Picture a Mosque, where, at the back when it's not prayer time, Muslims and non Muslims of all walks of life congregate daily to eat, chat and give charity. This is Edinburgh Central Mosque, Scotland. Started a number of years ago to raise money for Scottish and Afghan charities (all profits go to these causes - the kitchen is run by volunteers) the mosque has attracted many loyal customers - most of whom are non Muslim. It's great to go to University and hear people raving about the food at the Mosque - the food is cheap, plentiful and authentic. It serves authentic Indian and Pakistani food, and although the menu is not large, portions are so generous and tasty at half the price of neighbouring curry houses that it is definitely one of the most valued eateries in the city. However it is not like any other restaurant. Food is served canteen style and seating is expanded outdoors in this cold city, under cover of tarpaulin - it's a mosque after all. They've recently expanded further into a building near the mosque which serves food buffet and diner style.
The mosque itself was fashioned with the traditional features of a mosque like a minaret, but in the style of traditional Scottish architecture. So much about it is a model for integration and acceptance which goes both ways. Not only is it refreshing to be in a city where people spend time at the mosque and think nothing of it, and are even fond of it - as though it is any another restaurant but also the other way round. By welcoming non muslims into the fold, in such a universal way like food and charity, those at the mosque are reaching out too. The mosque has taken advantage of Edinburgh's almost constant stream of world famous festivals by holding educational events where everyone is welcome to come along and learn a bit about Islam, including art, science and history.
And to bring the point home, some of the workers are white, Scottish 'reverts'. It's a fantastic place. In this city, I haven't come across so much discrimination or ignorance and I think this is one of the reasons why.
Some quotes from Edinburgh Residents:
Legendary. If you're expecting ambience, luxury or proper cutlery don't come here. But it's places like this that give this city it's character - and the food is tasty at frankly unbelievable prices - Gavin
The offer huge dishes for next to nothing! The food is delicious and the people there are beyond wonderful.
It feels like you're getting a cuddle every time you're in here, it's a total diamond in the rough! - Emily
This is the best. place. in. Edinburgh. ever. - Julia.