Germany and the Muslim World
The relations between the world of Islam and Germany (or what was then the Holy Roman Empire) date back far into the Middle Ages and were particularly intense during the times of the Crusades. However, Muslims came to Germany in larger numbers as part of the diplomatic, military and economic relations between Germany and the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. German diplomats and travellers, in turn, visited the Ottoman lands as well as Safavid Persia from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, respectively. In Muslim public opinion, Germany appears to have been always seen as the ‘friend of the Muslims’, a kind of ‘exception’ compared with other Western colonial powers which controlled large chunks of the Muslim homeland. Germany - so it was thought - had no colonial ambitions in the Dar al-Islam. Germany’s last emperor, William II (r. 1888-1918), during his famous 1898 speech in Damascus, declared himself the ‘eternal friend’ of the (then) 300 million Muslims in the world.