By Hany Salah, IOL Correspondent
BERLIN — After inspecting dozens of well-known buildings, a four-member panel of veteran architects concluded that the Islamic Forum in Penzberg, a mosque and Islamic center, is the best work of architecture done in Bavaria in five years.
“This prize is very important for us, not just as architects but as Muslims,” architect Alen Jasarevic, a Muslim of Bosnian background, told IslamOnline.net.
“We have proven that Muslims can have their own contributions. We are proud that the mosque, with its design as well as activities, has become an attraction for thousands.”
Built in 2005, the Islamic Forum has a breathtaking design that sets well with the architecture of its surroundings.
Jasarevic arranged the prayer room, the communal and administrative rooms and an apartment under a single roof on an L-shaped ground plan.
The sand-colored building has a full-height decorative blue glass façade and a minaret – a column decorated with Arabic words calling the faithful to prayer.
The entrance features two concrete slabs that swing out of the wall like open gates, inviting visitors into the house in German and Arabic script.
The building, which is flooded with light, has a specious prayer room, a big library, two halls and classes for students.
Inside, one is greeted by a classical, open-plan staircase that is flooded with daylight. To the right, the view opens up into the prayer room.
The way the light falls draws attention to the ceiling and wall panels.
The abstract star motifs contain the 99 Names of Allah – such as “The Most Merciful” – in calligraphy.
In the middle of the hall, there’s a second floor. This is a gallery which is reserved for women, so that men and women cannot see each other.
“This prize is an honor to our city,” Penzberg Mayor Hans Mummert told the awarding ceremony on Friday, October 17.
Benjamin Idriz, the head of the Islamic Forum, described the prize win as “unprecedented.”
“This is the first time in German history that a mosque is awarded a prize,” he told IOL.
“The Penzberg mosque is recognized for its magnificent architecture as well as educational, cultural and social activities.”
The mosque has been organizing tours for people of other faiths and students to get a glimpse of the Islamic faith and Muslims.
“The mosque is organizing religious and language courses as well as forums and workshops,” said Idriz.
“It has also been a magnet for students preparing thesis on Islam and Muslims.”
More than 15,000 Germans have visited the mosque since its inauguration in 2005.
“I was impressed with the spiritual atmosphere inside the mosque,” writes a non-Muslim German in the visitors’ book.
“Our visit to the mosque gave us a new perception about Islam and Muslims and helped clear many misconceptions.”