Home Award The incredible journey of Rafiq Ibrahim from tea seller to assistant professor

The incredible journey of Rafiq Ibrahim from tea seller to assistant professor

The incredible journey of Rafiq Ibrahim from tea seller to assistant professor

Rafiq Ibrahim is an assistant professor of Malayalam at the Kannur University. Tea at a bus stop and vehicle cleaning were two ways he made money in the past. Reading an article by Sunil P Ilayidom on the bus led to his doctorate in political science.

Key Highlight:

  • Rafiq Ibrahim is an assistant professor of Malayalam at the Kannur University.
  • Reading an article by Sunil P Ilayidom on the bus led to his doctorate in political science.
  • He supported his family by selling tea at the Nilambur bus terminal in Malappuram district after clearing the Class 10 exam in 2001.
  • The shop was closed throughout the day, so he made money by cleaning cars.
  • He returned to Wayanad a few years later to work as a salesperson in a shoe store.

In Wayanad, he was born to a poor family. He supported his family by selling tea at the Nilambur bus terminal in Malappuram district after clearing the Class 10 exam in 2001. The shop was closed throughout the day, so he made money by cleaning cars. He returned to Wayanad a few years later to work as a salesperson in a shoe store.

Even though he worked long hours, he read whenever he had free time. To satisfy his thirst for knowledge, he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and finally, a doctorate.

An assistant professorship in Malayalam was added to his impressive resume on November 6, when he joined Kannur University.

An emotional post on Facebook on that day by Rafiq Ibrahim, 35, recounted his days selling tea: “I could see me wandering the streets filled with sandalwood agarbatti factories and lathe machines,” he wrote. “I could see me shouting out loud, “Tea Bekka” (do you want tea) and beg customers to pay money.”

In his quest for knowledge, Rafiq is driven by an unquenchable thirst for reading material. Friendship also played a significant impact in his success. Because of the insistence of his peers, he enrolled in the Economics undergraduate program. When he was at Kalpetta, he read the most books from the district library, according to him.

Sunil P. Ilayidom, an academic and orator who taught Malayalam at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kalady, Kerala, wrote an article on “politics of identity and class” in a renowned Malayalam magazine that he happened to read while on a bus ride. It profoundly affected him that he chose to pursue higher education in Malayalam, and Ilayidom became his inspiration and mentor.

The Malayalam department, where Ilayidom taught, eventually accepted him for post-graduate studies. In this way, he was able to get new insight into his studies. Under Ilayidom’s tutelage, he first earned an MPhil and, later, a Ph.D. in ‘literary forms and cultural history.’

Rafiq now adds that he owes this success to his friends and a host of other excellent people. This would not have been possible without their help, he claims.

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