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In 1875, when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan established Madrasatul Uloom in Aligarh to infuse the sunshine of schooling within the Muslim group, practically 1,000 kilometres away, Thakur Das was born to a Kashmiri Brahmin household at Bhantani village in Kashmir’s Poonch. Das turned a pioneer of feminine schooling in British India whereas braving the conservative perspective throughout the Muslim group.

While the Madarsatul Uloom developed into Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College in 1877, and later into Aligarh Muslim University (1920), the establishment that was based by Thakur Das — who transformed to Islam and have become Sheikh Abdullah — turned a full-fledged Women’s College and a part of AMU.

Early life

Born practically 145 years in the past on June 21, 1874, Thakur Das was the eldest of 4 brothers. As Persian was the courtroom language in Kashmir and in addition the medium of literature, he studied it, but in addition gained information of Sanskrit and English.

As destined, Das met Hakeem Maulvi Nooruddin — the chief doctor to the Maharaja of Kashmir — which modified the course of his life. Maulvi Nooruddin typically visited Poonch and after persuasion, Das joined him in Jammu to review medication. After his main schooling, Das left for Lahore in 1887 and took admission in Government High School. Maulvi Nooruddin remained in contact.

In Lahore, he attended the Mohammedan Educational Conference in 1888, and was a lot impressed. By 1890, Thakur Das had transformed to Islam; he was now Abdullah. This meant that he ceased to have cordial relations together with his household. An even bigger position, nevertheless, had been carved out for him.

In 1891, when he took admission in Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh, Abdullah got here in touch with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founding father of MAO College, and his companions. Abdullah accomplished his regulation and served as a librarian in the identical school and later began his personal observe at Aligarh courtroom in 1900. In the meantime, Sir Syed died in 1898.

Sheikh Abdullah began the primary faculty on this constructing. (Source: Public Relations Office, AMU Aligarh)

Female schooling

Convincing Muslims for feminine schooling was not simple. Strict observance of purdah, restricted and monitored motion of females, and them sharing house with different low caste women had been causes sufficient to oppose their schooling.

Even the intelligentsia weren’t in assist. “When his proposal was not well-received, Sheikh Abdullah started his school nearly five kilometres from MAO College in Aligarh. You can say that female education had apartheid status,” Dr Rahat Abrar, former director, Urdu Academy, AMU mentioned.

In A Woman of Substance, the memoirs of Khurshid Mirza‘, written by Abdullah’s granddaughter Lubna Kazim (Mirza was his  daughter), it’s talked about: “A meeting of the Muslim women was held to coincide with the 1905 Muslim Educational Conference in Aligarh. The exhibition was a huge success. There was a great deal of opposition, and permission to use one of the buildings on the campus was refused. At the last minute, an affluent Parsi friend of Sheikh Abdullah offered his house in Aligarh town (for the meeting).”

Sheikh Abdullah knew the nuances nicely. The organisation, Mohammedan Educational Conference, offered him with a platform to share his views. He was elected secretary of the Female Education Section of the All India Mohammedan Education Conference in Delhi in 1902. While earlier it was solely males who debated the difficulty of ladies’s schooling, at his behest in 1903, girls had been allowed to hearken to speeches on the annual convention, albeit with strict adherence to purdah. He toured throughout the nation to propagate his thought and even printed a month-to-month journal Khatoon (1904) highlighting the significance of feminine schooling. This journal proved to be a turning level as Muslim females throughout India — who had entry to schooling and had been privileged — began to put in writing mails supporting the trigger.

Sheikh Abdullah’s mission began gaining momentum, however he understood there must be involvement of Muslim females. It was his thought to start out the craft exhibition of merchandise made by Muslim girls in 1905. The merchandise featured embroidery work, work and different utilities. These exhibitions had been well-attended and the gross sales introduced some cash for the trigger.

In between, the much-needed impetus got here from the Begum of Bhopal Sultan Jahan. She was the one Muslim lady ruler in India throughout that point, and a staunch supporter of feminine schooling. Sheikh Abdullah wrote her a letter, and in her reply on December 21, 1904, she assured a month-to-month stipend of Rs 100 from the day the varsity began functioning.

“Begum Sultan Jahan was a learned lady. She supported female education. She wrote several books and even a travelogue of her Haj Pilgrimage. Her support to Sheikh Abdullah provided the much-needed impetus and even a recognition of his efforts,” Professor Shafey Kidwai, Chairman, Department of Mass Communication, AMU mentioned.

The Aligarh Girls School was arrange in 1906 with just a few college students, largely from his household. It was a Herculean activity to carry the scholars to high school in a palanquin. By 1914, there was sufficient cash to construct a hostel.

women's college Women’s College (Source: Public Relations Office, AMU Aligarh)

After preliminary hiccups, the varsity turned an intermediate school in 1926 and later, part of AMU as Women’s College. The basis stone of the school was laid by Lady Potter, the spouse of the then Lieutenant Governor, on November 7, 1911. But, the muse day is noticed on February 2, which is the wedding anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah and Waheed Jahan.

The position of his spouse isn’t any much less; she shared the equal duty of instructing college students initially, taking care of the boarding college students and above all, vouching for the reason for feminine schooling by delivering speeches. She raised 5 daughters and one son along with her husband, and it’s mentioned that Sheikh Abdullah’s campaign for girls’s schooling would have been incomplete with out Waheed Jahan.

Lubna Kazim, in one other occasion in her guide, says: ‘”In one speech at a gathering of Muslim women in support of women’s schooling, she (Waheed Jahan) talked about that in Turkey and Egypt girls had been being educated and this had been helpful to their societies.” The speech was printed in Khatoon, January 1906.

Khurshid Mirza (Khurshid Jahan) joined the movie business and labored with main stars with the display screen title ‘Renuka Devi’. Sheikh Abdullah didn’t hassle in regards to the brickbats on this matter both and by no means interfered in his daughter’s life. Before migrating to Pakistan, she had a profitable profession with movies like Bhabhi, Ghulami, Sahara, Samrat Chandragupta, and so forth.

Dr Furqan Sambhali, Assistant Professor in Women’s College mentioned Sheikh Abdullah’s daughters served as principals of the school. “Two of his daughters, Khatoon Jahan and Mumtaz Jahan, served as principals. Waheed Jahan was fondly addressed as ‘Ala Bi‘ and Sheikh Abdullah as ‘Papa Miyan‘ by the scholars,” he mentioned.

Clearly a person forward of his occasions, Sheikh Abdullah lived in Aligarh until his demise in 1965. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1964. He additionally served as a member of the UP Legislative Council.

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