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Misbah: Lighting the path to learn and inspire

VENITA GOMES

Sanskrit is one of India’s ancient languages and a lot of historic inscriptions and writings are found in it. However, when an otherwise Urdu or Arabic speaking student tops in a language like Sanskrit, it definitely sparks an interest.

In Arabic Misbah means lamp or light. And through her academic achievement she has become an inspiration and is showing the light to people across faiths. She’s not only lighting up her own life, but is an example to many who wish to learn something new, take on challenges or break stereotypes.

Always having a knack for languages, Misbah Shaikh who has studied Sanskrit for two years helped her gain in-depth knowledge and an understanding about Hinduism and mythology. She says: “From the very beginning I had a liking for languages, I already knew and had studied English, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, and Urdu and therefore, decided to take up Sanskrit. I opted for Sanskrit as it is said to be the mother of all languages.”

She gives credit to her professor Mahabal Bhatt who explained the importance of learning Sanskrit and helped her develop the interest. She says: “I got to learn about epics and poems like the Mahabharata and Ramayana which were written in Sanskrit. It provided me with in-depth knowledge about the Hindu culture. The language has its own beauty and there are a lot of positive sayings about life through the poems and moral stories.”

Misbah finds the language fascinating and tells us that there are interesting words which sound similar to those in Konkani and Hindi. She tells us that she didn’t want to study Urdu, which is her mother tongue. A lot of religious scriptures are either in Urdu or Arabic that is taught to her at home.

Misbah has fared exceptionally well in other subjects too, scoring 99/100 in economics, history and sociology. Her parents Usman and Shahida haven’t left anything undone to propel their daughter’s academic aspirations. In fact, Misbah tells us that the two of them have been her inspiration and motivation.

The young girl who is set to study law before beginning her preparations to become an IAS officer tells us that her parents and family believe that education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world. “They believe that by educating us they will see a change in today’s society, a change for betterment,” she says.

Telling us that the credit for scoring exceptional marks in the HSSC exams shouldn’t only be hers, she says besides her hard work, her parents and family have put in a lot of effort too. “My mother would wake up to prepare something when I was hungry in the night and my father would file my projects and assignments as and when required,” says Misbah.

While her father completed HSSC and her mother studied till standard 10, Misbah reveals that their family is quite open-minded and forward thinking, and this ideology is shared among extended family members.

As cliché as it is, Misbah and her family have broken stereotypes and taboo that still exist within the community when it comes to girls not being treated or given as much freedom as their male counterparts. Misbah who terms the above as misconceptions, goes on to say: “Islam teaches equality for both, boys and girls, whether it has to do with studies or taking up a profession or any other field.”

Talking about the environment she was brought up in, she says that her family is liberal and her views and opinions matter. “I have been brought up in very liberal manner keeping in mind core family/religious values. I have never been in a situation where I have had to provide explanations,” she says. Misbah tells us that most girls in her family and a community are well educated, pursuing higher education, or are doing well professionally. And thus there isn’t any reason to change people’s mindsets,” she explains.

Busting myths and misconceptions associated with Islam, Misbah says: “Islam is not gender biased. It teaches us equality in every field of life, alongside giving importance to religious beliefs and ideologies. Islam also encourages us to excel in each and every sphere of life for the betterment of humanity.”

Misbah who is an inspiration to several girls says that this achievement does not end here, and is all set to raise the bar in every field she steps into, with an aim of helping and serving people.

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