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Edinburgh Inter Faith Association

A Registered Charity in Scotland SCO 17622

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Khushi restaurant and the first Mosque

 

The Khushi family were one of the first to arrive after the partition, and when they arrived in Edinburgh, they set up a restaurant in 1947 called Khushi’s, on the corner of Roxburgh Street. Back then, the wife was cooking in the basement and locals were eating. It was the only spicy food in Edinburgh- home recipes from Pakistan- because the women cooked. [It was at the Khushi restaurant that the first Muslim community started gathering and socialising, and raising money to open the Mosque. When they started out the building which would become Roxburgh Street Mosque was a bit of a state. Hilal told me how there was damp on the walls, and it was very cold. Even the basement was in bad shape, with no heating and no flooring. The students who went there weren’t very rich, it took them a long time to save up to transform the building into a Mosque.]

 

Khushi, he was an elderly man, but he could get people together- he was a leader. He could get people to donate money. They used to say, ‘we’ve got the Mosque there but we need a carpet’. So some of the students would go away, and find a carpet- so they were giving things rather than money… and that’s why they were happy to give so much. [Even children would give their pocket money. When Roxburgh Mosque first opened] they all were very happy, Arabs used to come, Pakistanis, Indians, there was no difference. They only thought we’re all Muslims, we just need a Mosque to pray”

 

In Pakistan, the women, they didn’t used to go to mosques, to pray- they used to pray in their homes. They were used to that when they came here, so it was just the men who went to the Mosque at first. [The women eventually decided that they should come together, for some occasions, such as for the Eid prayer, or Friday prayers.] They wanted to have a space as well, the women. So there was a lady whose name was Jamila. She lived in West Nicolson Street… and she said ‘look- come here, come and pray at my house’. So the women started to go there, and they had Friday prayers, any time they needed to have a gathering she would fit 20 or 30 women into her flat to pray. This time was a very different time [to now]. There was only one halal meat shop, on Argyle street. Only one! And people would come from all over. And if we tell our children [what it was like] in that time, they don’t believe us! They say how can it be like this?