Sheema Zehra: Wearing white and green Hijab girls at Jamia Islamia Mahdul read the verses of Quran all enthusiastic to spend 40 days of winter in learning the teachings of Islam and rights Islam provides to women. “Baitu ko baitiyun par tarjih na dain” was printed over the wall in the office of Dr. Mubeena Ramzan, the chairperson of Jamia Islamia Mahdul.

Photo courtesy : Mubashir Hassan

Twenty years back when women in Kashmir were not considered worthy of running any institution, Mubeena Ramzan became the chairperson of Jamia Islamia Mahdul to educate girls and provide support to needy. “I completed my research and decided to contribute to society but people didn’t want me to and provided the options of a better carrier for which I refused. No one expected me in this field”, recalls Mubeena who is the first Kashmiri woman and second Kashmiri after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to be enlisted among the 500 most influential personalities in the Muslim world released by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought.

Jamia Islamia Mahdul emerged twenty years back in Sopore when Mubeena dared to sell a gold ring to collect money for her first project. Eventually they bought land in Sopore and constructed a well built building to accommodate the girls. “We started the institute here in Srinagar 8 years back but we are still renting the building”, says Mubeena while revealing the need of more women to join the organization which is run by the women only. Currently the organization has three branches and many part time Madrasahs in the city and villages affiliated to it.

The organization got successful to launch a sister organization Ansar-Un-Nisa. “Jamia Islamia Mahdul provides education to girls and Ansar-Un-Nisa aims at helping the women in need”, says Mubeena. “Currently we have 80 girls in each boarding (Sopore and Srinagar), all below 17 and by the grace of Almighty we are able to provide them both education, Islamic and worldly”, smiles Munbeena under her black Niqab (face veil).

Sitting in the office with Dr Muneeba Ramzan, the principal of Jamia Islamia Mahdul, Nazima provides details of  how they coach girls with proper education of Islam in addition to science, mathematics and English. “We not only teach them but endorse them to participate in extracurricular activities. We organize quizzes and debates to groom the kids to be able to convey their voice”, says Nazima. The institute also provides the training for cutting and designing to girls.

The students along with their teachers visit villages and towns to disseminate Islamic teachings to women, talk about the rights of women in Islam and to help deprived. “There are many scholars who shut their doors at individuals who require counseling; we thrive to counsel women who have no one to talk”, says Dr Mubeena.

Photo courtesy :Mubashir Hassan

Recalling the incidents where a woman called her at 12 in night for help in the wake of the arguments with in-laws Dr Muneeba says that she is elated to help. “Once a girl required money for medicines and she came to us moaning for her father who used to drink. I was devastated and heartbroken”, sighs Dr Mubeena while grieving about how at times even the mothers of girls require aid and assistance.

Saddened about the status of women in the world today Dr Mubeena aims at reviving the repute of women in the society with better education. “We are getting adequate response but want to work more to meet our dreams; a lot is yet to come and I want appreciably more women to join us and the cause. Women have to come forward to elevate their status and to eradicate social evils”, inquires Dr Mubeena, thriving to make a change.