This International Women’s Day, Heritage Times wishes to curate a list of important Muslim women who have made significant contributions in society and the paved the way for more women to walk into the public sphere.
Saliha Abid Hussain
Saliha Abid Hussain (1913 – 1988) was an Indian writer of Urdu literature. Some of her prominent works are Azra, Rekhta, Yadgaray hali Baat Cheet and Jane Walon ki Yad AtiHai.
Her writing covered several themes, including feminism. Apart from her writings she also spoke against issues like Triple Talaq.
In 1983, she received the fourth highest Indian civilian honour of Padma Shri from the Government of India. Interested readers can read more on the life of this brilliant woman through her biography written by Sughra Mehdi and published in 1993.
Mofida Ahmed (1921-2008) was an Indian politician belonging to the Indian National Congress. She was Assam’s first female Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha and also one of the first few Muslim women to be a Member of Parliament in India.
She was born in Jorhat Town and pursued her education privately. Later in life, she contributed articles to Assamese journals.
She has worked as Joint Secretary at Red Cross Society, Jorhat during 1946-49 and for the National Savings Scheme in an honorary capacity between 1957-58.
She was the Convener of The Women’s department of the Congress at Golaghat since its inception in 1953 till 1956.
Mumtaz Jahan Haider
Mumtaz Haider was the first principal of the Woman’s College Aligarh. She was also one of the first female student to complete her graduation and post-graduation in English from Lucknow University in 1931.
After completing a year of teaching at her parental institution, Mumtaz haider proceeded to Leeds in the UK for Bachelor of Education and came back to Aligarh.
In 1935, she married on her own accord Mr. Hayder Khan, head of the department of Chemistry and her senior by couple of decades.
She became the Principal of Women’s College in in 1940 and served the cause of education for thirty-one years.
Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul
Begum Qudsia Aijaz Rasul (1909 – 2001) was the only Muslim woman in the Constituent Assembly of India that drafted the Constitution of India.
She was one of the few women who successfully contested from a non-reserved seat and was elected to the U.P legislative assembly in 1937, having remained a member until 1952.
She held the office of the Deputy President of the council from 1937 to 1940 and acted as the Leader of Opposition in the council from 1950 to 1952–54. She was the first woman in India and the first Muslim woman in the world to do so.
In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India and was one of 28 Muslim League members who finally joined. She was the only Muslim woman in the Assembly.
In 1950, the Muslim League in India dissolved and Begum Aijaz Rasul joined the Congress. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1952-54 and was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1969 to 1989.
Between, 1969 and 1971, she was the Minister for Social Welfare and Minorities. In 2000, she was awarded a Padma Bhushan, the third highest Indian civilian award from the Government of India.
Born as Salma Begum in a Muslim family of a small town Dibai, District Bulandshahar in the northern state of India, Uttar Pradesh, she went on to become the first Muslim woman in the world to do her PhD in Sanskrit (1969).
Her dissertation thesis in Sanskrit was on the ‘Types of Heroines in Sanskrit Dramas’. After her studies she taught at the Sanskrit Department in Aligarh Muslim University.