Fayaz Alibhai on the Shi‛a of Edinburgh

Slightly late, but here is the summary of Fayaz’s paper from 11th November – thank you to Fayaz for sharing his research with us.

Fayaz’s paper addressed a small Muslim Shi‘a group in Edinburgh, which that does not have its own mosque, and their growing confidence as expressed in their annual Muharram observances and specifically the climax of the observances, the Ashura parade, when Shi‘a Muslims worldwide remember the martyrdom of Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali at Karbala and commemorated in a parade which involves the beating of the chest as an act of lamentation.

The Edinburgh Shi‘a are made up of migrants from Iran and the sub-continent and as such are themselves split amongst Urdu and Farsi speaking adherents. Despite having been in Edinburgh for some time it was only in 2011 that they first felt sufficiently confident enough to conduct an Ashura parade which congregates at Great Junction Street in Leith. Since that time the parade has changed most notably with the introduction of signs. Signs in 2012 were carried in the procession while by 2013 they were in English and faced out from the procession with messages such as ‘Fight Terrorism through Justice’.

The confidence to parade hints at both a willingness to engage with the wider community and a perceived need to do so.


The final seminar of this semester’s series shall be on Tuesday 25th November at 1pm – Alison Garden will be speaking on Colum McCann and the literature of diaspora.


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