Imam Asim Hafiz is Islamic Religious Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff and Service Chiefs. In this blog, he reflects on AFMA’s visit to Iraq for Remembrance Day.
In November last year, I was in Baghdad to deliver a message from the UK Armed Forces that we all share a common fight against terrorism and extremism.
I was marking Remembrance Day, a time to pause and reflect on those who gave their lives to defend the UK and its values. We stand together to remember those from all faiths and no faith who fight side-by-side, together. And as we remember the past, we also look to the world around us today.
We all want a world in which we can coexist harmoniously and peacefully without fear, harassment and violence. We must work together to ensure those who wish to divide us are not able to promote their destructive ideology. Our shared values of peace, compassion, acceptance and respect are key in this endeavour. Being in Baghdad is of poignant and noteworthy significance in this regard.
We hope that Iraq’s multi-faith society can follow suit and always stand together in the face of injustices and oppression for the good of the peace and security that is being fought for.
Working for the Armed Forces allows me to support the defence of my country but also uphold the tenets of my faith. As the Islamic Religious Adviser to the Ministry of Defence and former Muslim Chaplain to the UK Armed Forces, I help military leaders understand the needs of serving Muslim personnel and also engage with the Muslim community in the UK and around the world.
With AFMA, here today, our significance is to remember that more than 400,000 Muslims soldiers fought for Britain in The Great War. Even today Muslims and non-Muslim Britons stand together in active service to defend our country. Like they have in the past.
Throughout history, our prophets and leaders of all faiths made extreme sacrifices – and it is those sacrifices that should be remembered and are a catalyst to unite all faiths, rather than divide.
We all reject those who would tear our respective nations apart, selling a false and twisted identity to vulnerable young people. As we laid our wreaths on Remembrance Day, we honoured comrades who have fallen and pledged to stand for all that is decent and honourable in our common humanity.
Imam Asim Hafiz
Armed Forces Muslim Association
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.