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Celebrating a legendary feminist educator Fatima Sheikh on her birthday

Sheikh along with Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, co-founded the Indigenous Library, one of India's first schools for girls

Celebrating a legendary feminist educator Fatima Sheikh on her birthday
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Fatima Sheikh, an another notable woman who stood beside the great educator Savitribai Phule and Jyotirao Phule. She taught girls in Phule's Bhidewada school, went door to door encouraging families to send their daughters to the school, and managed the school's operations. The entire girls' school initiative would not have taken shape without her contribution. Despite this, Fatima Sheikh has been virtually forgotten in Indian history.

Her role as a social reformer and educator was no less than the Phules. Rather, she would've had to overcome greater hurdles. We can only imagine how difficult it must have been for a Muslim woman to struggle for girls' education, which was considered irreligious at the time, especially in the Hindu-dominated Pune society, because her effort is not documented. Some sources claim that her actions were opposed by both the Hindu and Muslim communities. Savitribai was fighting against Brahminism's bigotry. She was an insider who was fighting against the ills of the system.. Opening the gates of her schools for Dalits was her challenge to patriarchy and the caste system at the same time.

Fatima Sheikh, on the other hand, had a different idea. Islam does not permit girls from receiving an education. As a result, her participation in Phule's anti-caste project qualifies her more of a revolutionary. She wasn't fighting for her community alone. The Muslim clergy were not happy with her efforts to introduce modern education to Muslim girls. We know about some of these things because Savitribai noted Fatima Sheikh's involvement in letters to her husband. Fatima Sheikh is presently featured in an Urdu school textbook in Maharashtra.

Fatima Sheikh's contributions were largely ignored even by Muslim intellectuals. A Muslim lady fighting for a casteless society and modern education for females is unlikely to fit with dominant Muslim narratives. In 1848, Fatima Sheikh and Savitribai founded a girls' school. Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which eventually became Aligarh Muslim University, was founded in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Khan is regarded as one of backbone forerunner of modern education, and rightly so. Fatima Sheikh, on the other hand, was not given the same honour despite conducting equally pioneering work.

We know so little about Fatima Sheikh since she never wrote any treaties about her life or work. Savitribai and her husband, Jyotirao Phule, on the other hand, wrote a lot. Thesis, essays, plays, poems, and even love letters were written by them. we must accept that there isn't enough information on her life and accomplishments available.

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