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Samima Khatun’s Inspiring Journey

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Samima Khatun

Samima Khatun, the daughter of an imam from West Bengal’s East Burdwan district, has been awarded a travel grant to present her paper at an international conference in London. The conference is being co-organized by Imperial College London and University College London. The grant is worth nearly 200,000 rupees. It was never easy for a girl belonging to a lower-middle-class Muslim family to come this far. She is scheduled to deliver a paper titled Exploring the Thermodynamics And Conformational Aspects Of Sulindac And Chlorpromazine Binding With BSA at the 26th International Conference on Chemical Thermodynamics: ICCT-2020 that is scheduled to be held between July 19 to 23 in London.
The travel grant is sponsored by Nature Research, under its subfield, the Communications Journals, which offers it in three subjects: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Samina was awarded the Communications Chemistry grant which is given to only one candidate all over the world in the field of Chemistry.
The 29-year-old woman is from Nischintapur village in East Burdwan’s Khandaghosh locality. Samima did her matriculation and higher secondary from Al Ameen Mission. She completed her B.Sc, M.Sc in Chemistry at Aligarh Muslim University. She was awarded a doctorate under the supervision of Professor Riyazuddeen, Department of Chemistry, at the same university. She also worked as a Research Associate in a CSIR Project in the Department of Chemistry, University of Delhi. Currently, she works as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, at Aligarh Muslim University on a contractual basis.
Apart from all this, she is also a devout practicing Muslim. The second daughter of Sk Rahamat Ali, she has four other siblings. The 57-year old Ali, a graduate in Political Science from the University of Burdwan, runs a small stationery shop at a nearby village, Khejurhati, were he used to be the imam of the village mosque for a monthly remuneration of 700 rupees. But for the last two years because of his age, he only runs the shop.
During her doctorate studies, Samima married Tahasin Mondal, a scholar in the Department of Sanskrit of Aligarh Muslim University in 2017. She says that it was because of her father and husband that she could reach where she is now. She says her real strength was her determination to fulfill her father’s dream and her desire to achie something noble in life.
“My dreams come true partially when my parents sent me to Al Ameen Mission where I got admission with very nominal monthly fees, 120 rupees per month. The secretary of the mission agreed to admit me because of my zeal for study, for he could read my dreams in my eyes and that’s why he even paid me 1,250 a month until I started getting stipends. It was because of him that I came to this stage of success.”
Neither her family, religion, nor her villagers were any hindrances for her education. It is normally difficult for a Muslim girl to stay away from home for long. Besides her parents’ support, Samima balanced the practice of her faith with the demands of a modern educated girl. She has now become a role model for local Muslim girls and their parents, who now send their girl children for higher studies. “I was never told either by my parents or by any of my villagers that I should not leave home for education. Rather my father paid extra care to send me first to the Mission when I was in the ninth grade. He only spent his earnings only for the education of his daughters and not for his son. It was later followed by my co-villagers and they started sending their girl child outside the home for their education.”
Asked whether her in-law’s had any problem with her education and staying outside, she replied, “Not at all. Like my family, my husband, my in-laws have told me to do whatever I wish to pursue and forbade me to worry about it.”
To another question her future plan, she said, “I want to go back to my home state once I get a government job there. I have many wishes to follow for my community as it is lagging in all sorts of fields, especially for Muslim women whose condition is worst.”
Her message to Muslim women, “No one can change your life except your self-respect, hardwork, proper education. So have it, do it, grab it. You women! Change your life by yourself.”
(Extracted from an article hosted on mattersindia.com)