Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Muslim Tommies

Muslim Tommies
is a BBC program that was aired on the 2nd of September. Now, like me you're probably thinking 'what are tommies?' So before I go on I'll explain the term 'tommy'.

Tommy is a common term for a soldier in the British Army, usually associated with World War I.

What I learned from watching the program..

* The Indian army was mobilised Sep 1914 in Europe
* Soldiers were known as 'sepoys'
* The hardships of these men have been lost in history
* Accounts written by the men were translated and are now available
* The soldiers usually came from poor rural communities
* On 30th Oct 1914, Sepoy Khudadad Khan was awarded the Victoria Cross (it was the first ever to be awarded to an Indian soldier)
* The first purpose built mosque in England is in Woking (Shah Jahan mosque)
* A graveyard was built near the mosque for the burial of Muslim soldiers
* In 1968 the remains of the soldiers were removed to Brookwood cemetry nearby where nineteen first world war and five 2nd world war soldiers now rest
* In May 1915, soldiers moved from France to present day Iraq to fight Germany's Turkish allies
* They had to fight Muslim Turks
* They refused, and so 429 soldiers received long prison sentences
* 8,500 troops had died by the end, 1/3 wud have been Muslims
* A unique ceremony is held at Brighton to commemorate their bravery and remember the Indian troops who died
* It's called the Chattri memorial

Soldiers mentioned were:

Amir Khan - 129th Baluchis, France 1915
Subedar Muhammed Agia - 57th Rifles, May 1915
Havildar Abdul Rahman - 59th Rifles, France 1915
Juma Khan - 40th Pathans, France 1915
Sepoy Abdul Ghani - 125th Napier's Rifles, France 1915
Naubet Khan - 107th Pioneers, France 1915
Mohamed Ali Bey - 20th Deccan Horses, France 1915
Abdul Jabar Khan, Sep 1917
Mahomed Mazafar Khan - 19th Lancers, France, Oct 1917
Jemadar Shamsher Ali Khan - 34th Poona Horse, France, April 1917
Dafadar Fazi Khan - 19th Lancers, France Oct 1916
Havildar Ghufran Khan - 129th Baluchis, aug 1915
Abdul Ali Khan - 6th Cavalry, France Aug 1917
Rajwali Khan - Brighton, Sep 1915 (at hospital)
Raja Khan - 38th CIH, France oct 1917
Jemadar Hasan Shah - Hodson's Horse, France 1916
Kesu Shah - Rouen, May 1916
Rahimdad Khan - 19th Lancers, France, May 1916
Fateh Ullah - June 1916

All in all, this program really opened my eyes to the life of the Indian soldiers that fought the war for Britain. It's something that I was not taught in school which makes me think about other children who are studying about war at school and yet being unaware of the role played by these men who share their ancestry. Is it fair that their part in the war should be left out? Why shouldn't we acknowledge the loss of these men?

Get in touch. Did one of your ancestors serve in the World War I or World War II? Do you have written accounts of the war from one of your great grandparents or grandparents?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Muhammad Ayaz Malik and Wendy Leigh

The Geneabloggers website has some interesting daily themes for bloggers to write about in their own blogs. If you don't know what Tombstone Tuesday is, then click here for an explanation. Although I have no tombstone pictures of my own, here's my contribution:

I came across this picture of a Muslim tombstone on Flickr. It was taken by Hammad Mian at Indianapolis in Indiana
so thanks to him for letting me share it with you.

'[Arabic script] To God we belong and unto Him is our return. (Qur'an 2.156)

Muhammad Ayaz 1957 Wendy Leigh 1962'

I wonder who they were. The man has a Muslim name and there is a verse from the Quran on the headstone. How would you go about learning more about these people?

What do you think? Leave me a comment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Remembering our shaheed..3

I'm posting more announcements of our shaheed (martyred) who are fighting for our country, our people and our freedom. See my inital posts here and here

Thursday August 20th 2009

Suleman, a soldier from the Bajaur Levies was shot dead in the Shago area of Bajaur. The unidentified men who shot him also killed his father, Lali Jan and brother, Ibrahim who worked as a water carrier in Bajaur Scouts. (The News)

Sunday August 23rd 2009

Three soldiers
were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the Kanju area in Swat on Saturday. (The News)

Monday September 7th 2009

'Two soldiers have been killed by a roadside bomb in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.' (BBC News)

Friday September 11th 20

Two FC soldiers
were k
illed in a rocket attack on the Jandola fort in Frontier Region (FR) Tank on Thursday. (The News)

Tuesday September 15th 2009

Subedar Siddiq
of the Mehsud Scouts (Frontier Corps) was killed on Monday in Karawal area of Malak Dinkhel, Khyber Agency. (The News)

Note: I can only provide you with names if I find them in the news articles I browse. If you think something needs correcting, please do leave me a message. I try my best.

We should all pray for these men and their families and recognise their courage and sacrifice for their country.

Are you related to a soldier? Do you have memories of a loved one dying? Do you have a message for the soldiers fighting? Leave me a comment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is a repository?

Genealogists or family historians usually use a repository to look up information regarding their ancestors and it's common practice to note down the source for the information that you find. So what exactly is a repository?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as:

a place, room, or container where something is deposited or stored. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

A genealogical repository is where historical records are kept and preserved that are useful for information such as births, marriages, deaths, wills etc. There may be archives and libraries for example that provide original documents like these. It's easy to think that everything you'll need to find out about your ancestors will be online but that's not the case. I've seen many posts on genealogical forums asking for a person's whole family tree when all they've provided is their name. It's as if they're expecting someone else to have done all the hard work for them and will be willing to share it all with them. Even if that were true, how would you prove that the information you find (or is shared with you) is true unless you knew that information was from a credible source. I guess that's where repositories come in to the picture.

A few weeks ago, I came across this article on Sarhad Conservation Network about the imposed demolition of an 150 year old
Muhafiz Khana (records office) in Peshawar, Pakistan. The article states that the 'Muhafiz Khana has served as a repository of priceless (British-era and post independence) historic records of lands and court verdicts in criminal, civil and revenue cases among others'. Apparently record keeping was suspended in June 2003 as the building needed maintenance with the building in poor condition and the government planned to demolish it. Further digging found that because of a petition in 2006 by the Sarhad Conservation Network and the Hindokush Conservation Association UK, the building had been saved from its destruction. (The Dawn). This is great work by these organizations.

I'm unsure about the building's status as of now but it seems such a shame that the government intended to demolish it. Because of it's poor condition some of the records that were kept there were damaged. Some questions that arise from hearing about this historically important building are:

1) What records, specifically, are kept at Muhafiz Khana?
2) What is being done to preserve the records?
3) How are the records organized?
4) Are the records available to the public?

..which brings me to my next question:

What needs to be done?

1) The building should be maintained properly so that the building itself is not dilapidated as well as the records
2) The damaged records should be repaired or restored if possible
3) The records should be microfilmed for preservation
4) The records should be indexed.

Yes, this means investing money and that is the problem I guess. But we also need to make people aware that our heritage and history is slipping away. If we don't do something - it will be gone forever.

If you live in Peshawar or if you're passing by, take a look at the records office at:

Muhafiz Khana
Khyber Road

What are your opinions? Do you live in Peshawar? What do you know about the building?