Islamic Voice
Jamadi Ul Akhir 1422
September 2001
Volume 15-09 No:177

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Muslim Women: Service above Self
Cuckoos and Pelicans

Muslim Women

Service above Self

Professionally competent Muslim women doing yeoman service to community

M. H. Lakdawala

Women are termed as weaker sex when it comes to Muslim women the images that conjures up are illiterate, meek, and highly conservative.

But unlike stereotype images of Muslim women, there are slew of qualified and professionally competent Muslim women, who are devoting their talent and time for the upliftment of the community in various spheres sans famous surnames, ample inheritance or godfathers, these Muslim women works in grime and dust to help the deprived section of the community.

Dr. Tahir Mukadam, who has done doctorate in social work, regularly conducts surveys in the Muslim dominated slums for the various organizations that work at the grassroots level. These surveys help NGOs to work efficiently in the slums. “Although many social organizations work amongst the slum dwellers, I observed that very few have the knowledge and statistics about the actual ground realities. I consulted a few of my friends and started doing surveys in slums”, said Dr. Mukadam.

Nafisa Syed had a two-year stint as a copywriter in an advertising agency before she was married. Mother of two, Nafisa today is sponsoring 15 poor families, by supplying them their monthly quota of ration and education expenses for children. “Spending two years with advertising fraternity helped me develop contacts with the corporate world. These contacts I utilize to raise fund to help 15 poor families”, she said.

In India academic degrees and professional competence is more or less related to employment, earning and career. Very rarely, professionally competent and experienced individuals exclusively serve the society.

Bravo to these women who inspite of heavy odds, devotedly use their talent and qualification for deprived sections.

Zarina Tambe, an M A in Urdu, runs a toy bank at Mahim Dharavi for the kids living in slums operating from her two-bedroom flat, Zarina personally visit slums to distribute toys amongst children. Her husband, a businessman offered her to finance her toy bank but she refused.

“I along with my two college friends Rehana and Shamim collect old newspaper from our relatives and friends and sell them to raise fund for our toy bank,” reveals Zarina.

Dr. Zahida Shaikh, a pediatrician stopped practicing after her first child. Mother of three daughters Dr. Zahida today actively participates in the parents-teachers Association (PTA) of her daughter’s school in Bandra. She supervises and conducts medical check up of school students periodically. “This way I can make use of my medical degree and also keep in touch with the profession” said Dr. Zahida.

Rehana, Shamina and Abida, all post graduate and housewives have a unique mission of life. “To feed the hungry”, these women who live in South Mumbai keep tab on the community halls in their area. During weekend and whenever any function or ceremony is held in the hall they approach the host with the request to hand over them the leftover food, which they distribute to poor and hungry in the slum areas. “No doubt we are able to do this work with the cooperation of our husband,” said Rehana.

According to Shamina the group also had an arrangement with a couple of social restaurants to hand over them the surplus cooked food. “On our request they preserve the surplus food in deep freezer so that next day we distribute amongst the poor”, she said.

No doubt these women do not preside over art exhibitions or get into the hustle and bustle of organizing seminars. Nor their name appears in newspapers. In fact they silently serve the society believing in the credo ‘Help others so that they help themselves’.

Khatija Merchant MA, BEd runs a play school at Colaba in South Mumbai. She resigned from her teaching job in a prestigious school after marriage. Since last five years her husband is in Oman on a job. To utilize her time for constructive activity, Khatija started a play school for street girls.

Khatija feels that street girls are the most vulnerable section of society. Hence she wants to teach them the basics and help them in enrolling in Municipal schools. Toys and tambourines, books and blocks, stories and games, sticks for continuing, seeds for planting is what unfolds in her play school. The most interesting part of her school is the interactive teaching aids used by her which stimulate the child’s imagination by providing opportunities for the child to grow and develop while reading, listening and playing.

“The basic idea in starting play school for street girls is to be a bridge between them and primary school”, said Khatija. Kishwar Ansari after completing her MA in Arabic from Mumbai University opted for Diploma in Journalism. Since last year she contributes articles on Islam to couple of Islamic websites. Also she translates original Arabic literature into English which are loaded on the Islamic sites. . “Considering the misunderstanding regarding Islam”, says Kishwar, “It’s essential to project the correct image of Islam and for that the correct and unadulterated message of it is brought before the people”.

The unique thing about these women is their sincerity and commitment. Neither they go after publicity nor are willing to boast about their work. Even refused photographs, as they would not like to attract publicity, which they say would distract them from their basic work.

These women can be a source of inspiration for slew of educated and competent women who are unable to pursue their career for various reasons.


Cuckoos and Pelicans

Musarath Fathima

Among human beings too there are a few cuckoos and some pelicans. Sounds incredible isn’t it, but true. Unlike in the past, when the mother was the first teacher and home the first school, in these modern times children, as soon as they are able to stand up, are sent to Baby sitting or pre-nursery schools and in some cases further to boarding schools. The responsibility of training fall on the teachers and schools as the children spend three-fourths of their entire childhood away from homes. They miss out on the influence, guidance and affection of parents. When it is observed that a child should be trained at home in a congenial atmosphere, most parents argue that we are not pelican, we are performing the important obligation, that is financing the child’s education. But when the child falters or takes a wrong step in his adult life, the parents blame each other.

While some parents cast themselves in the mould of pelicans, who sometimes forsake their careers and give up the conveniences and luxuries for their children’s welfare and better future. They entertain hardships and inconveniences voluntarily to give their children the right atmosphere for growing up, to impart them better values, in order to mould their character, so that they can become ideal men and women and be successful in their lives. When asked why take up so much trouble, they reply: “Our children are blessings upon us and an obligation, we do not want to be cuckoos”. But when the children grow up and become busy in their respective careers or lives, the parents regret the decision they had taken, of the opportunities they missed and inculcate a feeling of sacrifice for the sake of their children.

But parents need not be either a cuckoo or a pelican, but can do a balancing act like the penguin, with a sense of duty and no burden, who share their responsibility of bringing up their young ones equally happily.


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