First Kashmiri woman awarded ‘Influential Personality in Muslim World’ is a teacher of life lessons

First Kashmiri woman awarded ‘Influential Personality in Muslim World’ is a teacher of life lessons

Srinagar: It was not easy for Dr Mubeena Ramzan to start a madrassa for Kashmiri girls and women in Kashmir. She was opposed by many religious leaders and clerics, who questioned how a woman could run an institution of Islamic learning.
“Alhamdulillah, now their perception has changed, as we are successfully running three branches now,” she says today, proud of her work that has been recognised internationally. In October last year, Dr Mubeena Ramzan was awarded as “Influential Personality in the Muslim World” by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought based in Amman. Dr Ramzan is only the second Kashmiri to have received this recognition, after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Dr Ramzan’s mission is to educate and empower the women of Kashmir. She runs the Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat, based in Sopore and with branches in Srinagar, and also heads a socio-religious organisation, the Ansar un Nissa. The former institute graduates aalimahs (religious scholars) whilst the latter provides a helping hand to the needy, would-be brides, widows, orphans, and also establishes vocational training centres.
Since her childhood, Dr Ramzan, who is a native of Sopore town, was interested in activism and religious teaching. After her initial schooling at Islamia High School in Sopore, she graduated and then did research in Islamic studies with specialisation in Islamic Law, Jurisprudence (Fiqh), and Orientalism.
Dr Ramzan was well settled with a teaching job, but during her research on Kashmiri society and its social evils, she realised that she needed to do something for women.
“I always wanted to help other women but the idea of setting up an institute for women came to me when I was doing my research. The idea was so strong that it motivated me to quit lecturer-ship in a BEd college in Kupwara. I started the Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat under the aegis of Mahdul Muslimat Educational Trust in 2002, from a rented building in Sopore. It took eight years to purchase land and build a proper girls-only seminary-cum-skill school there,” she told Kashmir Reader.
At the Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat, the thrust of teaching is on religious scriptures, with subjects like Quranic exegesis, science of Hadith, Jurisprudence and History, but modern subjects of Science, Mathematics and English are also taught.
At the seminary, girls are taught languages of Arabic, English, and Urdu and are also trained in computers, stitching and designing skills to help them become competent and self-reliant, Dr Ramzan said.
“I want women to get evolved in every aspect, whether it is in their social or professional life. I believe when we move in the right direction, everything else becomes easy,” she says.
In 2013, Dr Ramzan floated the idea of setting up a women’s welfare organisation. “In 2013 we called a meeting of women from different walks of life. About a hundred of them gathered in Sopore, where we decided to start some welfare initiatives for women. As a result, in March 2014, we started the Ansar un Nissa,” Dr Ramzan says.
She says that only better upbringing of children can lead to a better society. “It is important to have a balanced approach where woman and man both take care of their roles and responsibilities,” she says.
Dr Ramzan is hopeful that she will able to open more such institutions in Kashmir, where a large number of women and girls are deprived of education. “It is my mission. I want to do so in whatever way I can. For this I need help from all sections of society, so that women of this place don’t remain uneducated,” she says.