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Biographical Data :

Name :Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan
Period :1914 - 1944
Biographical detail : Hers is a remarkable chapter in the history of Muslims in Britain.

Noor-un-Nisa was the daughter of an Indian sufi shaikh, poet and musician, Pir Inayat Khan (1882 – 1927) and the great-great-great granddaughter of Tippu Sultan, the legendary ‘Tigore of Mysore’. Her mother was a Scottish-Irish stock, who married Pir Inayat Khan in New Mexico, USA.

Noor had a privileged childhood in Paris, studying music for six years at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, and subsequently child psychology at the Sorbonne. On the eve of France’s capitulation to Germany in 1940, she and her brother Velayat escaped to Britain. Both volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force. Noor enrolled in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) where her quite intelligence and linguistic abilities were soon spotted and she was given a commission in the SOE – Special Operations Executive.

In June 1943, Noor – code name ‘Madeline’ – was parachuted into French occupied territory to serve as a radio operator to a group in the Paris area. Within a few days of her arrival, almost all members of the group were arrested. Overnight ‘post-Madeline’ became the most important in France, being almost the only radio link between France and England. For four months she carried out this extremely dangerous work, assisting both English and French resistance groups. For reasons unknown, her direct chiefs in England refused to evacuate her back.

The Gestapo captured her, and after an attempted escape, she was sent to Germany in chains. Meanwhile the Germans continued to use her radio set and trapped other agents. She was shot, with three other British female agents, in Dachau on September 11, 1944.

Britain’s first memorial of an Asian woman, a statue of Noor Inayat Khan, a pioneer in so many things, was placed in London’s Gordon Square in her honour in 2012.

Her posthumous awards include the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star. Her bother Vilayat survived the war and emerged as a leading sitar player and sufi shaikh.

Source: Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan by Jean Overton Fuller, East-West Publications, 1988
 (Compiler : M. A. Sherif)


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