‘Poppy Headscarf’ launches to mark centenary of first Victoria Cross for Muslim soldier

Posted on 31 October 2014 - 18 Comments

A new ‘Poppy Headscarf’ launches today, backed by the Islamic Society of Britain, to raise money for the Poppy Appeal and offer British Muslims a new way to mark Remembrance.

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

The launch coincides with the centenary of the act of heroism that made Sepoy Khudadad  Khan, of the 129th Baluchis regiment, the first Indian soldier – and first Muslim – to be awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

The poppy headscarf was designed by young Muslim fashion designer Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, 24, a student at the London College of Fashion, UAL.

It is hoped that the garment will serve as a symbol of Britain’s diverse and shared

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

history and the coming together of people from all backgrounds to remember in this centenary year.

Sughra Ahmed, President of the Islamic Society of Britain, said the headscarf is a “symbol of quiet remembrance” and  “the face of everyday British Islam”.

Tabinda added: “It’s a simple way to say that you’re proudly British and proudly Muslim.”

Leading figures from Britain’s military establishment – including former Chief of Defence Staff General David Richards and former Chief of the General Staff General Richard Dannatt – also came together today with civic Muslim groups today to honour the centenary of the actions of Khudadad Khan. There is also support from MPs, peers and MEPs across the party political spectrum.

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph, they highlight the story of Khudadad Khan, whose service “exemplified the courage of many who served in the First World War”. Badly wounded, Khan fought through the night in the cold mud of Ypres to hold the line long enough for British and Indian reinforcements to arrive. The sole survivor of his unit, he was transferred to England to recover from his injuries before being decorated by King George V.

The army that fought a century ago looked more like the Britain of 2014 than that of 1914. Khudadad Khan was just one of 1.2 million Indian soldiers who fought alongside British troops in the First World War, 400,000 of them Muslims.

Today, many British Muslims are unaware of this shared history and most Britons are surprised at the scale of the Muslim contribution to the Commonwealth effort.

Yet most people agree that learning more of this of this shared history can promote integration and help our children understand the multi-ethnic Britain that we are today.

The full letter to the Telegraph, with a complete list of signatories, can be read here.

Recent research from British Future has shown a change in public knowledge of the contribution made by Indian soldiers to the First World War effort, rising by 24% from 2012 to 2014. Awareness of the Muslim contribution is much lower – but the initiative launched today will help to bring the story of Khudadad Khan, and those who served alongside him, to a much wider audience.



  • Comment by julie giles at 15:54 on 31.10.14

    hi, how can i order a scarf, thanks

  • Comment by Tony McQuaid at 19:22 on 31.10.14

    With so many unfounded and negative perceptions relating to the way people dress (due to their faith and/or personal preferences) I think this is a wonderful and inspiring way to show support to a very special cause whilst remaining true to your own personal values.

    It is possibly worth noting that I am not religious myself, but fully support the Royal Britsh Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

  • Comment by Barbara A Brown at 09:52 on 01.11.14

    What a wonderful way to honor your religion and those who died and fought for all living in a democracy today. As an American christian, military spouse who happened to live in Britian for eight years with my US Air Force husband in the 60s and again in the 80s I commend your faith, patriotism, honor of heritage, since of culture and humanity. May christians, Muslums, peoples of all free nations find semilar ways of beauty to express our shared humanity while not forgetting the horros of war
    and always seeking a world of peace! May God bless us all! I will write more
    when I order several scarfs. Thank you for your example!

  • Comment by Linda Swinbank at 21:13 on 01.11.14

    I’m not Muslim, in fact not religious at all. I think the poppy hijab (or headscarf) is a brilliant way for all women to commemorate those who have fallen while serving this country.

    My only complaint – make it easier to buy!

    • Comment by jean clayton at 20:25 on 08.11.14

      100% agree!

    • Comment by Katherine Browning at 01:42 on 13.11.14

      I am a non-Muslim but would love to purchase one of the poppy headscarves for myself. As a Canadian I feel this great tribute to Muslim soldiers will catch on here also.

  • Comment by zaheda at 12:31 on 06.11.14

    What an amazing idea. I am a British Muslim and would like to wear this with great pride. I would like to order one. However, like previously commented by others, how do you order one please? Many thanks

  • Comment by Aine TINDALL at 15:05 on 16.11.14


    Please can yoou advise how I can purchase Poppy Scarves.

    Many thanks


  • Comment by Julie Laugharne at 19:58 on 05.04.15

    Unfortunately I was too late last year to order your Poppy headscarf’s and was told you may be ordering some more, can you tell me if you have made arrangements to order some more stock for this year

  • Comment by clair pickles at 06:47 on 23.10.16

    I would like to purchase a poppy hijab. Please could you let me know how to purchase the same.
    kind regards