Frankfurt: Millions of people fled Ukraine after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Many of them came from the Middle East.
Frankfurt, Germany’s largest mosque, is trying to make Ramadan a joyful experience for its citizens.
The Abu Bakr Mosque is located in Hausen and is one of approximately 50 mosques in Frankfurt. It was opened in 2007 and has been through many crises.
Mohamed Seddadi (51-year-old German-Moroccan male who was the mosque’s administrator) still remembers all of them. He faced his first crisis after the attacks on September 11.
Sedadi and his coworkers finally received a permit to construct the mosque one year ago. They aren’t sure if the mosque should be built, as Islamophobia is increasing.
Arab News reported that “then local politicians, including the mayor, visited our house and told us that we must build it more than ever.” “They provided comfort.”
Seddadi first arrived in Frankfurt in 1990 to study. Seddadi joined a group that met regularly to pray and discuss Islam in 1992. He had tried other Muslim groups but none appealed to his.
He stated, “This does not have borders so I feel at home.” “Faith should never have borders.”
Sedadi believed it was more than faith that was required to be loyal to Germany. “I love this nation and its freedom. This is my country.
The foundations for the mosque building were laid many years ago. In 1996, the group bought a Howen manor, where worshippers could pray, and constructed a former auto shop.
“We had two main goals at the time: raising donations to build a mosque, and learning about the surrounding area,” Sedadi said.
All faiths are invited to share meals during Islamic celebrations. “We’re good neighbours and that’s important for us.”
The two-story building can host more than 1,000 people during prayer and was inaugurated in 2007.
Two imams, one from Egypt and one from Morocco, lead prayers and preaching. Seddadi wishes to have a third German Imam. He said, “I want to see a German imam who was raised, educated and born here.”
The basement hosts a restaurant that serves North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s open to all.
COVID-19, which struck in 2020, brought another crisis to the mosque. The mosque’s prayer area was not able to function at its full capacity when it was affected by COVID-19.
Seddadi, the imams and the two imams get about 30 calls per hour as the community’s concerns and need for spiritual guidance grows.
Seddadi, along with his colleagues, have opened a new restaurant.
The war in Ukraine is the most recent crisis. Seddadi and his coworkers were shocked by it.
He stated, “We never expected things to get so serious.” “The war has come so close, we have to have it.”
The meeting was attended by representatives of all nine Frankfurt mosques. The participants took several decisions to assist those in need.
Over 5 million Ukrainian refugees fled Ukraine after the war began. More than 360,000 of them have made their way to Germany.
Many are from North Africa and Middle East, with Ukraine having tens to thousands of communities from these regions.
Seddadi aims to make Ramadan more joyful by providing them with all the support they need. The mosque’s kitchen staff prepare and cook meals every year for those in dire need.
Meals are delivered to the refugee camps or taken by the refugees right in front of the mosque. Seddadi and his coworkers coordinate closely with management of the camp to accomplish this.
Kitchen staff must prepare 150 meals each day to achieve these goals.
“It’s hard,” Sedadi said. “But we cannot refuse anyone in crisis.” Nearby volunteers, including non-Muslims offered their assistance.
Sedadi is very proud of the mosque’s openness during Ramadan. The staff also serves menus for non-Muslims in Ukraine. Sedadi stated that iftar is a combination of charity and food. “Anyone in need will be provided with something to eat,” he said.
As the war in Ukraine raged on, he only had one wish: To stop it as soon and as much as possible. It was simply too much to bear the images and stories that I saw.