Muslims in Interwar Europe

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الأرستقراطيون سموا أبناءهم بأسماء عربية.. كيف تنافست أوروبا لكسب المسلمين؟ اقرأ الحكاية كاملة


When Europe loved Islam

Marya Hannun and Sophie Spaan wrote an article for Foreign Policy on Islam in interwar Europe

From the outside, with its high minarets and bulbous Mughal-style dome, the Wilmersdorf mosque, located on Brienner Street in southwest Berlin, looks much the same as it did when it was built in the 1920s. But the institution, just like the city around it, has changed. Today, the mosque is a quiet place. It mainly serves as an information center: School children sometimes visit on field trips; it hosts interfaith brunches. A small community of Muslims regularly show up for Friday prayer. It’s all a far cry from the days when the Wilmersdorf mosque was the lively center of a spiritual countercultural movement in the Weimar Republic... See more


Lecture-cum-seminar IX

Euro-Islam in Interwar Albania

In this presentation, Prof. Dr. Nathalie Clayer will discuss the ways in which local actors in Southeastern Europe adapted Islam to the Europe context in the interwar period. Albania lends itself well for such a discussion, since it was the only European country with a Muslim majority, before the recent creation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo as independent states. She will concentrate on inter-war Albania in order to subsequently highlight some features of the post-socialist situation. The lecture will discus how Islam came to be redefined by Muslim reformists in relation with the "West", "Western civilization", "Europe", "modernity" or "modernization", especially around some key issues like science, education, secularism, and women. The building of a "European Islam", which occurs later in Southeastern Europe, is linked to this movement, but also has special features which differ according to regional contexts and periods.

Nathalie Clayer is a Professor at the EHESS in Paris, a senior research fellow at the CNRS in Paris at the CETOBAC department (Centre d'Ètudes Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques') and the head of the department. Her main research focuses on religion, nationalism and state-building processes in the Ottoman Empire and in the Balkans, especially among the Albanians.

Date and time: 11 May 2016 11:00 - 13:00
Venue: Trans 10, Room 0.19

For registration please send an email to Ms. Soumia Middelburg:

Lecture-cum-seminar VIII

Protestant Islam in Weimar Germany: Hugo Marcus and "The Message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to Europe"

This seminar explores the Islam envisioned in the extensive writings of one of the most prominent of German converts to Islam in Weimar Germany, the Jewish poet, philosopher, and political activist Hugo Marcus (1880-1966). Rather than an "Eastern" Islam, Marcus' understanding of that religion is a surprisingly Eurocentric and even Germanic one. To him, Islam is not only the religion of the German past, but also, given its faith in the intellect and in progress, the religion of the future. Marcus's ideas do not figure in the historiography of Weimar Germany. Primarily this is because while many of the new political notions of the future that writers contemplated have been explored, scholars have paid less attention to the spiritual and religious utopias envisioned in the 1920s. This paper engages with the question of German responses to the rupture of World War I and the realm of imagined political possibilities in Weimar Germany by focusing on one such utopia overlooked in historiography, the German-Islamic synthesis as advocated by Hugo Marcus.

Marc David Baer is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford University Press, 2008), which received the Middle East Studies Association's Albert Hourani Book Award. He is also the author of The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford University Press, 2010). The recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, Baer is currently researching the interconnected histories of Jews, Turks, and Muslim in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Recent outcomes of this research include "Turk and Jew in Berlin: The first Turkish Migration to Berlin and The Shoah" in Comparative Studies in Society and History (April 2013) and "Muslim Encounters with Nazism and the Holocaust: The Ahmadi of Berlin and Jewish Convert to Islam Hugo Marcus" in The American Historical Review (February 2015). He is curently writing a biography of Hugo Marcus.

Date and time: 2 March 2016 11:00 - 16:00
Venue: Janskerkhof 13, Room 0.06

For registration please send an email to Ms. Soumia Middelburg:

Lecture-cum-seminar VII, with Naomi Davidson

Muslim Spaces and "French Islam" during Interwar Years

The seminar will focus on the formative years of Islam français, or French Islam, wich was central to shaping relationships between Muslim comunities and French state actors in the 20th centrury. In its purest discursive form, Islam français promised that one could be both an enlightened religiously observant Muslim and a modern secular French republican. Yet this vision was simultaneously undermined by the way Islam was defined in this equation. In the French imagination, Islam’s invasive nature, and its collapsing of the public and private spheres, made it impossible to truly be anything other than Muslim. The state’s emphasis on Muslim embodied practices in its social assistance and policing programs - embodied in mosques, hostels, and hospitals - during the interwar years laid the groundwork for the characterization of Muslim-ness as an innate quality. Naomi Davidson will analyze how this joint construction of a particular vision of Islam in the interwar period had ultimately contributed to the process of essentialization of those people identified as “Muslim” in France.

