|Type of Building:||Mosque with minarett|
|Area:||approximately 179 m2|
|Building height:||18 m|
|Cost:||Approximately CHF 350,000|
|Owner:||Imam Mushtaq Bajwa|
|Architects:||Ernst Göhner and Fritz Badertscher|
|Laying of the first stone:||25th August 1962|
|Construction period:||10 months|
|Inauguration:||22nd June 1963|
|Religious tradition:||Ahmadiyya movement|
|Conception through to inauguration:||approximately 12 years|
The mosque is located on the busy Forchstrasse close to the Balgrist tram stop.
If one takes the train in Zurich towards Rehalp, a white pillar appears just before Balgrist station. It rises from a small, also white, cubic building, and on sunny days its conical tip stands out sharply against the blue sky. The pretty mosque nestles itself into the row of houses made up of standard apartments, as if ingrained. For the residents it has long been taken for granted.
Right next to the mosque is a bakery and on the opposite side of the road is the almost twice as large tower of the Evangelical Reformed church, in whose shadow the minaret seems small. At the top of the 18 m high minaret sits a green crescent. The mosque has a cupola of about 3.5 m in diameter, although this can hardly be seen from the road. Above the entrance to the right sweeping Arabic lettering declares the Islamic creed. Inside the mosque are a flat, a classroom and the actual prayer hall with cupola.
As mission is a central concern of the Ahmadiyya movement, in the 1950s they wanted to establish a branch in Switzerland, and asked Sheikh Nasir Ahmad, the then mission leader in Switzerland, to build a mosque. On 15th August 1962 Nawab Amatul Hafiz Begum, daughter of the founder of the movement, laid the foundation stone for the fifth Ahmadiyya mosque in Europe. The dedication took place just one year later, led by Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan’s first foreign minister after independence. Also present was the then mayor Emil Landolt, who was a huge support, says Sadaqat Ahmad, the current Imam (prayer leader, community leader).
Sadaqat Ahmad describes himself as «Imam and missionary of the Ahmadiyya movement of Islam in Switzerland». As Imam he not only leads the community in obligatory prayers, but acts generally as community leader. As the Ahmadiyya movement emphasises the peaceful spread of Islam, Sadaqat Ahmad also sees himself as a missionary.
According to Sadaqat Ahmad the relationship with the neighbourhood is ideal. The Ahmadiyya community has never had problems with local residents, he says. On the contrary, the Evangelical church parish provides parking spaces for Friday prayers in the mosque, and even the church premises for larger events in the Muslim community. The Imam runs the mosque as an open house. Many schools, residents, politicians and various organisations in the district and in the Zurich area have already accepted the invitation, he says.
The Pakistani Ahmadiyya movement («Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat») was founded by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908). He believed in a unifying truth of all religions, and thus for him Buddha, Confucious, Krishna, Zarathustra were ambassadors of God, but not God incarnate. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed himself reformer and Mahdi (messiah) of the End Times. He saw his mission not in establishing a new religion, but in reawakening the «crusted over» Islam. This claim and the missionary activity of the movement led to strong inter-Islamic opposition. In Pakistan, for example, the movement has no longer been considered to belong to Islam since 1974, and since 1984 has been forbidden there.
Text : Edwin Egeter
Photos : Edwin Egeter
«Cupola – Temple – Minaret» is a Project by the Center for Research on Religions, Lucerne
Last updated: 12th March 2013
© 2009-2015 Department for the Study of Religion, University of Lucerne