Book: Miniature Books
Chapter: Miniature Qurans in the First World War: Religious Comforts for Indian Muslim Soldiers
During the First World War Muslim soldiers from India made up a significant part of the British forces. Attempts to satisfy the soldiers' religious needs became a British strategy to maintain military discipline among the soldiers in Europe and to avoid public unease and discontent in colonial India. Based on archival material, this chapter examines how the British tried to identify the religious needs of the Indian soldiers and how letters written by Muslim soldiers emphasized the importance of the Qur'an. The chapter further explores how the Indian Soldiers' Fund became an important charity which procured and distributed miniature copies of the Qur'an and how prominent persons in India and Europe donated scriptures to Muslim soldiers. Although the soldiers' uses of the miniature scriptures remain uncertain, the books were given iconic functions to represent religion and identities in a time when the British national honor was threatened.