Saarah-Hameed-Ahmed-India-s-only-Muslim-woman-pilot
Saarah-Hameed-Ahmed-India-s-only-Muslim-woman-pilot

India’s only woman Muslim pilot has a message to share

“People initially think I’m Christian and then gawk when I tell them my full name,” laughs Saarah Hameed Ahmed (25) the Bengaluru girl who is the only known Muslim among the 600-odd women pilots employed in the Indian aviation sector. “I just love the look on people’s faces when they discover I am Muslim.”
By Sudipto Mondal | Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2015 08:51 AM IST

“People initially think I’m Christian and then gawk when I tell them my full name,” laughs Saarah Hameed Ahmed (25) the Bengaluru girl who is the only known Muslim among the 600-odd women pilots employed in the Indian aviation sector. “I just love the look on people’s faces when they discover I am Muslim.”

People’s reaction to her choice of profession is a constant source of entertainment for Saarah. Many want to know how a girl can handle a machine that’s many times her size, she says as she cracks up again. “Poor things; they don’t know that my fingers are all I need to fly,” she says twiddling her thumbs.

Of course, the reactions are not always amusing or sensitive. Saarah says she too has had to face the brunt of Islamophobia that gripped the world post 9/11. But each time she has managed to win people over with a combination of humour and tact, she says.

However, Saarah’s first battles were fought at home and within the community. She says that she still faces taunts from people who believe a girl’s only job is to get married and produce children.

“Initially none of us encouraged her. In our community girls don’t usually take up professions where they have to stay away from home and live in hotels without an escort,” confesses her father Hameed Hussain Ahmed, a professional photographer. When Saarah showed no signs of relenting, he spoke to his friend Atif Fareed, who is a senior pilot in the US.

“Fareed told me that I should consider myself lucky because most Muslim girls don’t even dream of flying. If he hadn’t convinced me, I might have made the blunder of killing Saarah’s dreams,” he says.

In 2007, when she was just 18, Saarah enrolled with a flying school in the US. “Those days most Muslim students were being denied US Visas. When she got the Visa without any trouble I saw it as a final message from God,” says the deeply religious Ahmed.

Saarah’s mother, Naseema Ahmed, says she never had any doubts about sending her to the US. Her proudest moment, she says, was when a group of Muslim girls surrounded Saarah at a wedding and started asking her for tips to become a pilot.

Saarah has other dreams too. “I really want to get married and have children,” she says. But finding the right man is proving to be tough. “I don’t understand people who just look at my photo and want to get their sons married to me. Don’t they want to know what I have studied or where I work?”

Many of her suitors have either wanted her to quit her job or move cities. “My father has shooed away people asking them to get their sons to quit his job and move cities,” Saarah says letting out another blast of laughter.

She also has a Women’s Day message for Muslim girls like herself: “Don’t fret over what the community thinks of you. And don’t let them kill your dreams.” And what is she planning on women’s day? “Fly, of course! My airline [Spicejet] is very keen that I fly on Women’s Day.”

Waiting in the wings

Ayesha Aziz, 18, is another aspiring pilot. A native of Baramulla, Kashmir, she has already obtained a basic flying licence.

Fatima Salva Syeda, 26, is a licenced commercial pilot. But she has to qualify additional training before she can be a professional pilot.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Unlike his father who is mostly confined to running the government from Pragati Bhavan, KTR has been extensively touring districts to inspect the implementation of government schemes and holding official meetings.(HT PHOTO.)
Unlike his father who is mostly confined to running the government from Pragati Bhavan, KTR has been extensively touring districts to inspect the implementation of government schemes and holding official meetings.(HT PHOTO.)

‘KTR for CM’ chorus grows in TRS amid rumours that he may replace his father

By Srinivasa Rao Apparasu | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:17 PM IST
  • “Advance congratulations” have been pouring in for KTR, as the chief minister’s son is popularly known, from various quarters of the party including ministers, MLAs and senior leaders.
Close
The legendary bhajan singer passed away at 12.15pm on Friday at Apollo Hospital in Delhi.(File photo)
The legendary bhajan singer passed away at 12.15pm on Friday at Apollo Hospital in Delhi.(File photo)

'Made a name for himself in bhajan singing': PM's tribute to Narendra Chanchal

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:14 PM IST
Tributes poured in after the demise of the singer as several ministers took to social media to pay their condolences.
Close
So deep is the divide within the state BJP that Yediyurappa now faces opposition not just from his earlier detractors but those who were once seen to be close to the Lingayat leader.(ANI)
So deep is the divide within the state BJP that Yediyurappa now faces opposition not just from his earlier detractors but those who were once seen to be close to the Lingayat leader.(ANI)

News updates from HT: Karnataka CM makes changes in Cabinet to contain dissent

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:02 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Meghalaya: 6 workers die at mining site in East Jaintia Hills

By David Laitphlang
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 04:43 PM IST
Five of the six deceased have been identified and their respective families have been informed to claim the bodies
Close
At present, the Centre is vaccinating healthcare workers across the country.(HT_PRINT)
At present, the Centre is vaccinating healthcare workers across the country.(HT_PRINT)

