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Arabic speaking Shia communities in Germany

There are many Iraqi and some Lebanese who form the Arabic Shia communities in Germany and they are especially active on religiously important days, such as during Muharram. These activities include hiring large assembly halls, mostly in industrial suburban areas of German cities, in order to provide services for their Shia community and for other Shias living in the vicinity. Large crowds made up of the members of the Shia community in Germany go to theses halls to attend the ceremonies held there for special occasions. As is the case with the majority of Shia communities, they invite religious specialists, preachers and/or reciters for the occasion from their respective countries of origin or from other centers of Shia populations in Europe, such as London. One striking example is Mannheim in south-west Germany, where the Iraqis organize such events, parallel to another Lebanese Shia community in the near vicinity. Refugee participation gives new momentum to the need to provide multi-language services, which is possible as Arabic-speaking clerics often have some command of Persian, having studied for some time in Iran.

Another large Iraqi community observed was one in Essen in the Ruhr area,  which  had  rented  a  restaurant  for  the  Muharram  evenings  in  2015. The reason is the popularity of offering votive food and drinks to the Shia communities who are mourning in Muharram among Shias. Although they have a strong Iraqi Arab identity, a considerable number of Persian-speaking Shias (mostly of Afghan origin) took part in the gatherings. Consequently, besides the Arabic-speaking preacher and reciters imported from Iraq, a Persian-speaking rowze-khwan was also invited. In addition, a young second-generation German-speaking person was asked to give a sermon in German.

Such activities can little by little diminish the distinction between different Shia communities since these are the activities that Shias do together to increase their unity regardless of the place they live in.

To know more about practicing Shia rituals in Turkish Shia community of Germany, check our previous post.

Taken from ” Shiite “Communities of Practice” in Germany”

Written by: Robert Langer and  Benjamin Weineck



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