Omer Farooq

Sopore woman challenges patriarchy by socio religious activism

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Sopore, 15 May 2018: Born in New Colony area of Apple Town, Mubeena Ramzan is an epitome of bravery, straightforwardness ever since her childhood.

Mubeena, in her late thirties, runs two institutions: Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat, based in Sopore and in Srinagar under the aegis of a registered public trust namely ‘Mahdul Muslimat Educational Trust.’ Besides, she also heads a socio-religious organization, ‘Ansar un Nisa.’

“Once there was a religious gathering (of males) in our home. (And) I (suddenly) entered the room and asked the participants if they believed in Islamic tradition, why their women do not come to fore for this cause”, she shares an incident revealing her straight forwardness. This action invited wrath of my father.

Campus of Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimaat at Srinagar.

After pursuing bachelors degree from Islamia College Sopore, under the aegis of Anjuman Moin ul Islam, a local public body, Mubeena graduated in MA and M Phil from University of Kashmir (KU). Islamia College was a girls-only college which was burnt when armed insurgency broke out.

At KU, Mubeena completed her two theses on Islamic Law and Social Evils and is currently working on Shah-e-Hamdan and Orientalism which is expected to be complete soon.

Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimaat campus at Sopore.

Apart from academics, Mubeena had keen interest in social, political and religious activism. She was once associated with Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) J&K. Later on the differences grew with DeM for it being more into political spectrum. “I left from the party as I wanted to do activism on academic parameters”, she said.

Having both literary and activism leaning, Mubeena was inspired by the literature of all Islamic thoughts. “I studied all schools of thought; however, Zainab Al Ghazali, Dr Farhat Hashmi, Yivone Ridley I have also read the works of Maryam Jameela extensively”, said Mubeena.

After parting ways from DeM in 2004, Mubeena took the charge of the girls-only seminary style madrasa namely Jamia Islami Mahdul Muslimat, which had been established in 2001.

Feeling the dearth of muslim women scholars in the field of religious sciences, Mubeena has now dedicated life to the institution from which so far three batches are passed out after completing five year courses in different religious studies. The institution grew and another branch of it was opened in Srinagar in 2008. Nearly 200 female students are pursuing religious education at the two institutions.

A religious gathering organized by ‘Ansar un Nisa.’

About this institute and journey, Mubeena said, “Initially, we faced a lot of problems both financially as well as morally. My life experiences were more than that of my age which boosted my morale. Since, we live in a patriarchal society so I was asked not to do it as I cannot head a religious institution. Even some traditional scholars discouraged me. I replied them about the roles played by our sahabiyat in many fields of life. It was all by the grace of Allah that my dreams got fulfilled. Today we are teaching Islamic education to nearly 200 students. Three batches of Aalimah courses comprising 150 students have graduated. Though our syllabus for aalimah courses are on Dar ul Uloom Deoband pattern but we also teach languages viz English, Urdu, Arabic and other skills like tailoring so that our students could compete and be self-reliant. Owing to financial constrains we are yet to achieve many more dreams.”

Apart from imparting education and meet the other challenges the institution and organization headed by Mubeena Ramazan also counsels the parents to make them realize their duties vis-a-vis their religion and children. When this reporter was talking a person entered whose 11 year daughter is enrolled in the madrasa. “He has now left all bad habits. After the death of his wife he used to drink alcohol along with his friends and would tell his little daughter that it was a juice. We counseled him a lot and now he is a responsible father”, said Mubeena about him.

Mubeena along with other women formed a socio religious organization, “Ansar Un Nisa” in 2014 which conducts religious gatherings in different parts of valley including educational institutions. The organization provides helping hand to the needy, would-be brides, widows, orphans and also establishes vocational training centres.
Reflecting upon the growing challenges of western ideologies likes that of feminism which claims to be movement of womens rights and emancipation, Mubeena said, “Those who know Islam can never be inspired by these slogans. Islam has uplifted women while as these ideologies and movements are empty and mirage.”

Mubeena Ramzan has travelled to London, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan for participation in many international conferences and workshops.

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