On Wednesday 18th November 2018, The Edinburgh Women’s Interfaith Group Celebrated the Scottish interfaith week at the Quaker Meeting House, in Edinburg, on the theme of “Connecting With Generation”
Time: 7-9pm Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh

20 women of different faiths and ages met to hear from Anjam Sheikh and her granddaughter about their Shia Islam faith.  Anjam came from Kenya with her family to England in 1964 as a young child.  Her religious and cultural upbringing centred mainly around what her grandmother taught her which was formed in stories about the good and best behaviours for her and the world.  The stories were based on the Quran and we heard about the needs for the rituals in the month of Mourning of Muharram which starts the year (and currently is just finishing this year).  The timing is based on the lunar calendar.

In 1979 Anjam and her family came to Scotland and slowly found the funds to set up a Mosque in Leith, eventually a second one in Edinburgh and now a third very vibrant one in Dalkeith that is mainly run and organized by young people (we heard of accountants etc in the 20s who work for the Mosque which was in great contrast to one members Church of Scotland centres!).

Anjam talked about how when she came to England and Scotland there were no other sources of teaching or training which is very different now.  We heard how priests are direct descendants of the Prophets, other teachers are called Brothers, women come to train on rituals needed for burial, and how you can email or phone the representative if you have questions about rulings.  Shia Mosques do not have minarets but the Alum Hand of God.  We heard that praying is called Du’a and has strong effects and that Shia Muslims know about Jesus who is considered a venerable person, not a prophet.  There is a Muslim funeral home now in the area and all burials must be made with the person facing east (I found out after that that is the same for Christians).

There was a lovely discussion about learning from grandparents, and how her family remain strong in the faith.  Her granddaughter confirmed she has been taught by her grandmother and the faith remains strong in the family and accepted by her granddaughter’s schoolmates.  The evening had to be drawn to a close by Nila who had prepared lovely gifts for our speakers who were warmly thanked for taking to the time to share.
After that, the group enjoyed delicious vegetarian finger buffet with traditional home-made Indian sweets, tea and coffee to celebrate the time of Festival.
The event provided an opportunity for local women to get together and promote an understanding and co-operation between diverse religious communities and understanding on people’s personal journey of faith.

Over 20 women from various groups, and individuals took part at this event which was really enjoyable and a great success. EWIG are very grateful to Interfaith Scotland & Quaker Meeting House for their support for this event.

Nila from Edinburgh Women’s Interfaith Group