For students: We hope this guide sharpens your reading skills and deepens your understanding.
For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without further permission from AramcoWorld, by teachers at any level.
Common Core Standards met in this lesson: RI.9-10.1, W.9-10.4 (see details below).

—The Editors
 
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—Julie Weiss

"Malika V: Nur Jahan": What Makes a Leader?


“Malika V: Nur Jahan" describes the life of a leader from the 1500s and 1600s. These activities help explore what it was that made her a good leader. By the time you finish them, you should be able to:

•Create a graphic organizer with information about Nur Jahan.
•Infer from someone's actions what character traits are possessed.
•Decide which actions and character traits were most important to Nur Jahan's role as a leader with justified evaluations.
•Answer the question: "What made Nur Jahan worthy to be a queen?

All Things to All People 

Read "Malika V: Nur Jahan" once through to get a big-picture sense of her. Then go back and re-read the article, completing the activities as you go. At the beginning of the article, writer Tom Verde lists numerous roles that Nur Jahan filled during her lifetime. Working with a group, make a web on a piece of chart paper. In the center circle, write "Nur Jahan." Extending from the center, make a circle for each of the roles, writing one role in each circle. Once done, you'll have a visual (but not linear) outline of the aricle and will be able to fill in the details.

As you re-read the article, make some notes in each circle about Nur Jahan's actions as they relate to the role listed in the circle. For example, what actions did she take that show she was a military leader? Then, with your group, think about how to describe someone who took similar actions. For example, Nur Jahan led warriors into battle. How would you describe someone who led warriors into battle. You might describe her as brave. If so, write "brave" in a different color in the circle with the action, "led warriors into battle." In this way, you'll be identifying character traits that you infer she might have had that her actions revealed.

When done, look over the web you've created about this extraordinary woman. With your group, discuss the following: Which of Nur Jahan's actions do you think were most important for a leader to perform? Which do you think were least important? Why? Then look at the traits you decided that these actions revealed. Which character traits do you think best suit someone to be a leader? Why? