The success of the twin daughters of the Imam of a mosque in rural Kashmir in the Medical College Entrance Examination – NEET – has proved that neither hijab nor Madrasa education can hamper one’s march on the path of education. Both the girls cleared the NEET( National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) on their first attempt.
Syed Tabia and Syed Bisma, are the daughters of Syed Sajad, an imam in Watto village of Kulgam district in South Kashmir. The family lives in Hujra, a small quarter allotted to their father inside the premises of the mosque.
Syed Sajad is a typical Imam who can be seen in any mosque all over India. He has little means of livelihood, largely religiously educated, with feeble knowledge of English or modern education. However, he managed to discipline his daughters to study well.
Syed Sajad turned emotional when Awaz-the Voice contacted him. He said that Allah has listened to his prayers and that he will advise his daughters to serve the weakest of society after completing their medical education.
Syed’s village Watto is located in a remote area in Kulgam where even uninterrupted internet is a luxury. These days use of the internet for education and especially cracking competitive examinations like the NEET is a must.
Sajad said he was determined to provide the best educational guidance to his daughters. He contacted everyone, he thought, would give useful advice to his daughters to set their targets and then advance toward this.
“I would collect written notes, information about various coaching centers, etc so that my daughters will always be inspired to study more,” said Sajad.
He said that once Tabia and Bisma were free from their 12th exams, someone helped them get admission to a reputed MissionE coaching center in Srinagar.
Bisma said that students like her and her sister need proper guidance and motivation more than anything else. “We were looking for it and our father helped us in every possible way. Once he took us to MissionE Coaching, it was the best thing that could happen to us. Everyone there treated us in a very friendly way. All teachers tried to make us believe that we are immensely talented and could easily make it through any exam,” said an elated Bisma.
Her sister Tabia said that it was unimaginable for both of them that they would one day get admission in a course to become doctors. “But our parents provided us all we needed from their meager resources. They never let us feel deprived,” said Tabia.
Tabia added that students like them are strugglers and they hard work is the only mantra of their lives. “ We have to manage our resources and squeeze the best result out of them. More importantly, we have to always keep ourselves on a motivational track,” she said.
On the question of their father being imam, wearing hijab, and being educated in deeni-taleem, the sisters said that they never felt that any of these were an obstacle. “Rather, our Islamic upbringing makes us more disciplined and focused in life,” they said proudly.
As soon as the news of the Syed sisters broke out, the whole Valley erupted in exultation and the media lined up at their door to interview them.
One online portal wrote about their success: “The success of these twin sisters serves as an inspiration to countless students across the region, demonstrating that with dedication, hard work, and proper guidance, anyone can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. Their accomplishments deserve recognition and praise, and they stand as a testament to the potential that lies within the youth of Kashmir.”