Some archaic manuscripts dating back to the thirteenth century have acquainted us with the name of Razziya al-din, popularly known throughout the history as Razia Sultan, the only female ruler of both the Sultanate and the Mughal period. In defiance of the customary norms, Razia spurned the usage of the title “Sultana”, meaning the wife or mistress of the Sultan, and instead, and quite magnificently if one tries to imagine, answered only to the title of “Sultan”. Nearly eight centuries later, another Razia Sultan has answered to a custom in defiance.
Born in the Nanglakhumba Village of Meerut District, Uttar Pradesh, a coy and dainty Razia Sultan has received the first United Nations Malala Award for educating child labourers. She will also be commended as the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award for Education. The silent revolutionary odyssey began when Razia was rescued by a non-governmental organization from the job of stitching footballs in decrepit tenements in her village, a job she had been doing since the age of four like many other girls. Subsequently, in a heralding development, Razia attended school and became the chieftain to the cause of other child labourers, having rescued 48 children till now. Eventually, Razia expanded her frontiers and voiced the need for child education outside her district and even other countries like Nepal, prudently backed by the non-governmental organization all the way.
While on one hand there is a world where people know the counterproductive trivia about Jabulani football except the cryptic information as to how or where it is made, on the other hand there’s a world where people do not know anything but ‘that’ cryptic information. For instance, Razia Sultan’s father not at all wary of the importance of the honour conferred on his daughter by the United Nations, was quoted as saying, “We didn’t even know that this award is of great importance. Now, we are feeling very proud of her. I cannot express my happiness in words.”
Elated as Razia is, she is not keen to be swept by the mesmerising adulation and considers the honour as a step closer towards her real goal to spread child education because for all she knows, stitching footballs was never her calling in life. And for all we know, though we have no means to affirm it, Razziya al-din would have taken pride in the magnitude of justice done to her name.
(Also see: Malala Yousafzai: The Voice of Change)