Fatima Begum

فاطمہ بیگم
Lahore, Punjab
1890-1958

Fatima Begam was born to a highly influential, literary family in Lahore in 1890 – her father was Munshi Mahbub Alam, publisher and editor of the famous newspaper, the Paisa Akhbar. Enabled by her class status, Fatima Begam moved uncompromisingly through the public and political sphere, and was a well known activist for the Pakistan Movement. She focused primarily on rallying women for the cause as well as aiding victims of violence. After earning college degrees in both English and Persian, Fatima Begam took on the position of editor of her father’s widely circulated magazine, Sharif Bibi (The Respectable Lady). This was a groundbreaking position for a woman to hold at the time, and Fatima Begam held the position until 1919. After her husband’s passing, Fatima Begam moved to Bombay to focus on her career. There, she founded her own magazine: Khatun (Woman); the magazine consisted of writings on religious, social, educational, and literary matters. Fatima Begam was also active in a plethora of social and political organizations, including the Anjuman-i-Khawatin-i-Islam (Society of Ladies of Islam), the All India Women’s Conference, and the All-India Muslim League. In 1937, she returned from Bombay to Lahore to engage in public protest and direct action, and was one of the few women infamously imprisoned and tear-gassed for her activism against communal riots. Leading up to and after partition, she continued working with her communities, namely to rehabilitate newly created refugees, and to advocate for women’s rights in the new nations. She continued to be deeply involved in this work until her passing in 1958.

Biography by Sharmain Siddiqui

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Further Reading

Fatima Begam. Hajj-e Baitullah o Safar-e Diyar-e Habib (A pilgrimage to the house of God and a journey to the beloved countries). Lahore: Kitabkhana-e Paisa Akhbar, 1959.

Minault, Gail. Secluded Scholars: Women’s Education and Muslim Social Reform in Colonial India. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Mirza, Sarfaraz Hussain. Muslim Women’s Role in the Pakistan Movement. Lahore: Research Society of Pakistan, 1969.

Shahnawaz, Jahan Ara. Father and Daughter: A Political Autobiography. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002.