Naomi Davidson is is Associate Professor of History at the University of Ottawa (Canada). She is currently working on a book that examines the transformations of the “Arab” with regard to Jewish and Muslim religious practices in Algeria and France, c. 1870-1970. Her first book, Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France (Cornell UP 2012) won the Heggoy Prize Honorable Mention (2013). She was recently a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien (2013-2014) in Berlin, and her current research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Date and time: 3 December 2015 11:00 - 16:00
Venue: University of Utrecht, Drift 23, room 0.13

For registration please send an email to Ms. Soumia Middelburg:

Lecture-cum-seminar VI, with Mehdi Sajid

The neo-Salafi discourse in Egypt, 1926-1935

Within the context of the ERC project 'Muslims in Interwar Europe', coordinated by Dr Amr Ryad, the 6th lecture-cum-seminar will be given by Mehdi Sajid (Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies) on 24 September. The lecture is entitled ‘The Return of the Religious: Muslims in Interwar Europe and the neo-Salafi discourse in Egypt, 1926-1935'.
The seminar, which will be discussing the story of Prince Shakīb ʾArslān (1869-1946), arguably the most influential Muslim exile in Europe of his time, and his intellectual influence on the nascent neo-Salafi movement in Egypt from his European exile, will be introduced by Prof. Bekim Agai, (Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main).

The emergence of the reformist Salafi Islam was from the beginning a result of a multi-level interaction between Muslim societies and modern Europe. In this process, which accompanied the transformation of the autochthonous Islamic worldview through the transfer of modern European concepts, Muslim travelers to Europe played a very decisive role. Long before the era of telecommunication, their eyewitness accounts were considered as one of the most important sources of information on Europe, its culture, and its envied technical and scientific progress. But contrary to the assumption that these visitors to Europe always represented the spearhead of liberalization and modernization in their societies, this group seems to have produced some of the fiercest critics of the emulation of Europe in the interwar and during WWII period.

Start date and time: 24 September 2015 11:00
End date and time: 24 September 2015 16:00
University of Utrecht, Drift 6, room 0.07

For registration please send an email to Ms. Soumia Middelburg:

Book Presentations

The ERC Starting Grant Project "Muslims in Interwar Europe" is pleased to announce the publication of two books during this event:

Friday 25 September 2015


In September this year millions of Muslims will be heading for Saudi Arabia to fulfill the fifth Muslim obligation of Pilgrimage. TV, Internet, modern hi-tech, cell-phones and even nowadays hajj-selfies make the picture of this ritual more visible for non-pilgrims outside the Holy Cities. But how did the Europeans perceive the hajj in picture and film in the interwar period ?

In 1928 the Dutch Indonesian engineer and film-maker G. Krugers had travelled onboard from the Dutch Indies to Mecca with his camera; and had amazingly documented this religious journey. Thefilm premiere was a red-carpet event in Leiden in 1928, introduced by the Dutch Orientalist Snouck Hurgronje and was attended by the then 19-years-old Princess Juliana.

Taking us back in history during this fascinating journey the youngest son of the filmmaker will reveal the mysteries and motivation behind the realization of this unique historical movie. A mystery in itself as he has barely known his father as the only survivor of his descendants.

Lecture-cum-Seminar Series: V

June 4th 2015

Memory and the Politics of Mass Death after the Great War

The Ottoman Empire suffered a higher rate of civilian casualties than any European country in World War I. This lecture focuses on public and collective memory of the war in Greater Syria, with emphasis on the extraordinary memoir of the last governor of Mount Lebanon, Ohannès Pasha.

Justice Interrupted: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East

The Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 were often portrayed in the media as a dawn of democracy in the region. But the revolutionaries were—and saw themselves as—heirs to a centuries-long struggle for just government and the rule of law, a struggle obstructed by local elites as well as the interventions of foreign powers. Elizabeth F. Thompson* will discuss with us the deep roots of liberal constitutionalism, political reform and violence in the Middle East through the remarkable stories of those who fought against poverty, tyranny, and foreign rule.

