‘The Edinburgh Muslim Community Association’ is a non-sectarian grass roots organisation formed in 2004 by a group of committed converts to Islam and Muslim youth of Scotland. Its aims are to establish a link between the Scottish Muslim community and the general public, and to provide practical assistance, care, support and promote unity within the Muslim community.
Although there are many mosques in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland there is no organisation providing a dedicated full-time Islamic information and support service in Scotland. Mosques tend to cater exclusively for their Muslim clientele and often do not appear to be open or attractive to the public. Any help usually takes the form of dry literature or occasional conversation, if anyone can be found. We believe people are eager for correct information about the religion of Islam and the social climate in this country has only increased this need.
As a group we have identified that the current Muslim institutes are not catering adequately for the needs of their attendees, especially women, youth and converts to Islam. As a result there is an urgent need for programs, facilities and support for the Muslim communities relevant to the time we are living in, the place where we live and the language of the land. Hoping to fill in the gaps and to try and help cater for our communities needs we felt it necessary to form our own organisation to tackle these issues.
Our primary concern is for our own community, who face many problems such as: Islamophobia, racism, discrimination, forced marriages, domestic violence, mental health and identity issues, and unemployment to name a few. Although we primarily serve our own Muslim community, our community is one of many in Scotland. We feel that it is our duty to connect with our fellow Scots and the various faith communities around us and help them come to a better understanding of what we as Muslims believe and how we perceive the world in which we live. We aim to become an interface for the general public and the Muslim communities to; interact and communicate effectively, obtain trustworthy information about the Islamic faith and to have open and honest dialogue so that we can promote learning and understanding to help strengthen bridges between our communities and build upon present community relationships and initiatives.
As converts to the religion of Islam and having been brought up in this country, we have found that there are many intrinsic problems within the Muslim communities that, among many reasons, are the result of cultural influence and the desire to integrate into western society. These influences have the result that culture often gets confused with practice. Quite often we are faced with the challenge of trying to differentiate between the ‘cultural’ and the ‘religious’ aspects of the Islamic faith. This is mostly due to the fact that our perception of the Islamic faith is normally through the culture of the person presenting Islam to us and that no one can truly claim to represent islam as a whole.
Our organisation aims to provide an understanding of Islam with minimal cultural impact and paradoxically establish our own cultural identity within the U.K. as Scottish Muslims. We hope to provide a blank canvas of expression for all of the different Islamic cultures who use our services including traditional Scottish culture.
Regarding the needs of Muslims, we are particulary concerned that convert Muslims who are increasing in number each year (anywhere between 25,000 to 100,000) have no voice or organisation in Scotland reflecting their particular needs. There are also many problems facing ‘traditional’ Muslims, especially women and particularly the youth who face alienation and exclusion which “is having an affect on their psyche…and may lead them to be more prone to extremism” (Masud: 2005.) Our organisation has a zero tolerance stance against terrorist and extremist interpretations of Islam and we under no circumstances tolerate sectarianism, a growing problem within the Islamic faith.
We believe the best way to achieve our aims would be to establish a ‘drop-in’ centre providing many services under one roof. This centre would be used to:
provide a space for non-Muslims and Muslims to interact,
provide a place where to obtain reliable information on the teachings of the religion of Islam in all its diversity,
provide a space to put on public talks, workshops and programs,
provide a space for educational programs,
provide a space where people could gather to socialise,
provide a space where people could seek counsel and companionship,
provide a space where Muslims could hold their spiritual gatherings,
as well as many other activities.
In short, a safe Haven for people. We hope to provide a space with a relaxed atmosphere, where people feel comfortable to express themselves and share their experience without inhibition and to explore the dimensions of what Islam is.
Without our home we have still been active for the past few years putting on public talks in Edinburgh, please see ‘Our Events’ page for more info, we do also offer personal advice, assistance on a one to one basis.
We believe our vision of a centre that provides support, information and education to the Scottish Communities both Muslim and Non-Muslim will go along way to start eliminating the current difficulties we are facing within Scottish society and with the support of our respective communities we can all contribute to a much brighter future for the nation of Scotland, Amen.
For more info on how you can get involved please contact us.
“We must strengthen the links between different faiths, ethnic groups and nationalities
to create a modern Scotland that will grow and thrive.” (Malcolm Chisholm: 2006)