Women's College

Struggle for Women’s Education

and

Establishment of Women’s College

By Afzal Usmani

Women's College5

Women’s College

Girls School6

After establishing the MAO College, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his associates in Aligarh Movement started to realize the need of women’s education. In 1896, the annual executive session of Muslim Educational Conference was held in Aligarh and a proposal to start a women education section in Muslim Educational Conference was accepted and Justice Karamat Hussain was appointed as its Founding Secretary. Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Sahabzada Aftab Ahmad Khan, Janab Sultan Ahmad and Haji Ismail Khan were asked to assist Justice Karamat Hussain. In the annual session of Muslim Educational Conference of 1898 in Lahore, a separate department of women’s education was established and Sahabzada Aftab Ahmad Khan was elected its Secretary. This started a wrath from the traditional Muslims of India but a dedicated team of Janab Ummid Ali, Ghulam-us-Saqlain and Haji Ismail Khan wrote several letters and article in Aligarh Institute Gazette and other reputed journals to defend the decision of Muslim Educational Conference to start a women’s educational movement. Justice Amir Ali presided over the annual session of MEC in 1899 at Calcutta and the idea to start girl’s schools is all of the state capital was accepted. It was also agreed that the Ulema will be consulted to develop the curriculum of the schools and the modern subjects of Science and Social Science will also be included the syllabus. In the session of December 1902 in Delhi under the leadership of H.H. Sir Agha Khan, young Shaikh Abdullah was appointed as Secretary to look into the women’s educational project and was asked to start the activities very aggressively.

Shaikh Abdullah’s leadership shaped the women’s educational movement and played a very important role for the future of women’s education in India. Young Shaikh Abdullah and his team started writing articles in favor of women’s education in different journals. A special issue of “Aligarh Monthly” in November 1903 was published on women, entitled “Hum aur hamari Khawateen”. Articles related to women’s education and their problems were written by, Syed Ghulam Neerang, Syed Sajjad Haider Yaldaram, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulvi Muhammad Akhtar. To further promote the cause of women’s education, in 1904, Shaikh Abdullah published a journal “Khatoon” from Aligarh which enabled the foundation of “Female Education Association”. The journal was continuously published till 1914 and the articles of Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Mualvi Zakaullah Khan, Justice Karamat Hussain, Shaikh Abdul Qadir, Syed Ahmad Dehlavi, Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri, Muhammadi begum, Nazar Sajjad, Nafees Dulhan (wife of Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani), Z.K.S. (daughter of Nawab Muzammilullah Khan) and Sughra Humayun Mirza were regularly published to this journals. In the annual session of 1905 at Aligarh, Begum Zahra Faizi (Murood-Janjeerah Bombay) lead the women education section and with the help of President of the session, Khalifa Muhhamad Hussain, Minister, State of Patialah, a resolution to start girls school under the Islamic tradition of ‘purdah’ and with modern science and sports activities were approved. This was the idea of Shaikh Abdullah which he had spread among the supporters of women’s education.

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Founders: Shaikh Abdullah (Papa Mian) (June 1874 - March 1965) & Begum Waheed Jahan

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First School 1906

The building where the school was started in 1906

Shaikh Abdullah led a delegation to Lt. Governor of United Province and also wrote a proposal to promote women’s education to Begum Sultan Jahan, ruler of Bhopal. Begum Sultan Jahan accepted the proposal and One Hundred Rupees per month grant was allocated to Shaikh Abdullah for women’s education. He faced a strong and stiff resistance from the community, but his commitment paid and finally he managed to start a girl’s school with 5 students and one teacher at a rented facility in Aligarh town on 19th October, 1906. His wife Begum Waheed Jahan, alias ‘Aala Bi’ provided him the strongest support. After 3 years, school received more support and popularity so they moved to a bigger rented facility in the area of ‘Bani Israilan’ of Aligarh town.

In 1908, Shaikh Abdullah bought Fourteen Beegha (14 Beegha) of land which was known as “Rai Bag” at that time. Shaikh Abdullah wrote to United Province state government for help the state government allocated Seventeen Thousand Rupees (17000/-Rs) for building of the school and a regular grant of two hundred fifty (250/- Rupees) were allocated for Girls School. On 7th November, 1911, foundation stone for the school building was laid down by H.H. Lady Porter, wife of Lt. Governor of United Province. A building for hostel was also constructed, which was named as “Waheedia Hostel”. The school and hostel buildings were inaugurated on 1st march, 1914 by H.H. Begum Sultan Jahan, ruler of Bhopal. In 1916, foundation stone of another hostel, “Sultania Hostel” was laid down by Begum Sultan Jahan, the ruler of Bhopal. In 1917, for the first time, the girls of this school appeared in Middle School Examination and one of the students, Hanifa Begum secured First Position and a scholarship was awarded to her. In 1919, the first batch of this school appeared in Matriculation examination of UP Board and all of them were successful. Begum Sultan Jahan, the founding Chancellor of newly formed Aligarh Muslim University was Chief Guest in the annual function of 1922 and emphasized the need of women’s education and requested AMU authorities to adopt this school as the role model of women’s education.

