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During the past month the public have been able to get into sites and buildings every weekend for free. From Corstorphine Police Station to Lothian Buses PLC, these are just two examples of the types of sites opened up for public viewing in Edinburgh. Plenty of churches, schools and University of Edinburgh buildings also granted public access.

Steinunn and I visited the Anatomy Lecture Theatre and Anatomy Resource Centre in the University’s medical building but unfortunately most of the exhibition was closed due to unforeseen circumstances. We did see 2 African elephants’ skeletons and five or so female pelvises. Each pelvis had been taken from women who had died during or shortly after giving birth.

Before this, we took of our shoes and entered Edinburgh’s Central Mosque. A man with a beard gave a very informative talk about the ritual movements during prayers. About 60 or so visitors all stood or sat at the back of the mosque whilst the imam begun prayers and all the Muslim men stood shoulder to shoulder and began their third prayer session of the day. Afterwards, the man with the beard talked some more by explaining four key words that underpin the foundations of Islam. The words were Allah, Islam, Muhammad (pboh) and the Qur’an. Once the talk had finished he invited questions from his audience, to which he gave precise, logical and understandable answers. A few questions were about the differences between men and women, beards, how the mosque is run, how imams are chosen, the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, prayers and disabled people, … All in all it was education for me and I think Steinunn (her Muslim side) learnt something too. I asked a question downstairs in the exhibition about the funeral process. Generally, when a person dies, a relative of the same sex will clean their body and wrap it in white cloth. The body will be buried in the ground, and if possible, the head will be turned to face in the direction of Mecca, which is south east from Edinburgh.



  1. My Muslim side did learn something – about funerals. I must say, thankfully, that all else was old news to me as of course I would have been rather sad and shocked to find some new truth as through years of personal and academic study no fundamental issue or teaching should be unknown to me. (I emphasise “fundamental”, I ain’t stupid – I know there is more to Islam than I could comprehend, though I try:) ) I have however never felt inspired to ask about funerals in as much detail as Nick did yesterday. Not sure what posessed him, but when the opportunity arose he went straight for this unusual topic and managed to rope in the bearded lecturer plus 3 other volunteers, who, by they by, also learned something that day.

    • Iggy-Wana
    • Posted Friday, 6 October 2006 at 11:46 am
    • Permalink

    For a second there, I thought the Imam thought a beard was the only thing seperating men from women. Living in Hartlepool, I have come to look beyond such narrow-minded, radical, nationalistic, firebrand, extremist interpreations of geneder differences, learning that one sould never assume a person’s gender on such limited criteria. Women, wear your beards with pride!

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