A remarkable lady
An impressive figure in the socio-cultural field of the Indian sub-continent during the early half of the 20th century Atiya Fyzee went on a scholarship to attend teachers training college in London in 1906.
Unable to finish her course because of ill health, Atiya's travelogue, Zamana-i-Tahsil, was serialised in Tahzib-un-Niswan and in 1921, published as a book. Atiya's Journey not only contains an English translation of Zamana-i-Tahsil, under the title 'A Time of Education,' but also a biography that provides the context to the travelogue as well as a wealth of other information about Atiya, her pioneering family, and her cosmopolitan marriage to artist Samuel Rahamin (a man who adopts her name as his own).
Her dazzling personality and glimpses of the new horizons marriage opened out for her — the exhibitions she organised in the United States, her speeches on women's rights, her book on Indian music, and the dances she choreographed. Atiya visited France, Italy, Germany, China, Japan and many other foreign countries. She compiled a book on music that was published from London. Allama Iqbal and Shibli N'umani were among her admirers.
Atiya migrated to Pakistan in 1947 at the invitation of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In their old age, a petty bureaucrat expelled Atiya and her husband from their Karachi home, Aiwan-i-Rafat. They died in penury and little has been done to honour their memory since.
Atiya Fyzee was born at Istanbul, and hailed from a respectable family of Bombay. She was among the first Indian Muslims to give up the purdah and participate in public life. Educated at a convent school in Pune, Atiya started contributing to family notebooks, both in English and in Urdu, from a young age. She is the author of 'Sangeet of India' and 'Indian Music'.
Atiya's Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain, a biography by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley and Sunil Sharma: Oxford University Press, New Delhi: ISBN 0-19-8-6833-6, is available for further studies.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin