historical Research: The Case of Berlin-Wilmersdorf

Vortrag von Gerdien Jonker und Maria-Magdalena Fuchs

In 1923, the Lahore branch of the Ahmadiyya, a revivalist Muslim movement founded in colonial India, sent a missionary to Berlin with the assignment to erect a mosque and enter into a conversation with people in Berlin and other European capitals, preferably non-Muslims. As part of broader debates about religious modernism in South Asia at the time, the Lahore Ahmadiyya aimed at reforming the Islamic tradition with the help of (Western) education, new organizational approaches, and a marked emphasis on proselytization. Once in Berlin, it also aimed at developing a 'Religion of the Future' in debate with European thinkers that would underscore the principal equality of all civilizations and stress the common ground religions share. This Jaddidi mission was a comprehensive answer to the challenge, with which the British colonial administration in India presented its subjects. Almost one hundred years later, the mosque registry, containing a wealth of sources from that time period, such as correspondences, marriage files, reports and photographs, was transferred to the National Archive of Berlin. We will thread several pathways through the documents in order to show how it can add to existing research.

Dr. Gerdien Jonker is Historian of Religion and senior researcher at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen. After her dissertation on the collective memory of Ancient Mesopotamia, Jonker switched to European minorities and their memory practices today. Her current research addresses Jews and Muslims in Germany and the relations the two minorities entertain. Her publications include On the Margins. Jews and Muslims in Interwar Berlin (Leiden: EJ Brill 2020);  ‚Etwas hoffen muss das Herz’. Eine Familiengeschichte von Juden, Christen und Muslime (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2018); The Ahmadiyya Quest. Missionizing Europe 1900-1965 (Leiden: EJ Brill, 2016).

Dr. Maria-Magdalena Fuchs is a postdoc research fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. She received her PhD from the Department of Religion at Princeton University in 2019, focusing on the history of Islamic modernism in colonial north India. Maria also holds an MSt in Global and Imperial History from the University of Oxford and a BA in Islamic Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin. Her publications include a co-edited special section on “Religious Minorities in Pakistan: Identities, Citizenship and Social Belonging”, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 43 (2020), a review essay titled “The Public Sphere in South Asia”, Südasien-Chronik, 6 (2016), and an article called “Walking a Tightrope: The Jesuit Robert Bütler and Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Pakistan”, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 27:4 (2016).

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