Muslim girls in Azamgarh getting higher education, giving tough fight to boys

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

Part of the Azamgarh speaks series.

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New Delhi: Nikhat Bano is pursuing MA in geography at Aligarh Muslim University. She did graduation also at AMU. She is from Azamgarh. Her village is not much developed but she herself reflects the developed thinking of Azamgarh Muslims about woman education.

She is not alone at AMU. There are many Muslim girls from Azamgarh at the university. Many are studying at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi also.

In the beginning parents would hesitate to send their daughters in colleges. Some had misconception about certain courses or jobs. Take Nikhat Bano’s case. After graduation she wanted to do post-graduation in mass communication at AMU and her name had appeared in the list of selected candidates for the course.

“But there was strong opposition from my parent. They thought Nikhat would wear jeans as she would become a journalist after the mass communication course,” said her brother Mohd. Bilal, ex-president of students union at Shibli College. This may be an exceptional case as the family has always encouraged their women for higher education. And that’s why Nikhat is doing MA and Bilal’s wife Masooma Bilal is currently doing Ph.D. in Urdu at Shibli College.

The educational awareness among Muslims in Azamgarh in the last two decades has benefited not only boys but also girls as many are now doctors and teachers and the new generation is giving tough fight to their male counterpart in every field of education both in the city and outside.

To educate women first madrasas (some dozens in the district) opened their branches exclusively for girls. A prominent one is Jamiatul Banat, branch of Jamiatul Falah in Bilariaganj. Jamiatul Banat has been functioning for about two decades. Of late, however, several women’s colleges have come up in villages of the district.

Niswan College in the city, Fatma Girls College in Daudpur and Ayesha Siddiqa College in Binapara are some of them. Sir Syed Technical Institute is soon going to be started. Its construction work has been completed. Mirza Ehsanullah Beg Girls’ Degree College, Meharawan Inter College and Degree College for women, Jamia Islahul Banat and Shaukat Azmi Computer Information Institute (named after Shabana Azmi’s mother) are some other educational institutes.

Muslim women in the district have registered their presence both in the field of teaching and health.

Dr Zarrin Fatma and Dr Suraiyya Kausar are among them. The first runs Ishaq Hospital while the other runs a nursing home, both in the town.

Their number is overwhelming in teaching. Shibli College itself has several Muslim women as teachers.

Nasreen Ahmad and Nishat Perween, both at the Dept. of Education, Shaheen Jafri, teacher of Sanskrit language, Ruby Ahmad, lecturer of chemistry and Dr Parween Nesa, teacher of Hindi language are among them.

That parents there are now sending their daughters to colleges in good number is evident from their presence at the Shibli College. Of 10,000 students at the collge, about 4,000 are girls, 65% of which are Muslim girls.

The Muslim girls are not only getting traditional modern education but are also taking interest in technical education.

Shibli College is also providing a diploma course in computer application. “Of 80 seats, 40 are occupied by girls. Of them 35 are Muslim girls,” says Zahid Ahmed, an official with the college’s computer section. Most of the Muslim girls doing the course are either graduates or undergraduates.