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In 1929, the school became Intermediate College and in 1930, during the Vice-Chancellorship of Sir Ross Masood, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad made a recommendation and girl’s college became women’s college under the affiliation of Aligarh Muslim University and till date is an integral part of Aligarh Muslim University. In 1932, Begum Khatun Jahan, daughter of Shaikh Abdullah, who had just returned from England after completing her M.A. in Education from Leeds University, was appointed as Principal of Women’s College. In 1935, graduation course of B.A. was introduced in the college. UP Government helped to establish new hostels and Science laboratories. In 1937, Shaikh Abdullah’s another daughter Mumtaz Jahan was appointed as Principal and she served for more than 30 years as Principal of women’s college.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad visited Aligarh in 1949 to address the annual Convocation. He paid a visit to women’s college was very much impressed by the progress of women’s college and announced an annual grant of Nine hundred thousand rupees (Rs. 900,000/-) and assured to get a regular due share from all the grants which the government of India will make to Aligarh Muslim University.

Women’s College provides extensive instructional and residential facilities for girl students. A Career Planning Centre has also been established for counseling and career planning of women students with University Grant Commission’s assistance. Womens’s Polytechnic is running several diploma level courses in Electronics and Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Costume Designing, Secretarial Practices etc. These courses are a part of vocationalisation scheme. The University has a Grievance Redressal Cell for matters exclusively relating to the women, part from General Grievance Cell for looking into the complaints of staff and the students. It has a Coaching and Guidance Centre for training and grooming of students, especially for the weaker sections of the society, and for preparing them for various All India Services. Women's College provides undergraduate teaching to women students in the faculty of Arts, Social Science, Science, Life Science, and Commerce. The college has recently started a post graduate course in Home Science. An Institution with international standard of undergraduate teaching, students of women's college are always front runner. Every year a number of girls are selected in M.B.A., M.C.A., MIBM, MBBS, B.Tech. and other competitive tests of AMU and other institutes of India.

The women’s college campus includes an academic complex of class rooms and seminar rooms, an auditorium, a well equipped library, administrative buildings , several residential hostels for about 1500 students. A career planning centre for women has been established in the college premises. A wide range of opportunities are available to College students for co-curricular and extra curricular activities. A large number of clubs and societies are run by the students. There are facilities for cultural events, N.C.C., Yoga, Taekwondo, Volley Ball , Table Tennis and Basket Ball.

At present a total of around 2699 students are enrolled in women's college. There are around 95 faculty members in the college. The following subjects are taught in women's college campus: English, Urdu,. Hindi, Sanskirt, Arabic, Linguistics, Fine Art (Faculty of Arts), History, Economics, Education, Political Science, Islamic Studies. Sociology (Faculty of Social Sciences), Botany, Zoology, Biochemistry, (Faculty of Life Sciences), Chemistry, Physics, Maths., Statistics, Geology, Geography (Faculty of Science), Home Science (Faculty of Agriculture),Theology (Faculty of Theology) and Physical Education.


Prof. Bilquis N. Waris is at present Principal of the college since 2008.

The following people have served as Women’s College Principals;
Mrs. Mumtaz Jahan Haider (1938-70),
Dr. Razia Khan (1970-83),
Prof. Miss A. Thomas (1983-87),
Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqi (1987-96),
Prof. Shan Mohammad (Actg-1996-97),
Prof Shaista Bano (Actg-1997-2000),
Prof. Amina Kishore (2000-07),
Prof. Arunima Lal (Actg -2007-08).

From the very beginning, the women’s college alumni were at par with their fellow University alumni in all walks of field of education, sports and live traditions of Aligarh Muslim University. The residential life in women’s college hostels and their activities are still remembered by their alumni and that mesmerized them even after many years of their departure from the college. They often share the nostalgic moments and events in their gatherings. The traditional introductions in the college campus for the fresher’s and on Saturday night in hostels have similar stories as of their counter part in the Muslim University campus. They are not far behind in allocation of Honorary Titles and nicknames to the fellow alumni and their teachers. Teasing fellow male visiting University students in women’s college campus is one of their favorite games. While we were participating in the annual literary and cultural activities of Abdullah Hall in women’s college campus, our fellow women’s college alumni punctured our bicycles and we were forced to walk from women’s college to our hostel on our way back. They even did not spare their male teachers too. I came to know from my elders who had served as faculty in women’s college, had to walk to their residence quite often.

There is a long list of prominent alumni who graduated from Women’s College and made a reputation in their respective walk of life. Begum Khatun Jahan, Mrs. Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Khursheed Jahan and Birjis Jahan (daughters of Shaikh Abdullah, Papa Mian) were among the early alumni of this college. Later the ranks were joined by literary giants like Ismat Chugtai and Dr. Salma Siddiqi, a prolific fiction writer, biographical sketcher and daughter of Prof. Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi, famous painting artist based in United States of America, Zarina Hashm, Nayyar Sultana, a well know actress of Pakistan and well known Hindi and Sanskrit writer, Mrs. Kusum Ansal. Begum Abida Ahmad, wife of President of India, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Mrs. Salma Ansari, wife of present Vice-president of India, Mr. Hamid Ansari also belongs to the same fraternity. Dr. Qudsia Tahseen, first female of Aligarh Muslim University to become a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore is a proud alumni of Women’s College of Aligarh Muslim University.



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President of India, H.E. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad and Begum Abida Ahmad (Women's College Alumni) Arriving at Aligarh to attend annual convention

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Prof. Miss A. Thomas (Principal - 1983-87) receiving H.H. Giani Zail Singh, President of India at Aligarh during his visit to attend annual convention of AMU

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Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Principal of Women's College with the graduating students of Women's College

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Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Principal 1938 - 70 with Nawab Chattari, Chancellor AMU Aligarh

Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Principal of Women's College with Nawab Chattari, Chancellor AMU Aligarh

With Sardar Jafri

Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqi, Principal of Women's College Receiving Mr. Syed Ali Sardar Jafri at Women's College

and with Nawab of Patudi

With Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Patudi at Women's College

with Syed Kirmani

With Mr. Syed Kirmani at Women's College

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Centennial Celebration in Feb 2007

Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqi (Left), Principal (1987-96), receiving Prof. Anwar J. Zuberi, VC University of Calicut in centennial celebration in Feb 2007

Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqi receiving receiving Prof. Anwar J. Zuberi, VC University of Calicut in centennial celebration in Feb 2007

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Kusum Ansal inaugurating the centennial issue of Women's College Magazine "Emergence of the new Women" at the centennial celebration in Feb 2007

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Centennial Celebration in Feb 2007


Founders

Principals




Distinguished Alumni




Female Education Association of Aligarh



Thank You

Dear Usmani Sahib

I was guided to your site via the informative article on "Mumtaz Apa" by Mr. Naveed Masood, which I read with great interest. Even though I only met her once as a very young child (and do not remember the meeting), she was a living presence in my life through my mother, Riaz Fatima Minai (originally Riaz Fatima Bilgrami) of Allah Wali Kothi, daughter of Qazi Azizuddin Bilgrami (who was Treasurer of AMU and Pro-Vice Chacellor for a brief time), known to a whole generation of Women's College alumni as "Riaz Apa". She was also the writer of the College's "tarana" (I don't know if it is still used). To her, "Mumtaz Apa" was a central figure in her life, and she spoke of her very often and very fondly, as she did of "Ala Bi", "Papa Mian" and "Khatoon Apa". I grew up in Karachi surrounded by an extensive community of Women's College alumni, most of them Ammi's students from her years as a lecturer in English at the College, and all of whom she regarded as her sisters (and I as "khalas":-) in the tradition of this great institution.

Thank you for maintaining this website and providing such extensive information about an institution that I have always loved - albeit from a distance.

Women's College

Afzal: ASAK

It is a good article. It cover lots of rare details.

After seeing the photograph I was reminded of my days. I use to teach two course in Girls college , one each in mathematics and statistics. Lots of good memories.

A. Abdullah
Potomac, MD
USA

Women's College

Thnaks a lot for the trouble that you took for me.
The article written by you recording the history of women's education in aligarh is very inspiring. The knowledge of such historical events and facts are very essential for us to keep ourselves active for gaining a distinct place in the society.
Pl keep such activities up.
With love
Naushad Ansari
Dehradun.

