There’s no need to compromise your faith

Muslims who serve in the armed forces don’t see themselves as being any different to their non-Muslim comrades. They live together, train together and support one another in times of peace and conflict.

They freely practise their religion, have time off for Hajj, enjoy halal food and ration packs, men can have beards, women can wear the hijab and during the holy month of Ramadan they receive support while fasting.

To cement the armed forces’ commitment to its serving Muslim personnel, Asim Hafiz was appointed as the first ever imam and Muslim chaplain to the British armed forces. He provides spiritual guidance for serving Muslim personnel, supports troops on the frontline and helps gain the trust of the people they have been sent to help.

Islam and the armed forces: Are they compatible?

Imam Asim Hafiz is Islamic Religious Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff and Service Chiefs. In this article he answers a key question for many people – are Islam and the Armed Forces compatible?
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I join AFMA? More

AFMA is open to all Muslim serving personnel across all disciplines of the armed forces. If you’d like to hear more about the kind of events and get-togethers that we organise, contact us and one of the team will be in touch. Simply fill in the form and email it to us.

Isn’t being a Muslim in the armed forces a contradiction? More

Not at all. There are currently 650 Muslims serving in the British armed forces. And being part of the armed forces does not mean that you will be constantly at war. Much of the work that soldiers undertake revolves around a selfless commitment to help and protect others. Islam commends the protection of others, justice, security and giving people the opportunity to be free. These are all shared values with the armed forces, which proves how compatible the two are

Can I wear a hijab? More

Yes. The armed forces recognise that individuals with specific religions or beliefs generally welcome the opportunity to wear clothing with significance to their religion or belief. In addition to being able to wear a hijab, women can cover their arms and wear trousers in all aspects of their work.

Can I keep my beard? More

Yes. Provided you keep your beard neat and tidy, the armed forces have no issues with men keeping their beards.

Can I pray? More

Yes. The armed forces treat religious belief as a private matter, but aim to accommodate and respect religious or belief requirements subject to vital considerations of operational effectiveness and health and safety. Where circumstances allow, the MoD policy is to provide a quiet room (for prayer) in its buildings and service establishments, including ships and submarines.

Can I fast during Ramadan? More

Yes. The MoD even allows for an early breakfast and a late dinner during the holy month of Ramadan. However, there may be some operational circumstances where the physical demands on an individual are high, so fasting would be hazardous and inappropriate. In such cases, on the advice of our imam, fasting personnel are allowed to make up these fasting days before the following Ramadan.

Do I get time off for religious holidays? More

Yes. Providing you have enough holiday allowance, your commanding officer or line manager will make every effort to allow you time off to celebrate a religious festival or holiday.

Is halal food available? More

Yes. The armed forces makes every effort to cater for all special religious dietary requirements, and halal is no exception, with meals being provided in service mess facilities. Halal ration packs are also usually available for operations and exercises.

Are there organisations for other religions? More

Yes. The armed forces supports everyone in their religious beliefs, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and members of other religions, as well as humanists and atheists. Organisations currently exist, similar to AFMA, for Sikhs, Christians and Hindus. Provision is made by the MoD so that they can observe the specific practices of their faith.

My parents won’t let me join the armed forces. What should I say to them? More

You could address any concerns they have about you joining the armed forces by showing them the sections on this site which highlight how some of the 650 serving Muslim personnel have reconciled their faith to the role they play in the army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines, or RAF. Chat with them about how the MoD accommodates Muslim’s beliefs and faith, and tell them there is even a dedicated imam affiliated with the armed forces, offering advice and pastoral support.

We are happy to talk about specific concerns with you. Please get in touch.

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Islam and the Armed Forces: Are they compatible?

Imam Asim Hafiz is Islamic Religious Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff and Service…
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Do you have a question for us? Send us a message

Having found out more about AFMA you may have a few questions you’d like to ask us. Send us a message and we’ll get back to you