Press Release

“By the Pen”: Live Calligraphy Display

August 25, 2007

Running from 1-31 August every year, the Islam Festival has a longer run than most – but all good things in this life must come to an end. But fear not, there is a whole week left in the Discover Islam Exhibition!

This weekend we are graced again by Haji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang, the master calligrapher from China who spent a week at the Islam Festival Edinburgh in 2006.

After his highly successful workshop on Friday 24th August [pictures below], he will spend all of Saturday and Sunday with a special exhibit, where his artwork will be available for purchase. Personalised pieces are also available!

Unrolling a scroll

Surrounded by students

Teaching an enthusiastic student

Visit by Sir Menzies Campbell

August 17, 2007

Two weeks after its 2007 launch, the Islam Festival Edinburgh (IFe) welcomed another high-profile visitor, Sir Menzies Campbell. The Liberal Democrat party leader, who lives in Edinburgh, visited the exhibition at Edinburgh Central Mosque along with John Barrett, MP for Edinburgh West, on Thursday 16th August.




Edinburgh Evening News featured a glowing review by Brian Hennigan of the Islam Festival’s centrepiece, the Discover Islam Exhibition at Edinburgh’s largest mosque.

The truth about Islam is a mosque-see show

August 14, 2007

POSSIBLY one of the best Fringe shows in Edinburgh is a local production that doesn’t cost a penny to see – and I’m not talking about the daily “life with the jaikies” soap opera that is enacted around the Old Town throughout the day.

Indeed, by comparison to most Fringe shows, the one I am talking about doesn’t offer a lot of action, given that the show in question is actually an exhibition. That said, given the importance of the subject, it doesn’t really need an all-singing all-dancing cast to justify your attention.

The venue is the Edinburgh Central Mosque and the show is the Discover Islam exhibition. Before you avert your eyes with weary dread, let me explain that I am not going to tell you that this exhibition will change your life. Maybe it will for one in a thousand but for the most part all this simple and thoughtful exhibition will do is help you understand what “that Islam thing” is all about.

This is important because, at a time when our headlines and opinion columns are dominated by allegedly Islam-related activities, very few of us, I suspect, have any real idea what Islam actually is.

Furthermore, certain media coverage would have the words “Islam” and “international terrorism” linked in the same way that Hearts have become synonymous with the phrase “strange turn of events”.

Naturally therefore it took me quite a while to pluck up the courage to visit the Discover Islam exhibition. Despite the fact that the Edinburgh Central Mosque has a series of friendly, inviting banners all around it, I knew this might be some sort of clever trick. Nevertheless, only a week after the exhibition opened, I made my way into the little courtyard off Nicolson Street, undeterred by the daunting “Exhibition – This Way” signs. Even when a passing Muslim smiled and said “hiya”, I showed no fear.

Upon entering, you will be as shocked as I was to discover not a horde of AK-47s being oiled for use by boy-soldiers but, instead, a series of posters and information points – there’s even a touchscreen computer – explaining what Islam is, how it came about, what Muslims should believe.

Here are some facts. Less than 15 per cent of Muslims live in the Arab world. Muslims believe that the Christian God and their God are one and the same. There is substantial overlap between Christianity and Islam – for example the names Adam, Noah, Ezekiel and Jesus all figure in the Quran. Indeed, the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be upon Him) was a direct descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of Abraham. Incidentally, it is acceptable to abbreviate Peace Be upon Him – which must always figure after mention of the Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) – to PBUH. The Quran itself is considered to be the exact words of God as revealed through the Archangel Gabriel. A lot of what is taught in the Quran is similar to that which is taught in the Bible – for example: “God does not judge you according to your appearances but He looks into your heart and observes your deeds.”

Now knowing any and all of this will not necessarily bring about world peace and global justice. But what this exhibition can hope to achieve is a better understanding of their religion and beliefs. Now, I am no friend of organised religion. However, to dismiss without researching what it is that an increasing number of people around the world believe in is to operate in ignorance.

It will not take more than 30 minutes at the very most for someone to get round the main aspects of Discover Islam. You will emerge from the exhibition a wiser, better-informed person, which is significantly more than can be said for the after-effects of most Fringe shows. Furthermore, not only will it not have cost you a penny, you will also have helped in small, highly personal way to have bridged the gap between communities. I’m glad I went.

