Fatima Sheikh is avowed as the first Muslim teacher in India who contributed her knowledge in teaching the Dalit children at a school by Savitri bai and Jyotiba Phule. Some heroes are lost in the pages of history and yet not many know about the injustice she fought against the elite. In the mid 19th century, Savitri Bai Phoole along with her partner Jyotiba Phoole fought against caste discrimination and encouraged the Dalits in empowering themselves via education.
However, this did not favor the upper caste norms and they were highly discouraged for their step to start a movement of “Beti Padhao”. The Phule couple were given the choice of choosing their work or home and subsequently without compunction they chose to empower the Dalit society. Later, Fatima and her brother Usman offered refuge to the Phoole couple and invigorated them to start working on their ambition. At the sheik’s Fatima helped Savitribai Phule in setting up a school named “Indigenous Library” in her house. Fatima not only had to fight with the prejudices and stigmas of the society but also had to face the repugnance of orthodox Muslims. However, Fatima was blessed with her brother Usman who not only encouraged her to seek knowledge but also spread within the population. Both Savitri Bai and Fatima went to professionals to seek knowledge and spread over their pupils. They also encouraged parents of every household to empower their children via education. Fatima successfully dedicated her career and spread knowledge in all 5 schools the Phule couple established and continued until Savitri bai was afflicted by an illness that leads the couple to move back to their mother’s house. Not any information was published after 1856.
During the era of empowering the Dalit Fatima and Savitri bai Phoole had to face many traumatizing experiences like throwing stones and cow dungs over them by the upper caste people. But this never led them to move backward in the path of their ambition. Fatima was that hero whose contribution was lost in the pages of history. However, her birth anniversary is celebrated on 9th January in social forums. Even though history did not favor her work but she remains to rule every heart of every disciple. Fatima played a pivotal role in encouraging every household despite their caste and religion to empower themselves via education.
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Contributed by Ashima, Content Writer at Mitti Ke Rang.
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