First Tatar female mathematician: prophet’s descendant

Sayyidah Sara Shakulova — the first Tatar female mathematician, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad — turned 135 years this year. A Sorbonne graduate was one of the first Tatar women to get a higher education in Russia before the revolution and literally repeated Sofia Kovalyovskaya’s journey. Senior researcher of the Department of Written Sources of the Tatarstan National Museum Ramziya Abzallina talks about the life of Sayyidah Sara Shakulova in detail in the Marjani Institute’s popular science channel Tatar World.

Prophet’s descendant

A girl — Sayyidah Sara Shakulova — was born to a family of honourable citizen Kasimkhan Khusainovich and his wife Fatyma Aynutdinovna in Kasimov, Ryazan Oblast, on 27 July 135 years ago. She is remembered as Sayyidah — a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) — and one of the first Tatar women who got a higher education in pre-revolution Russia. The materials about the life and educational activity of S. Shakulova (she worked as a math teacher until 75 years) are kept in the collection of the Tatarstan National Museum. Researcher of the Soviet Era Department S. Tuisheva brought them to the museum from Moscow in 1978.

The museum collection stores a passport of Sayyidah Sara Kasimovna Shakulova — a daughter of the “descendant of the Honourable Citizen, the girl is 18 years old, Muslim” — issued by the Kasimov Regional Police Office 31/HP-1905. The document was issued according to an application of the father, Hereditary Citizen Sayyid Kasim Girey Shakulov about the absence of obstacles to issuing her a passport.

The last registration of Sara’s place of residence in this passport was on 30 August 1907 in Petersburg when she was taking Lesgaft courses. It is surprising how functionaries accurately registered the noble origin of their city’s citizens in passports. The name of Sara’s father in the passport is Kasim Girey. Though according to their acquaintances’ memories, in the family tree and in the book of G. Qursawi Haftiyak Sharif Tefsiri on the list as of 1825 stored in the Department of Rare Manuscripts and Books of Kazan Federal (Volga Region) University’s Lobachevsky Scientific Library, he is Kasimkhan.

Doctor of Philological Sciences M. Akhmetzyanov studied the Shakulovs’ family tree and published it in the book Towards Eternity. Sayyid Qul Sharif printed in Kazan in 2006. In three sources stored in Miraskhane, Sayyid Kasimkhan, S. Shakulova’s father, is considered the 43rd generation with his brothers Sayyid Kotlymet, Sayyid Borkhan and Sayyid Ibrakhim.

First female Tatar to graduate from Sorbonne University

At that time, higher educational institutions for women in Russia were closed. Understanding that courses and secondary school that opened with public money wouldn’t give her the right to teach, in 1909 Sara went abroad and entered the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics and graduated from it in 1913. Besides the diploma in mechanics and mathematics issued on 19 March 1913 by the minister of education of the French Republic, Sara brought a certificate of higher education by the Paris faculty, a certificate of higher education issued by the examination commission in the Faculty of Experimental Physics of the Paris University, a certificate on higher education issued by the examination commission of the Paris Faculty of Mathematical Sciences on passing exams in rational mechanics cum laude from Paris to Russia.

After returning to her homeland, like other women who studied abroad had to confirm higher education — to obtain a diploma of the Moscow University in mathematical sciences. In 1914 after successfully passing exams, S. Shakulova was awarded a second-degree diploma. Among the documents, there survived a message of the Department of Popular Education to S. Shakulova about confirming her title of secondary school math teacher as of 12 January 1917.

To be continued.

Photos of exhibits No. 17196, 17216 from S. Shakulova’s collection in the Tatarstan National Museum have been in the publication.

Ramziya Abzalina, senior researcher of the Department of Written Sources of the Tatarstan National Museum

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