Food is answer to your prayers

THE Edinburgh Central Mosque might have only one exhibition but it has two attractions. Apart from Discover Islam, the same little courtyard off Nicolson Street is also home to the Mosque Kitchen, which can only be described as the best diner in town.

Open from noon until 8pm, it serves up a magnificently tasty array of meals at what can only be described as stunning prices – £3 for two shish kebabs with naan bread, anyone? And you get to eat your nosh sitting down at one of their outdoor, covered wooden tables.

If there is a better value in Central Edinburgh than this eatery, please write in and let me know.

Islam Festival builds bridges, tackles issues

August 10, 2007

More than a week after its 2007 launch, the Islam Festival Edinburgh (IFe) is enjoying increasing popularity among the festival-going public, and is preparing for a number of thought-provoking events.

In a Festival year with numerous shows focusing in some way on Islam and extremism (such as Jihad: the Musical and Denied), so far hundreds of locals and tourists have visited the Edinburgh Central Mosque to meet real members of the faith. This weekend is set to attract thousands, with exotic sweets, teas and coffees distributed free alongside the Discover Islam Exhibition.

The weekend will also feature two special events aimed at tackling sensitive issues and furthering dialogue. On Saturday 11th August, Idris Tawfiq, British writer and former Catholic priest, will speak on the title “Who’d be a Muslim these days?“, addressing areas of misunderstanding and touching on his own journey to Islam. On Sunday 12th August, a panel of female speakers will discuss “Muslim Women: On the Fringe?“.

Another highlight event will take place on Sunday 19th August. Imam Ahmad Saad of London’s Finsbury Park Mosque, famous for its past troubles of extremism, will discuss “Islam, Peace and the Modern World“, defining concepts such as jihad and terrorism.

IFe manager Sohaib Saeed commented: “The exhibition at Central Mosque is the ideal way for anyone in Edinburgh to encounter the true teachings of Islam and have any questions answered. We open our doors and invite people to come with open minds.”

First Minister’s message

August 5, 2007



Message from First Minister Alex Salmond’s Private Secretary:

“The First Minister wishes to assure you that he is very aware of the importance of such a festival to promote awareness and understanding of Muslim faith and life to the public in Edinburgh. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr MacAskill, has already applauded the Discover Islam Exhibition which he saw during his visit to the Central Mosque earlier this month.

“Please pass on the First Minister’s best wishes for a successful Islam Festival.”

Mosque Kitchen is Scotsman’s Number 1!

August 2, 2007

The Scotsman newspaper placed the Edinburgh Central Mosque’s adjoining restaurant top of their list of Best Festival Food as published on the 1st of August. The entry by Claire Smith was as follows:

Round the back of the Mosque in Potterrow, you’ll find a hugely popular open-air café which serves rice, dhall, chapatis and meat and vegetable dishes. The canteen-style service is informal and cheery and you can eat a hearty meal under the umbrellas for around a fiver. It’s called the Lunch Box, but it’s open in the evenings as well. All the curries are cooked in olive oil. The folk from the Edinburgh Islamic Centre say the Lunch Box is all about building links with the community and making everyone feel welcome.

The Islam Festival Edinburgh has received its own newspaper coverage and its manager has so far been interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland, Forth FM and Talk 107.


George Kerevan wrote on 11th August:

My own favourite festival food stop is the café run by the Edinburgh Central Mosque in Potter Row, which serves up copious amounts of decent curry for a modest price, and where you can be in and out between Fringe shows yet still feel you had a proper meal.

And Brian Hennigan wrote on 14th August:

THE Edinburgh Central Mosque might have only one exhibition but it has two attractions. Apart from Discover Islam, the same little courtyard off Nicolson Street is also home to the Mosque Kitchen, which can only be described as the best diner in town.

Open from noon until 8pm, it serves up a magnificently tasty array of meals at what can only be described as stunning prices – £3 for two shish kebabs with naan bread, anyone? And you get to eat your nosh sitting down at one of their outdoor, covered wooden tables.

If there is a better value in Central Edinburgh than this eatery, please write in and let me know.

Keynote address by Cllr Jenny Dawe

August 1, 2007

I am delighted to be here this morning representing the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who has asked me to say how sorry he is that he is not able to be here himself.

I am particularly pleased that I am the Bailie here at this Opening Ceremony. Wearing that civic title of Bailie, and as political Leader of the Council, I believe very strongly that Edinburgh should be an open, welcoming city to and for people of all cultures and beliefs. The city values its diverse communities and appreciates just how much our many different communities add to the richness of Edinburgh’s life. But we all realise that, especially in an era of international tension, we have to work very hard at understanding and respecting the backgrounds and beliefs of those around us. We have to make sure that the ignorance that is often the cause of prejudice is addressed at every age and at every level of understanding.

The City of Edinburgh Council tries to play its part in promoting knowledge, starting with the young. For example, all schools now have revised religious education materials that include Islam; and all have a dedicated teacher to promote awareness of different faiths and cultures in the city. I know that many school groups have visited this and other Mosques in Edinburgh.

The Islam Festival Edinburgh that starts today and runs to 31st August here at the Central Mosque provides education in an excellent way. Opening your Mosque and Cultural Centre, inviting people in to experience your vibrant culture and faith, is very important in two particular ways:
1. It helps to promote better awareness and understanding of Islam as a major world faith; and
2. It helps to tackle the ignorance that can lead to discrimination and prejudice directed towards Muslims and people of other faiths

I note that your exciting programme of events includes a talk with the provocative title, “Who’d be a Muslim these days?”; a workshop and display of the art of Arabic calligraphy; and a presentation of Qur’anic recitation.

But the highlight for many residents of Edinburgh and visitors to the city is the opportunity to visit the Discover Islam Exhibition. This exhibition provides an easy way for people to learn something about the religion and culture of Muslims. It is an excellent way for people to really begin to understand what being a Muslim is all about. I am sure the exhibition will be as popular this year as it has been in past years.

This Islam Festival, as you may know, is part of the broader Festival of Peace and Spirituality, run by the Edinburgh Inter Faith Association. The Council works closely with the Inter Faith Association using it to provide the formal mechanism to consult and involve all faith groups in the city, with a particular focus on Islamic groups and organisations.

Even in these days of tight budgets and a need to cut down on expenses, the City of Edinburgh Council is very happy to continue to support organisations and events like this one that bring people together in a spirit of friendliness and tolerance. The gain in social harmony far outweighs the cost.

On behalf of the Lord Provost and the City of Edinburgh Council, I wish the Islam Festival 2007 every success in the many and varied events to come over the next four weeks.

Jenny Dawe,
City of Edinburgh Council

Month-long Islam Festival commences in Edinburgh

July 31, 2007

Festival launch 2006

The Islam Festival Edinburgh (IFe), a month-long collection of events promoting understanding of Muslim faith and life, will commence on Wednesday 1st August with a special ceremony to open its pivotal feature: the Discover Islam Exhibition.

The Exhibition, which is part of the Festival Fringe and has run successfully at Edinburgh Central Mosque for the past five years, will be opened with a ceremony attended by various dignitaries including MSPs and interfaith representatives. At noon, the Exhibition will be opened officially by Edinburgh Council head Jenny Dawe on behalf of the Lord Provost.

The Exhibition includes various poster sets explaining aspects of the religion and culture of Muslims, as well as artistic exhibits and multimedia. The Islam Festival as a whole encourages creativity and dialogue.

Highlight events during the month include two talks on Islam in a contemporary context (“Who’d be a Muslim these days?”, 11 August; Islam, Peace and the Modern World, 19 Aug), as well as a melodic presentation of the recited Qur’an (The Glorious Recital, 18 August), and a selling exhibition of Arabic calligraphy by Haji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang from China (24-26 August).

Sohaib Saeed, IFe manager, commented: “More than ever, this fantastic resource for meeting local Muslims and learning about their way of life is a significant contribution to our diverse Scottish society.”


2 Responses to Press Release

  1. Umm Imaan says:

    Do you organise events like this anywhere else in Britain because i would like to have an exibition like this in liverpool because it is much needed insh’allah.

  2. kassim says:

    i want to present my work.could you watch this.KAM-AHSARI QURANIC ART

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