Women's College

ASAK Mr. Afzal Usmani

Thank you very much for an interesting and informative write-up. Qurrat-ul-Ain Haider (writer), Mohsina Kidwai (politician) and Anwar Jahan (Academic) are also among the products of this institution. By the way, I am also a proud alumni of AMU Girl's School. I studied there up to my Second Grade before transferring to Minto Circle in Third Grade.

I also agree with your statement about teasing visiting male students. I can confirm this assertion with my own personal experiences during my frequent visits as Club Secretary of NRSC 'A'.

Was-salaam
Khalid Omar Siddiqi
California

Womens College

Shaikh Abdullah’s leadership shaped the women’s educational movement and played a very important role for the future of women’s education in India. Young Shaikh Abdullah and his team started writing articles in favor of women’s education in different journals. A special issue of “Aligarh Monthly” in November 1903 was published on women, entitled “Hum aur hamari khawateen”. Articles related to women’s education and their problems were written by, Syed Ghulam Neerang, Syed Sajjad Haider Yaldaram, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulvi Muhammad Akhtar. To further promote the cause of women’s education, in 1904, Shaikh Abdullah published a journal “Khatoon” from Aligarh which enabled the foundation of “Female Education Association”. The journal was continuously published till 1914 and the articles of Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Mualvi Zakaullah Khan, Justice Karamat Hussain, Shaikh Abdul Qadir, Syed Ahmad Dehlavi, Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri, Muhammadi begum, Nazar Sajjad, Nafees Dulhan (wife of Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani), Z.K.S. (daughter of Nawab Muzammilullah Khan) and Sughra Humayun Mirza were regularly published to this journals. In the annual session of 1905 at Aligarh, Begum Zahra Faizi (Murood-Janjeerah Bombay) lead the women education section and with the help of President of the session, Khalifa Muhhamad Hussain, Minister, State of Patialah, a resolution to start girls school under the Islamic tradition of ‘purdah’ and with modern science and sports activities were approved. This was the idea of Shaikh Abdullah which he had spread among the supporters of women’s education.

Khatoon apa attended 'Leeds University' and not 'Ladies Universi

Dear Afzal,

Thank you very much for your email. The article was very informative and well-written. I did want to draw your attention to the fact that Khatoon apa attended 'Leeds University' and not 'Ladies University' as you have mentioned in the article, but realise how easily the error could have been made.

My reference that Khatoon Jahan Abdullah went to the University of Leeds, comes from:

"Report on the Work of Education Department, London, for April 1928 to March 1929, Office for the High Commission for India, (His Majesty's Stationary Office, London, 1928), p. 15."

Regards,

Farah Nizami
Oxford UK

Shere-Kashmir Shaikh Abdullah and Shaikh Abdulla(Papa Mian)

Dear Afzal Sb. Congratulations for such a well researched and well written article on the history of Women’s College. I have always wondered and still not sure, so I would like to take this opportunity to ask you. Is Shaikh Abdullah alias Papa Mian the same Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir? probably not! but are they related somehow?
It would also be nice to have something about Papa Mian himself from you in future if possible. We definitely need more articles like this to educate ourselves about our past.

Thanks and Regards,
Shariq M. Usmani

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Dear Shariq Usmani sahab,
Thanks for the nice comment.
This is for sure that these two Shaikh Abdullah are different persons.
To the best of my knowledge, these 2 are not at all related each other.
Shaikh Abdullah Papa Mian (Founder of Women's College) was a revert (convert muslim) and moved to Aligarh during his youth and never went back to Kashmir. Spend his whole life in Aligarh and his final resting place is also in Aligarh.

Thanks for the suggestions and my write-up on Shaikh Abdullah Papa Mian is almost complete and Insha-Allah you will see it very soon.

Regards.

Afzal Usmani

Beautiful article

Excellent article sir. I'm the editor-in-chief of hadi hasan hall for medical undergraduates. Dr Rahat Abrar has been very helpful to our editorial board also in providing such valuable info and historical photos. What an informative webpage, what an eyeopening website!

Syed faisal

a good piece by the great

A good piece by the great chronicler of our times "Mr. Afzal Usmani". Hope the College has now all the facilities for its students though a decade or so back it lacked some of the basic facilities. Extreme reverence of parents for their almamater came in the way of issues being raised by their wards.

Dr. Salman Sultan
Shibli National College
Azamgarh (UP)-India

This Old building used by 1906, I have seen

This Old building used by 1906, I have seen.

