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Bibi Theke Begum

An Account of the Evolution of Bangali Muslim Women
(From The Opening Years of 20th Century Till Date)

Summary of From Bibi* to Begum**

From Bibi to Begum is the study of the development of the Bangali Muslim women as reflected in the novels by the Muslim novelists during the period 1920-1997. The Book is written in Bangali, and consists of two parts and twenty-two chapters. The first part looks into the attitude of the newly educated male members of the Bangali Muslim society towards women. This new class of young men emerged in the Bangali Muslim society in the first half of the 20th century; they were ‘different’ and ‘new’, because they learnt a little English, while the majority of the Muslims were uneducated.

While the Bangali Hindus began to acquire English education in the first half of the 19th century, the Bangali Muslims kept themselves aloof from English education. In that Muslim society there were many groups of Mullahs (Muslim Priests) who played an important role in the society. They gave ‘fatwa’s (injunctions) that English education was not for the Muslims. As a result of that, the Bangali Muslims remained uneducated, backward, and poor.

In spite of those ‘fatwa’s, a group of Bangali Muslims managed to get English education, and so they needed a new kind of wives. The ‘Bibi’s were uneducated wives; the new wives became ‘Begum’s-a little educated and modern. This study shows that those new wives became new only in appearance, but in their inner world they remained ‘Bibi’s. Education didn’t change them, nor liberate them-they were still confined in traditional bondage.

* Bibi - kinds of Wives Made by Backward Women
** Begum - Kinds of Wives Made by Women Having Literacy and Little Education