Today is Remembrance Day, or ‘Armistice Day’. Across Britain, a two-minute silence will be held at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month to remember all those who died in WW1, and all those who have died in the wars since.
But did you know that Muslims played a huge part in both the First and Second World Wars?
It is a little-known fact that 400,000 Muslim soldiers fought and died alongside British troops in WW1, fearlessly strengthening the British position against the Germans in trenches on the Western Front.
These brave soldiers, despite arriving in a new climate with tropical uniforms and little knowledge of the mechanised warfare used in WW1, laid down their lives at crucial battles such as the Somme, Ypres, Neuve Chapelle and Gallipoli. And during the Second World War, a third of the 2.5 million men and women from the Indian army who fought for Britain were Muslim.
Countless stories of the strength and heroism of Muslim soldiers have emerged from both wars, such as that of Khudadad Khan, the first Muslim to receive the Victoria Cross for defending his position when all in his Company were killed. Or Sepoy Ali Haidar, who was also awarded the Victoria Cross for his ‘conspicuous gallantry, initiative and determination’ in the face of heavy odds.
It is stories such as these that remind us why we should wear our poppies with pride this Remembrance Day; not just to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of these individuals, but also to celebrate the huge contribution that Muslim soldiers made in shaping the Britain we know today.