The Armed Forces held a special Iftar on 29 June at the Ministry of Defence, which saw a diverse audience come together to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme and the sacrifice of LCpl Jabron Hashmi, the first British Muslim to die in Afghanistan.
The event was not only in tribute to the 400,000 Muslim soldiers who bravely fought for Britain during the First World War, but it was to celebrate the huge role that Muslim troops have continued to play in the Armed Forces for the past 100 years.
The Battle of the Somme has come to be known as the bloodiest battle of the Great War. It serves to signify the magnanimity of the entire conflict. Similarly, remembering the Muslims who were involved in it symbolises the entire 400,000 Muslims who gallantly fought for Britain from Mesopotamia to the Western Front.
Guests paid special tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, a British Muslim soldier who was killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago on 1 July.
With Jabron Hashmi’s family in attendance as the guests of honour, Minister of Defence, Earl Howe presented them with a poppy tile on behalf of the Armed Forces as an award for his bravery. Mr Howe said, “Jabron and his family paid the ultimate sacrifice and we honour them all tonight. Jabron’s name and his legacy will live on, as we look to build a better future for our Armed Forces and our country.”
JABRON HASHMI: PROUD TO BE BRITISH, MUSLIM AND A SOLDIER
Mrs Zoubla Hashmi, spoke about her brother’s pride in being a British soldier and a deeply spiritual Muslim who sought to build on the strength of this country through his convictions. Mrs Hashmi said, “He never wavered in his conviction that our strength as a country comes from our diversity not from our differences.”
Lance Corporal Hashmi’s sacrifice marks a legacy for British Muslim personnel and their part in building a more diverse British Armed Forces.
With more awareness raised recently on the shared history of courage and commitment of multi-ethnic and multi-faith British forces, this event was part of the Unknown and Untold project by British Future, which seeks to explore the relevance of this shared history to modern day questions of integration and diversity.
The project also helps to reveal the extent of Muslim contribution to Britain’s modern identity and rich culture.
Islamic advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff, Imam Asim Hafiz echoed the sentiments of many when he spoke on the shared values of courage, respect and loyalty enshrined within the Islamic faith and the UK Armed Forces.
Continuing to honour services made by Muslims like those who sacrificed their lives in the Somme, and more recently in Afghanistan, will no doubt leave a lasting legacy and will honour all Muslims in the Armed Forces.
The Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA), was set up in recognition of the contribution Muslim personnel make across all three services, both in the Regular and Reserve forces.
From the earliest days of basic training, through to deployment and military operations, AFMA is on the ground helping support British Muslims in the Armed Forces, helping these dedicated Muslim men and women perform their military duties in full without compromising their faith.
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