A new project announced today seeks to raise public awareness during the First World War Centenary of the 400,000 Muslims from undivided India who served in the British Army in The First World War.
Few people are aware that the multi-ethnic army of 1914 looked much more like the Britain of 2014 than that of 1914, nor that Muslims fought alongside Christians, Sikhs, Jews and Hindus on the battlefield. Research conducted by British Future discovered that only 1 in 5 people know about this Muslim contribution, and almost nobody (2%) is aware of its scale. This public knowledge gap belies the significant contribution of soldiers from different faiths and nations to Britain’s role in the First World War, and the shared history of different communities in the country.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the major national project – “An Unknown and Untold Story – The Muslim Contribution to The First World War” – is a partnership between British Future and New Horizons in British Islam, and aims to address the public appetite for information and learning about the contribution of soldiers from the Commonwealth during WW1.
Over 14 months from May 2015, it will bring together Muslim and non-Muslim communities to explore this shared history and its relevance to modern-day Britain.
Dilwar Hussain, Chair of New Horizons in British Islam, says: “The story of Muslim contribution to the British Army of the First World War is little-known among the public. Many British Muslims themselves don’t realise the relevance of the WW1 centenary to their own history.”