10 January 2018
In my experience, I have found that people in Edinburgh are generally very tolerant of diversity, including religious diversity, and this has made my transition to a new country much easier.
Here are several useful pointers to help a new Muslim student settle into Edinburgh.
Places for Salat
Mosques or prayer rooms are available in several different parts of the city. The mosque nearest to the University of Edinburgh central area is Edinburgh Central Mosque, which is less than 0.1 miles away and just a few minutes on foot.
If you live southwest of the central campus, you might consider attending Jumu’ah Salat (Friday prayer) in Idara Taleem or Mescid-i Eyüp.
Salat time in Edinburgh can fluctuate greatly compared to cities in other countries. During winter, daylight hours are shorter and during summer they are much longer. As a result, the time that Salat takes place can differ by around 1-3 hours. The table below illustrates the Salat time differences throughout a year:
This difference can be crucial to Muslim students. For example, on 1 October the Zohar Salat end time is 16:48, so if you have a class from 14:00-16:00 then you will manage to do Zohar Salat after the class. Two weeks later, however, the Zohar Salat end time changes to 16:18 and it's unlikely that you will make it in time for prayer after the class.
In my experience, it is always better to keep an eye on the Salat schedule every day, by either having an android application like EdMosque or by looking at the Salat schedule online.
The direction of the Qibla
The direction of the Qibla (which is the direction that Muslims face when praying) in Edinburgh is to the South East. If you don’t have a compass, then a practical thing that you can do is use a google map application to determine which direction you are currently facing.
Finding halal food is not difficult, especially if you live around the University of Edinburgh central area. There are plenty of stores/supermarkets that sell halal food, like Maqbools or Bismillah.
If you live around Gorgie Road, Ya Kareem food store and Amma Spices Super Store can also sell you halal food.
While most food products in general stores/supermarkets in Edinburgh will not have a Halal label on them, vegetarian foods are widely available and clearly marked. This can help identify which foods may be Halal and which are not.
As I mentioned before, Scotland's high latitude means daylight hours are shorter in winter and longer in summer, at which time it might not get dark until around 22:00. This means that during Ramadhan when Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset/Magrib, there will be years when the fasting period is relatively short, and other years when the fasting period is much longer. Ramadhan moves forward 10 days each year, and this year (2018) Ramadhan takes places from 16 May to 14 June. So, the fasting period will be a long one - roughly around 17 hours, as shown below.
I'd better prepare myself, since this year I will still be in Edinburgh for Ramadhan! ?
I hope this blog has been useful for new Muslim students arriving in Edinburgh. Do you have any tips to add?
Deddy Irfandy, MSc Finance