Elizabeth F. Thompson is professor of history at the University of Virginia. She is currently working on a sequel to Lawrence of Arabia, about the role of Islamists in establishing a liberal democracy in Damascus in 1920. Among her works is Justice Interrupted: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East (Harvard, 2013). Her first book, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (Columbia, 2000), won book prizes from the American Historical Association and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. Prof. Thompson has also won research awards from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, 10th of June, 11:00am - 4:00pm
University of Utrecht, Drift 6, room 0.07

Entrance is free however reservation is necessary.
Register via Mr. Tolga Teker:
(Weblink to the event)

Forthcoming Title:

Muslims in Interwar Europe:
A Transcultural Historical Perspective

Edited by Bekim Agai, Frankfurt University, Umar Ryad, Utrecht University, and Mehdi Sajid, Utrecht University

Muslims in Interwar Europe provides a comprehensive overview of the history of Muslims in interwar Europe. Based on personal and official archives, memoirs, press writings and correspondences, the contributors analyse the multiple aspects of the global Muslim religious, political and intellectual affiliations in interwar Europe. They argue that Muslims in interwar Europe were neither simply visitors nor colonial victims, but that they constituted a group of engaged actors in the European and international space.

Contributors: Ali Al Tuma, Egdunas Racius, Gerdien Jonker, Klaas Stutje, Naomi Davidson, Pieter Sjoerd van Koningsveld, Umar Ryad, Zaur Gasimov and Wiebke Bachmann.

This title will be available online in its entirety in Open Access.

(A proof cover design)


New Book:

Muslims in Ireland: Past and Present

Authors: Oliver Scharbrodt, Tuula Sakaranaho,Adil Hussain Khan, Yafa Shanneik and Vivian Ibrahim

The first complete study of a little known Muslim presence in Europe

Since 9/11, the interest in Muslims in Europe has increased significantly. There has been much public debate and academic research focused on Muslims living in larger Western European countries like Britain, France or Germany, but little is known of Muslims in Ireland. This book fills this gap, providing a complete study of this unexplored Muslim presence, from the arrival of the first Muslim resident in Cork, in the southwest of Ireland, in 1784 until mass immigration to the Republic of Ireland during the 'Celtic Tiger' period from the mid-1990s onwards. Muslim immigration and settlement in Ireland is very recent, and poses new challenges to a society that has perceived itself as religiously and culturally homogeneous. Ireland is also one of the least secular societies in Europe, providing a different context for Muslims seeking recognition by state and society. This book is essential for anyone who wants to understand the diversity of Muslim presences across Europe.


Lecture-cum-Seminar Series: IV

"The Moors are coming": Moroccan Soldiers, Race, Culture and War in the Spanish Civil War with Ali Al Tuma

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) brought with it the sudden entry of a large number of Muslim soldiers, alien elements, into a European society, large segments of which had never came into contact with Muslims before. Although a close Moroccan-Spanish daily encounter had already existed in Morocco, the one in Spain was a new and broader experience for both the Moroccan Muslims and the Spanish Christians. This encounter was multifaceted: it was warlike, religious and a sexual one. The positions of both parties ranged from indifference, to a hearty welcome of this intercultural meeting, to outright enmity that was often racist. More importantly, on the Spanish side, this encounter was ruled by the stereotypes about the 'Moor', both traditional and modern that reigned among the Spaniards.The presentation of Ali Al Tuma will deal with the role race and culture played in the position of the Moroccan soldiers in the Spanish army, as well as the role both played in creating separate spaces for the Moroccans. But he will also point out that the Moroccan soldiers were hardly passive agents in this intercultural meeting and that they played their part in determining their position within the new European environment they found themselves in. Topics will include the link between racial stereotypes and tactical employment; relations with Spanish civilians, the daily life of Moroccans outside the battlefield and the choices Moroccan soldiers made at the end of their military service.

Ali Al Tuma is a PhD candidate at Leiden University Institute for History. For his thesis he researches the participation of the Moroccan troops in the Spanish Civil War, particularly the relation between race, culture and war. He published a number of articles on this topic in English, Arabic and Dutch.

