Nazr Sajjad Hyder (1892-1967) was born ‘Nazr Zehra’ in 1892 in an elite Shia family and raised in the town of Sialkot, Punjab. Educated at home, she started contributing to Urdu women’s journals, particularly Tahzib-e Niswan (Lahore) and Ismat (Delhi), from an early age. Within the pages of these magazines, she advocated women’s education under the pseudonym of Bint Nazr-ul Baqar (Daughter of Nazr-ul Baqar) in acknowledgement of her father Sayyid Muhammad Nazr-ul Baqar who worked in the military. Her mother Mustafai Begum died in 1908 leaving Nazr Zehra and her two younger siblings, Sarvat Ara and Mustafa Baqar, in the care of their aunt, Murtazai Begum. Nazr S. Hyder was encouraged by her father to read and write, and her family was not alien to the cause of women’s education. They were closely acquainted with Sayyid Mumaz Ali, editor of Tahzib-e Niswan, and Nazr’s paternal aunt, Akbari Begum (d. 1929), had also emphasized women’s education in her novel, Godar ka Lal (The Ruby in Rags), published in 1907 under the pseudonym of Walida-e Afzal Ali (Mother of Afzal Ali). In 1909, Sayyid Mumtaz Ali started Phool, a journal for children, and Nazr Zehra was appointed to be its editor. In 1912, Bint Nazr-ul Baqar became Nazr Sajjad Hyder following her marriage to Sajjad Hyder ‘Yildirum’ (1880-1943). Sajjad Hyder was educated at Aligarh College and was a supporter of Sayyid Ahmed Khan and the ideas associated with the Aligarh movement. He was employed in the colonial government and wrote frequently in the Urdu literary magazines, Ma’aruf and Maghzan.
Nazr S. Hyder wrote several novels in her life, including Akhtar-unnissa Begum, Ah-e Mazluman, Jaanbaz, Surayya, Najma and Mazhab aur Ishq. Her diary and memoir were serialized over a period of twenty-one years from 1942 to 1963 in Tahzib-e Niswan and Ismat. In 2007, several entries of Nazr S. Hyder’s Tahzib-e Niswan diary and Ismat memoir were collected together and edited by her daughter Qurratulain Hyder into a volume titled Guzashta Barson ki Baraf (The Snows of Past Years). The abstracts included here are taken from this later source. These abstracts give an account of her marriage and her efforts at starting a school for Muslim girls in the town of Dehradun, currently located in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Extracts reproduced in translation by the kind permission of the Qurratulain Hyder Charitable Trust.
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EXTRACT ONE 26 May 1912: Today was the most important day of life. When I woke up in the morning to offer my prayers, I saw a different atmosphere in the house. My elder female relatives were busy in arrangements for hosting someone. Everyone in the house including its younger as well as elder members …