Remembrance Sunday, which this year falls on the 13th November, is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to protect our freedom.
Almost one hundred years after the poppy was first introduced as a powerful symbol of remembrance and hope, millions of people proudly wear it each year. The use of a poppy was of course inspired by the Canadian doctor Lt Col John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, which itself was inspired by the sight of poppies growing around the graves of fallen soldiers.
It is incredibly moving that so many of our citizens volunteer in the months leading to Remembrance Sunday to sell poppies and support our armed forces. In a manner that reflects the diversity of our armed forces, many sections of Britain’s multicultural community are proud poppy sellers at this time of year.
One such group is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA). Hundreds of their volunteers have been selling poppies across Britain over the past few weeks, and it’s a tradition that has been observed for several years now. At a launch at a London mosque they were supported by the government, the Home Command Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Abraham, and members of the armed forces, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The work and enthusiasm of these young people is a fitting and modern reflection of the extraordinary contribution made to this country by their fathers and forefathers.
The fact that around 400,000 Muslim soldiers fought for Britain in WWI is seen by many as one of the war’s least-known stories. Seeing young British Muslims proudly recognising this fact is inspiring.
In another example of this patriotic enterprise amongst our youth, a special poppy-themed hijab is being offered for sale for the first time by the Royal British Legion. First seen in 2014, the poppy hijab was designed by 25-year-old British Muslim Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq. She created it to commemorate Khudadad Khan, the first Muslim soldier to be given the highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, exactly 100 years before.
One young woman seen wearing the poppy hijab at this year’s launch event explained how the garment helped her express her identity on Remembrance Day in a suitably solemn and respectful way.
“I thought it was a really simple and clean way of saying that I’m very proud of being British and Muslim without it being in anyone’s face.”
The British Legion uses the millions of pounds from poppy sales annually to provide care for present and past members (and their families) of the Armed Forces – whatever their background.
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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