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Monday, 6 September 2010

How Islam Came to Germany

The sun sets behind the Yanidze complex in Dresden, the mosque-inspired former home to a tobacco factory.


The history of Islam in Germany

Goes back as far as the 8th century. From the reign of Charlemagne, to Goethe's literature, to the Turkish guest workers who arrived in the 1950s and 60s and made a home here, the Muslim religion has been a part of German culture for hundreds of years.

Islam in Germany is believed to date back to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. In the fabled tales of "1001 Nights," al-Rashid is said to have wandered the streets of Baghdad at night dressed as a merchant in order to learn about the needs of his subjects. Various sources relate that Charlemagne established diplomatic relations with this Abbasid ruler in the year 797 or 801. Both sides reportedly guaranteed freedom of belief for members of the other religion in their respective empires. It is in any case an established historic fact that the elephant Abul Abbas died in 810. This magnificent animal had been sent by the caliph to Charlemagne in Aachen as a token of his friendship.



The Spread of Islam in Europe

At the time of Charlemagne, most of the Iberian Peninsula was already under the control of the Moors, who ruled over this part of Europe for nearly 800 years until the final stage of the reconquista -- the Christian reconquest of Spain and Portugal -- in the year 1492. Additional military advances by the Muslims in Europe were stopped -- exactly one century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad -- in 732 at Tours and Poitiers and in 759 in Narbonne and Nimes in France.

Between the 8th and 10th centuries, Arab Muslims carried out raids on Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and even Rome. Islamic forces advanced from the south and the west via Piemont and Burgundy into the Rhone Valley. They occupied alpine passes and parts of Switzerland, where they remained from 952 to 960.
The last great onslaught came from the east. When the Ottoman Turks captured the Byzantine capital Constantinople (today Istanbul) in 1453, it spelled the end of the Eastern Roman Empire and this final bastion of Christianity in Asia Minor. Afterwards, the Ottomans expanded their realm of influence and made incursions in 1529 and 1683 throughout the Balkans and as far as the gates of Vienna, and Islamized Bosnia and Albania.

Read more info at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany

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