10 January 2018

As a Muslim, Islam requires us to do Salat (prayer), to eat halal food and to fast. Being in new surroundings in a new country, Muslim students might struggle initially to keep up with these worships without the necessary information and insights. Here, I will try to share my experience as a Muslim adapting to life as a student in Edinburgh.
Image of Edinburgh

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

Edinburgh Central Mosque

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.

Idara Taleem and Mescid-i Eyup mosques map view

Salat Time

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:

No Day Fajr Sunrise Zohar Asr Magrib Isha
Jan 2018
1 Mon 06:45 08:44 12:16 14:01 15:49 17:48
Jun 2018
21 Thu 02:50 04:26 13:14 19:03 22:03 23:39

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 everyday, 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.

Halal Food

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.

Maqbools and Bismillah map view

If you live around Gorgie Road, Ya Kareem food store and Amma Spices Super Store can also sell you halal food.

Ya Kareem map view

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.

Fasting

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 where the fasting period is relatively short, and other years where 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.

No Day Fajr Sunrise Zohar Asr Magrib Isha
May 2018
31 Thu 02:53 04:36 13:10 18:52 21:45 23:28

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