Education

The role of Muslims in WW I

At least 2.5 million Muslim soldiers and labourers from all over the world fought with the allied forces with dignity and honour.

During WW1, the British Indian Army numbered over 1.3 million, and at least 400,000 were Muslims.

The British Indian Army was composed of volunteers who served in France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Salonica, East Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.

From the British Indian Army, over 53,000 were killed, 65,000 injured and 3,800 were missing or taken prisoner.

A significant number of Muslims served in the British merchant navy, over 50,000 by the beginning of WW1. They came from India, Yemen, British Somaliland and other countries.

More than 15,000 merchant seamen lost their lives, which included Muslims. It is estimated that 3,427 Indian seamen were killed and 1,200 taken prisoner.

Britain ordered the invasion of German colonies in West Africa . The West African Frontier Force, drawn from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Gambia played a key role in the campaign.

British colonial forces fought a 4 year guerrilla campaign in East Africa.

Although the exact numbers aren’t known, the King’s African Rifles was said to contain a large percentage of Muslims. During this period, British forces lost 10,000 men.

Although the NMWMT commemorates the contribution of Muslims to Britain’s Armed Forces, we would also like to recognise the service of 800,000 Muslims from North, West and East Africa who fought in the French Armed Forces. There were 1.3 million Muslims in the Russian Army and 5,000 Muslims in the American Forces who also fought the Germans.

The Beliefs of Muslim Soldiers

Muslim soldiers shared their food with locals who were suffering from the famine in Europe.

One of the tenets of Islam is that Muslims should treat enemy soldiers with respect and look after them.

Reports and letters mention that Muslim soldiers shared their food with the local people who were suffering from famine in Europe. This, despite the fact that they knew it would weaken their own strength, needed for the fierce fights to come.

Arab soldiers guarding airfield

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Muslims were a significant part of the British Armed Forces during both World Wars and played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s history, but their heroic contribution has been undervalued.

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Lord Sheikh

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