"""He faced a strong and stiff resistance from the community, but his commitment paid and finally he managed to start a girl’s school with 5 students and one teacher at a rented facility in Aligarh town on 19th October, 1906"""

I am not that old like this buliding, But I have seen and played cricket a lot in this building. But this is now changed into marriage hall.

Syed Wasif Husain

A nice Historical review

Salam O Alikum,

An impressive article is posted by Dr. Afzal Sb. How the dream of Women education in Muslims transform from theory to practice and Existing college.
In my view just after 100 year we need another movement to empower Muslims of India and aware them about their rights. We shud take collective step to develop our own media to address their problems. We are Humans and from the past activities we design our future.

Thanx
Allah Hafiz

Dr. Lord Wasim Reza

Mersmerised

Dear Afsal sb.A fantistic work... worth appreciating. We are indebted to Papa Mian and Alabi because of whom we are enjoying our educated life. Today i m really mersmerised after seeing my time women's college Principals..Prof A.Thomas n then Prof Zakia .A.Siddiqui..A dignified personalities whom i still admire.Another personality MRS. Amina Kishore wonderfull teacher in whom we saw a passion for her teaching which is in scarcity today.

Regards
Sabahat Ahmad
Principal kidzone

A glorious recollection of Womes College

A glorious recollection of history of Women's college.Its worthmentioning.
The building where the school started in 1906 was later bought by mr.Riaz mohammad khan ,now known as Riaz Manzil.

we are waiting for more such articles,a real insightful webpage.

Sana Qamar
UAE

Great Work

Assalam o Alaikum...
It really feels better and much better any step for A.M.U. dedicated work.
you are already doing gr8 for muslim of India and community vice versa.

Warm Regards,
Md Qayed Alam
Goa
#9990506275

My Alma Mater

I lived in nearby khurja in 1947.i had not yet started going to school.my two elder sisters zubeda and husna went to JAS high school,khurja.it was boys school.conservative pathans of khurja objected girls going to boys school.amman said ,give us money we will to aligarh.they silenced.it was friday 21st march boys fought with other.it escalated to the whole town.amman said,no way out,let us go to aligarh.we rented portion of a bungalow namedshanti niketan at marris road. miss ram was head mistress.with sisters she also permitted.i joined class1.husna vith class,zubeda ix class.the teachers were ichchan apa,zeenat apa.miss lal.mrs.bhatacharjiraunaq apa.for senior students afzal apa,fatma apa,ghizal apa,safia apa.mumtaz apa was the principal.after some time i went to mint circle.husna passed matric,zubeda inter.we migrated to pakistan.there were some other boys of my age.among girls,rosi,daisy and sabiha were my class mates.in 1949 college magazine published after a gap of many years containing articles written as far back as 1944.i remember nargis apas article tragedy is a nobler form of art.a girl under the books i liked most reviewed little women by louisa alcott and hardys tessof d,urbervilles. i had my first aquaintance with letters at the school. kaniz sibtain and luxmy bhargava were zubedas friends.

Affinity

Dear Dr. Kaniz Batool,
I felt affinity for you.i am oldboy of papa mians school.i saw himas a boy there.papa mian was quite old then,older than shown in the picture or it so looked to me then.now i am myself an old man living at karachi. i saw mirza saheb also at karachi.he was my uncle shaukats boss in police.shaukat did his B.A from aligarh university and he was with col.hyder khan in UTC.you indeed belong to good family.it is good you are telling this to your children.

Take care--
Asadk han

Affinity

Dear Mr. Asad Khan, I apologize for the delay in replying to your post. You are very kind and generous in your praise for my family. I am deeply touched by your personal recollections of Papa Mian and my nana Akbar Hussain Mirza. I was very close to my nana.
I hope you are in good health. My prayers for you and your family, regards, Batool
.

Women's College of Aligarh Muslim University

Dear Dr. Afzal, Thank you so much for this inspiring article. As a Great-granddaughter of this amazing couple Papa Mian and Ala-Bi ( my late grand-mother was their daughter Khurshid Jahan, the only one of their children who migrated to Pakistan in 1947. Known as Begum Khurshid Mirza); I was moved to tears reading about our family history. I am sharing this historical perspective with my children and also feeling heart broken at the state of affairs of Women's education in Pakistan.

As a Psychiatrist living and working in Boston, MA on the Harvard Medical School faculty; I believe the solution to the extremism and radicalization we are dealing with can only be "neutralized" by improving the mental health of the masses and providing education.

I'll be waiting anxiously to read your completed work. Regards, Batool Kazim,MD

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