After investigating personal letters, historic archives, diaries and census reports, scholar Islam Issa has determined that some 885,000 Muslim soldiers supported Allied forces during World War I – that’s double the previously estimate of 400,000 soldiers.
“The 400,000 number we so often hear refers to Muslims in the Indian Army, and there were at least 430,000 of these. But many people forget that there was a significant Arab contribution,” reports Mr. Issa. “For instance, Egypt alone contributed at least 150,000 camel drivers for British campaigns, and the other north African countries helped the French with at least 280,000 men.”
According to the scholar, at least 20% of all British Empire soldiers were Muslim, and about 89,000 were killed fighting for Allied forces under French or British command. This included front-line soldiers, trench builders and those responsible for transporting vital goods and materials.
Mr. Issa is planning to create the first ever exhibition dedicated to the Islamic contribution during World War I.