It has been more than 3 years in Zurich since we relocated from Istanbul. I wanted to share some things about living in Zurich, for a Muslim person.
I think it might be useful for people recently relocated to Switzerland, or in general to west Europe.
You can find a vegetarian menu in 99% of the restaurants. But if you order something which seems safe (in terms of being ‘halal’), make sure there is no alcohol or speck/bacon in it. Also a lot of soups have bullion in it which is produced from meat.
Waiters and waitresses are kind about this; just ask them. No one will judge you for your special food request.
Read the ingredients of the food you buy. There are a lot of emulsifiers which have alcohol in it. Also be careful about the things that are produced from meat or bones of animals; such as gelatine. Especially yoghurts might have gelatine.
For emulsifiers, check this list : http://www.muslimconsumergroup.com/e-numbers_list.html, copy it to your phone and use it when you buy some food.
There are a lot of Muslim markets in Zurich. There you can find halal meat and other halal food.
Here are my favorite supermarkets which are owned by Turkish people, quite big and have a halal-restaurant in it :
- Aksa SuperMarkt
- Neu Affoltern http://www.aksasupermarkt.ch/
- Sila market
- Oerlikon Google Maps
- Ege market
- Zurich city Yelp
Swiss people, or let me say people living in Switzerland are understanding when it comes to religion. There is nothing to be afraid to tell you are a Muslim. They will respect that and they will also respect your prayer times, Ramadan days and your special food requirements.
In most of the social activities with Swiss people, such as business dinners, people drink alcohol. I haven’t met even one person in Switzerland who doesn’t respect me not drinking alcohol. Sometimes they are curious about it, but that is it.
Muslim community is organized quite well and there are a lot of mosques in Zurich. Here are just two:
- Merkez Moschee
- Turkish mosque. Kochstrasse 22, 8004 Zurich
- Islamisches Zentrum
- Lebanese mosque. Eisgasse 6, Zurich
Minarets are banned in Switzerland, so don’t expect to see them.
People are OK with you fasting in Ramadan. I even start working late during Ramadan. Of course this depends on your job and your relation with your employer.
There are often activities posted on the doors of mosques. You can join them. Most of the mosques give Islamic education to children during summer time and semester breaks.
What I find quite important is, finding a funeral funding cooperative. You never know when you die and if that happens, your family needs to pay 10000s of CHF for transporting the body.
This is not the most pleasant topic, but I need to write a couple words about it. If possible, take a bottle of water to toilet with you. That is the only solution I can think of here.
I don’t want to comment on things like language, work permit, politics etc. Only Islamic subjects.