Fraudsters calling up senior citizens for Covid-19 vaccines, alerts Centre

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:16 PM IST
Though the Centre has not yet revealed when the vaccination of senior citizens will begin or what the price for each dose will be for the senior citizens, the health department has made it clear that there will be no third-party registration.
Close
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference on farmers' agitation against Centre's farm reform laws, at party HQ in New Delhi, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)(PTI)
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference on farmers' agitation against Centre's farm reform laws, at party HQ in New Delhi, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)(PTI)

Elected Congress president by June 2021, announces KC Venugopal

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Karan Manral
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 04:18 PM IST
Rahul Gandhi, the last full-time party chief, resigned in July 2019 after the party's second successive Lok Sabha election loss.
Close
Representational photo. (HT Archive)
Representational photo. (HT Archive)

Strategically important Ujh hydroelectric project in J&K gets forest panel nod

By Jayashree Nandi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 04:09 PM IST
The project will involve the loss of about 680ha of forest land and over 200,000 trees according to project documents on environment ministry’s Parivesh website
Close
The tool will capture the nature and source of emissions in the NCR for interventions to control them. (HT archive)
The tool will capture the nature and source of emissions in the NCR for interventions to control them. (HT archive)

Air Quality panel tasks agencies to develop tool for targeted pollution control

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 04:04 PM IST
The interventions suggested by the tool can be implemented by the pollution control boards and its implementation can be monitored by citizen watch groups and NGOs
Close
Congress President Sonia Gandhi blamed the ruling BJP for its handling of the pandemic. “The government has inflicted untold suffering on the people of our country by the manner in which it has managed the Covid-19 pandemic."(Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)
Congress President Sonia Gandhi blamed the ruling BJP for its handling of the pandemic. “The government has inflicted untold suffering on the people of our country by the manner in which it has managed the Covid-19 pandemic."(Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

'To boost PM Modi's image': Congress picks holes in govt's Covid-19 vaccine plan

Written by Arpan Rai
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:57 PM IST
Noting the rise in hesitancy for Covid-19 vaccine, the committee also slammed the government for allowing blatant politicisation of the regulatory process to clear the vaccine for use in order to boost the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Close
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was held on Friday.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was held on Friday.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

'Dismissing angst of millions of farmers': CWC passes resolution on farm laws

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:58 PM IST
Passed in the CWC meeting on Friday, the resolution noted that the laws did not pass the test of Parliamentary scrutiny as they were "bulldozed by muzzling the voice of the opposition".
Close
Kerala HC has also asked for a regular update on the probe into the case.(HT Photo)
Kerala HC has also asked for a regular update on the probe into the case.(HT Photo)

Kerala mother accused of son's sexual abuse gets bail, court orders SIT probe

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Thiruvananthapuram
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:31 PM IST
  • The case has got wide publicity as it is the first time that a mother was arrested under Pocso charges in Kerala, that too, for exploiting her own child.
Close
Sonia Gandhi at a Congress Working Committee ( CWC ) meeting(Sonu Mehta/HT FILE PHOTO)
Sonia Gandhi at a Congress Working Committee ( CWC ) meeting(Sonu Mehta/HT FILE PHOTO)

'National security compromised': CWC on Arnab Goswami's leaked chats

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:25 PM IST
  • The CWC further said that the silence underlined the government's collusion, complicity and guilt.
Close
Vijayabhaskar said that he took the jab as a doctor and as a member of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to instill faith in health workers regarding the vaccine.(ANI)
Vijayabhaskar said that he took the jab as a doctor and as a member of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to instill faith in health workers regarding the vaccine.(ANI)

Tamil Nadu health minister gets Covid-19 vaccine, opts for Covaxin

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:51 PM IST
He urged everyone to take the vaccine to safeguard themselves from the deadly virus that has taken the lives of more than 150,000 people in India.
Close
BSF said the Pakistani rangers confirmed that the youth had been detained after crossing over. (Siddharaj Solanki/ Hindustan Times File Photo)
BSF said the Pakistani rangers confirmed that the youth had been detained after crossing over. (Siddharaj Solanki/ Hindustan Times File Photo)

Caught entering girlfriend’s home, shamed Rajasthan youth flees to Pakistan

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Barmer
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:00 PM IST
  • n the missing complaint, family members expressed apprehension that the boy might have crossed to Pakistan since the family lived very close to the Indo-Pak international border and they had relatives in Pabni village in Pakistan.
Close
In a letter to RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, Thackeray claimed that several banks were not following the Centre's guidelines of observing leniency.(HT file photo)
In a letter to RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, Thackeray claimed that several banks were not following the Centre's guidelines of observing leniency.(HT file photo)

MNS urges RBI to set up panel to resolve transporters' woes

PTI, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 02:55 PM IST
Thackeray further claimed that some financiers had issued notices for recovery and were charging 2,000 per notice as fine.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP