Mahrup Shah was wounded and sent to the Royal Pavilion Hospital at Brighton, where he died on 16 September 1915. His body was interred at the Muslim Burial Ground and later moved to Brookwood Military Cemetery. The plaque would have been sent to his family in India (now Pakistan).
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The collection of material, of which Mahrup Shah’s plaque was part, was purchased at an auction in Southampton, by Mr Kevin Smith of Woking. Mr Smith used to play at the Muslim Burial Ground as a child in the 1970s and is now a keen military enthusiast.
No further provenance of the items is known but among the items was the printed letter of condolence from King George V, a Qur’an published in 1917 by the Shah Jahan Mosque (the site of the Islamic Review offices), and a postcard of the Muslim Burial Ground, c.1920. The Qur’an is inscribed ‘B.W Addison’ of Freckleton, Lancashire. Research has shown that there was a 2nd Lieutenant BW Addison of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who fought at the Battle of Cambrai, but it is not known if this is the same person.
This version of the Qur’an was translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali, leader of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement until his death in 1951 and author of several books on Islam. The volume contained his commentary and was first published in 1917, from the Woking Muslim Mission’s offices at the Shah Jahan Mosque, and printed by Unwin Brothers of Old Woking. During 1916, pages from this Qur’an were printed in the Islamic Review issues before the full book was available.
This was the first English translation of the Qur’an by a Muslim to become generally available to the public anywhere in the world and the first by a Muslim to be published and distributed in the West. There had been little known ones before in India, and some translations by non-Muslims were already available in Britain (George Sale 1734, Rev. J M Rodwell 1861, Edward Palmer 1880) but these versions contained notes by the authors with the purpose of discrediting Islam.
Note: The 129th Baluchis had the distinction of one soldier winning the first native VC, when Khudadad Khan gallantly defended his position at Hollebeke, 1914. Most of the Baluch Regimental units went to Pakistan in 1947, and today the battalion is known as the 11th Btn, Baloch Regiment, Pakistan Army. Information courtesy of Dr Iftikhar H Malik.
Note: It has also been pointed out that the name Mahrup Shah may have been recorded wrongly. It is known that British military and hospital clerks transcribing Indian names incorrectly and anglicised spellings. Ilyas Khan has informed us that there is no such name as ‘Mahrup’, and it is likely to be a mis-spelling of the common name ‘Maruf ‘ or ‘Mahruf’ Shah, “Probably a Syed of the NWFP area of British India”.
The Stories of Sacrifice project exhibition at the British Muslim Heritage Centre features displays dedicated to the bravery and sacrifice of Muslim soldiers during World War One, including Mahrup Shah http://www.storiesofsacrifice.org.uk/exhibition/burials/
Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf ()copy.
Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.
A history of the 129th Baluchis and Mahrup Shah’s story is featured on The Subedar Khan Foundation website which commemorates the contribution of Punjabi Muslim soldiers and the British Pakistani community http://www.subedarkhan.org.uk/
Read more about the Muslim Burial ground, the servicemen originally buried there and it’s transformation into a Peace Garden on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.
- Further sources for researching the Indian Army during the First World War and the Muslim Burial Ground