Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

RN collaborates with Royal Museums Greenwich for special event

RN collaborates with Royal Museums Greenwich for special event
19 December 2017
A group of Muslim students from London have been exploring aspects of maritime history at a unique event organised in conjunction with the Royal Museums Greenwich.

35 students and their teachers from Azhar Academy Girls School in Forest Gate attended a special ‘Muslims at Sea’ day, which set out to look at the contributions made by Muslim Sea-farers in history. Supported by the Royal Navy, the event also highlighted the work of today’s modern Navy working around the world and the various jobs they do.

“Today’s event is a pilot, which we are calling ‘Muslims at Sea’, and tells the story of Muslim Seafarers through the ages”, said Lieutenant Commander Hannah MacKenzie, who is the Naval Regional Commander’s Diversity Officer and responsible for community engagement.

“We've introduced the students to one of our Muslim Naval Officers, who's also a Senior Surgeon in Defence Medicine, and he’s told them his Navy Story through a phone link we set up.”

The Group were given a guided tour around the museum before taking part in an interactive exercise, where they were asked to deploy Royal Navy ships on the museum’s World Map. 

Many of the students were also enthralled during an enlightening talk by Dr Aaron Jaffer of the Royal Museum’s Greenwich, about the connections and importance of Muslims sailors and their part in Britain’s maritime history.

Today’s event is a pilot, which we are calling ‘Muslims at Sea’, and tells the story of Muslim Seafarers through the ages

Lieutenant Commander Hannah MacKenzie, the Naval Regional Commander’s Diversity Officer

"We've pulled together different stories from our collections and right across our galleries that relate to Muslim Seafarers who have gone to Sea over the centuries," said Dr Aaron.

"It's gone down brilliantly, I've been really impressed by all the questions we've had during the day. We've had students asking about the Muslims in the pictures and how the objects we’ve used came to the museum, as well as how many people would it take to sail the ships they used. We've also been asked about women serving on ships and what their particular jobs would have been."

Many of the students were surprised by how Muslims sailors had explored parts of the world which were thought inaccessible to Europeans and in particular how important Muslim women were to the ancient mariners.

"I've learnt a lot about the life-styles of the people on the ships and some of the things they got up to on their adventures," said Sabeehah Sultanah (14).

“It’s important to learn about the Muslim sailors, it's something I wouldn't have heard about normally and it's nice to see what they did and how it was appreciated in history, it's been fascinating."

Teachers have also been impressed that the students have been keen to know more. Ailah Khalil teaches Science at Azhar Academy.

"The whole day has been very educational for the girls; it's very cross -curricular, bringing together Geography, History and problem solving. It's very good for them all to get a better understanding of what the Royal Navy does. We hear and read about the role of the Navy, but here they can ask real Sailors what they do."

Organisers of the event were pleased that it’s been a success and are looking to stage other events at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. 

Dr Aaron Jaffer added, “I can't speak highly enough of the Royal Navy, they've been so helpful in putting together the day and helping us come up with the wonderful content and also generating the enthusiasm during the activities. I can see this idea really taking off and I look forward to working with the Royal Navy again in the future.”

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.