Tuesday, 7th of April, 11:00 - 16:00
University of Utrecht, Drift 23, room 1.06

Entrance is free however reservation is necessary.
Register via Mr. Tolga Teker:
(Weblink to the event)

Book Presentation

Features of the Moroccan Nationalism Movement in the Colonial Era by Dr. Umar Ryad

Monday 2 February 2015 - 18:00
The Netherlands-Flemish Institute Cairo 1,
Dr Mahmoud Azmi Street - Cairo

Book Signing

Features of the Moroccan Nationalism Movement in the Colonial Era by Dr. Umar Ryad

Sunday 1 February 2015 - 12:00-14:00
46th Cairo Book Fair - Saray al-Istithmar
Nasr City - Cairo International Fair Grounds

Lecture-cum-Seminar Series: III

The British Empire and the Hajj with Dr. John Slight

Britain ruled over the largest number of Muslims in the world, ranging from West Africa across the Middle East to India and Southeast Asia. Every year, tens of thousands of Muslim subjects living in Britain's Muslim empire left their homes to travel to the Hijaz in order to perform the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. In this seminar Dr. John Slight will examine the material realities of how the British Empire engaged with the pilgrimage from the 1860s to the 1950s, motivated by factors such as the threat of epidemic disease, notions of religious and political legitimacy, prestige, and geopolitical rivalry with other imperial powers. It will detail how Britain ended up facilitating the pilgrimage for its subjects, especially those termed "pauper pilgrims" who were stranded in Arabia after completing their Hajj due to lack of funds, emphasise the vital role played by Muslims in Britain's various consular and colonial bureaucracies in the administration of the Hajj, and show how imperial geopolitics affected the Hajj during the First World War and the Saudi takeover of Mecca in 1924.

Thursday, 5th of February, 11:00 - 16:00
University of Utrecht, Drift 6, room 0.07

Entrance is free however reservation is necessary.
Register via Mr. Tolga Teker:
(Weblink to the event)

Lecture-cum-Seminar Series: II

'The Ahmadiyya mission in Interwar Europe' with Dr. Gerdien Jonker

The seminar adds to the recent discussion on the cultural imprint of Muslims on interwar Europe. Berlin especially offered a stage on which it proved perfectly possible for Indians and Germans, Muslims and Jews, Arabs and Europeans, to meet and think about cultural traditions together. In this cultural focal point, Ahmadiyya played the role of metropolitans from the periphery, offering a peace message that disturbed the status quo.

Monday, 1st of December (10:00-12:00 & 13:00-15:00)
University of Utrecht, Drift 23, 0.13/ 3512 BR, Utrecht

Entrance is free however reservation is necessary.
Register via Mr. Tolga Teker:
(Weblink to the event)

5th annual LUCIS conference: "Jihad and other uses of Islam in World War I"

On Thursday 13 and Friday 14 November 2014, the 5th annual LUCIS conference entitled "Jihad and other uses of Islam in World War I: Instrumentalization of Religion by the Ottoman Empire, its Allies, and its Enemies" will be organised in Leiden.

Convenor: Professor Erik-Jan Zürcher.

Mustafa Aksakal (Georgetown University)
Touraj Atabaki (Leiden University)
Mehmet Beşikçi (Yildiz Technical University)
Léon Buskens (Leiden University)
Martin Gussone (Technical University of Berlin)
Şükrü Hanioğlu (Princeton University)
Erol Köroğlu (Bosphorus University)
Tilman Lüdke (University of Freiburg)
Driss Maghraoui (Al Akhawayn University)
Nicole van Os (Leiden University)
Ahmad al-Rawi (Erasmus University)
Amr Ryad (Utrecht University)
Joshua Teitelbaum (Bar-Ilan University)
Hans Theunissen (Leiden University)

Thursday 13 (09:30) and Friday 14 (10:00) November 2014 in Leiden

Venue: Academy building (room 2) in Leiden.
Participants are required to register via de following e-mail address:
(Weblink to the event)

Lecture-cum-Seminar Series: I

'Muslims under German Rule, 1941-1945' with Dr. David Motadel

16 October 2014 (10:00-12:00 & 13:00-15:00) University of Utrecht Drift 23, 0.13

Entrance is free, but reservation is necessary!
Please send an email to Tolga Teker:

(Attached file)

Book Presentation & Lecture

''Transnational Islam in interwar Europe: Muslim Activists and Thinkers'
by Götz Nordbruch & Umar Ryad (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

'The Making of Muslim Communities in Western Europe, 1918-1939'by David Motadel

15 October 2014 (15:00- 17:00) University of Utrecht Drift 25, room 0.02

Everybody is welcome!

(Attached file)

Copyright © 2015 ERC Project Neither visitors, nor colonial victims: Muslims in Interwar Europe- Utrecht, The Netherlands