Project logo

Home    Introduction   Buildings   Bryophytes   Community   References   Credits

Central Mosque and Islamic Centre

The Central mosque and Islamic Centre

The Central Mosque and Islamic Centre, situated in Potter Row, provides the observer with a taste of the rich and beautiful architecture of Islam.

The architect, Basil Al-Bayati, has created a building that incorporates both Scots and Islamic features.

The octagonal holyrood style towers at the corners of the mosque echo those of the students union building situated on the other side of Bristo Square. Red sandstone has been used to create the complex calligraphic shapes on the towers.
The Beginnings

Before the Central Mosque was built, Muslims in Edinburgh met in a prayer room in a small rented flat but, as numbers increased, it became necessary to find larger accommodation.

Eventually, they were able to purchase land from the City Council with the proviso that an existing listed building was preserved and used.

A temporary wooden building was purchased and used for prayer while the existing building was renovated. After moving into the restored building, plans were drawn up for the new mosque and Islamic centre

The Struggle

Serious financial difficulties and obstacles accompanied elements of the project and at one point it almost came to a stop.

 However King Fahad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia heard of these difficulties and provided a gift amounting to more than 90% of the total project cost.

There was more good fortune as His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became the project patron

The Completion

Eventually, and with great joy for the Muslims of Edinburgh, the mosque was inaugurated by the Prince on Friday 8/4/1419 AH (31/7/1998 AD )

The Chairman of the Trustees for the mosque, Dr Abdullah bin Abdulmohsin Al-Turki, also deserves great credit for his concern and leadership as do all those who contributed their time and effort to the project.


The Mosque

A mosque is a house of prayer in Islam and is symbolically very important to Muslims.

The very first mosque was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and defined as the area surrounding the Ka'ba, the most holy structure in Islam.

Early mosques were modelled on the courtyard of Muhammad's house in Madina, Saudi Arabia, which was built in 622 AD.

With the passage of time, mosques became more complex and the first minaret, a tower from which calls to prayer were made, probably came in 703 AD, in Kairouan, Tunisia.
The Development of the Mosque

The design of mosques changed from being very simple to the complex structures we see today in the comparatively short period of about 80 years.

The shapes of mosques were often based on a mixture of the architectural shapes of conquered territories and the original simple patterns.

The minaret, which was absent from early mosques, was probably inspired by the influence of religious buildings in Syria. A minaret is both functional and an embellishment to a mosque. When the muezzin called for prayer from ground level, it could only be heard over a short distance but, from the minaret, his voice carried over a wide area.

Seen at different times of the day, this building exhibits a wide range of moods and colours.

In the morning, with the minaret silhouetted against the first rays of the sun, the mosque again delights and surprises the passing viewer.

Millenium logo

This project was funded by the RIAS Millennium Awards Scheme