The number of Germans who accept Islam "is rising each
year" and they "are getting younger and younger,"
confirmed the director of a Muslim cultural center in
the capital Berlin.
"Many are looking for new lifestyles and some sense of
direction," Herzog-turned Mohammed – a former
Protestant who worked in a social welfare center for
Turkish immigrants for many years, told Agence
France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, October 25.
To all appearances Herr Herzog is an average German,
but on Sunday, October 26, he will be one of a growing
number of his compatriots to observe the Muslim
fasting month of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of
their faith, according to AFP.
Herzog converted to Islam in 1979 when he realized
that "the Qur'an gathered together everything I had
ever believed in."
Today he is the director of a Muslim cultural center
in the capital Berlin and he maintains that the number
of Germans who embrace Islam "is rising each year."
The central institute on Islam archives estimates that
about 12,400 people born in Germany to German parents
are Muslims, with the total Muslim population set at
around 3.5 million people, most of them of Turkish
Each year, the institute issues between 350 and 400
documents in German and Arabic, complete with identity
photograph, as proof people have converted.
"It would be an exaggeration to talk of a rash of
conversions," the center director Salim Abdullah told
Nevertheless, the document gives its owner the right
to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, another of the five
pillars of Islam which has to be performed at least
once in a lifetime, provided the believer is both
financially and physically able.
Norbert Mueller grew up with almost no exposure to
religious instruction, but he says he has found warmth
and "the feeling that he belongs to a community" with
his Turkish and Arab friends in the northern city of
A 41-year-old practicing lawyer, Mueller embraced
Islam in 1991 and has married a Muslim woman from
When he was a student, he used to go to bars with
other Germans, but some grew irritated when he refused
to drink a beer with them.
"I never realized that alcohol played such an
important role in one's social life," says Mueller,
who now mainly frequents other Muslims.
"Impossible To Know How Many"
According to Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, a Leipzig University
professor and author of a study on religious
conversions in Germany and the United States, it is
impossible to know how many people have become
Professing one's faith before another Muslim is enough
to convert, she says.
"The majority are people whose spouses are Muslims.
Nothing obliges though to convert," Wohlrab-Sahr says.
"Many of them have difficult pasts that pose them
problems, they are looking for discipline in their
By becoming Muslims, though, they are confronted with
"The newest of converts have to deal with a new world
which they have to assimilate," says Norbert Mueller.
"They have to find their way and for that reason some
give the impression they are observing the rules 150
percent, but it's usually a passing phase."
Nor does Wohlrab-Sahr see this as a big issue.
"One could say that some new converts follow the rules
in a particularly strict way. But that's a tendency
one finds with all converts, Catholics included," she