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The Indian Subcontinent Red Crescent Society’s Aid to the Ottoman State during the Balkan war in 1912:

The war that was declared in 1912 against the Ottoman Empire by Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece brought many disasters with it. The cholera outbreak that started during the war proliferated rapidly among the Bulgarian Turks who were fleeing to Turkey, left the Ottoman Empire in a difficult position. In these difficult days the Red crescent came to their aid. The Indian Muslims sent the money they had collected to the red crescent.

Doctors from India (modern day Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India) volunteered in treating Ottoman wounded soldiers during the Balkan wars by serving in the Ottoman Red Crescent (Hilâl-i Ahmer), 1912. They arrived at Istanbul using their own personal expenses or via funds donated by fellow Muslims in India. This mission was led by Dr. Muhtar Ahmad Ansari. Abdur Rehman Peshawari (third row, second from left) was forced to sell all of his belongings to come to Istanbul. He continued to defend and serve in the Ottomans until his death.

The Indian Muslims felt so close and loved the Ottomans Turks so much that the students cut rations of their food and the women sold their gold and jewellery to help the Ottomans defend themselves. Just one of the donations that came from the Indian Muslims to the Ottoman Red crescent foundation was 185,000 Ottoman Lira.

In the year 1912, Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal recited his illustrious poem “Jawab I Shikwa” (The answer to the complaint) at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, to help raise funds to aid the Ottoman soldiers wounded in the Balkan war. More then 20,000 attended the fundraiser. Dr. Iqbal is seen here wearing the Ottoman Fez while reciting the poem in front of the attendees. Tag a friend from the Subcontinent!

The Indian Muslims who came to Istanbul along with the health staff gave excellent services. The help of the physician and statesmen Dr. Muhtar Ahmed Ensari Bey, who had fought for the independence of India, continued with his three teams at the front and behind the front lines. Together with Muhammad Ali and Zafer Khan, he created a project funded by the Indian Muslims that would create a place for the immigrants from Bulgaria to stay in Anatolia. The assistance of the Indian Muslims was not confined just to the Balkan war, but continued during the World War I and the War of Independence.

Prominent Indian activist and scholar Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar (left) visiting the Ottoman Sultanate and dressed in an Ottoman uniform; seen with him is Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari (right), who was the leader of the Indian Muslim Medical Mission which was a group that treated wounded Ottoman soldiers during the Balkan Wars – early 1900’s.

Some of the team consisted of young volunteers who were from rich families in India, and were studying in London. They paid for all their expenses including the costs of the Egyptian physician Selim Bey to come to Istanbul.

Rohingya people sent 1,391 pounds to the Ottomans in 1913 for the relief of the Turkish people wounded in the Balkan Wars, which took place between 1912 and 1913.
Letter from 1913 stating Burmese Muslims donated 220 sterling to Ottoman Consulate in Rangoon to help Ottoman orphans during Balkan Wars.
An Indian Muslim weeping as he describes the difficulties the Ottoman army were facing whilst collecting donations.
1 Egyptian (Middle) and 4 Indian Doctors coming to support the Ottoman Red Crescent, 1910s
An Ottoman Document about the money sent by Bengali Muslims for the ghazis and their families in the Tripoli War, 1912
Aid Campaign of Indian Muslims for the Ottoman Empire During the Balkan Wars, 1912

Source: Zuhal Ozaydin, 2003, Istanbul University CerrahPasa Medical School.

Photo : Ottoman Imperial Archives 

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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started heritagetimes.in to explore, and bring to the world, the less known historical accounts. Mr. Ashraf has been associated with the museums at Red Fort & National Library as a researcher. With a keen interest in Bihar and Muslim politics, Mr. Ashraf has brought out legacies of people like Hakim Kabeeruddin (in whose honour the government recently issued a stamp). Presently, he is pursuing a Masters from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, JMI & manages heritagetimes.in.

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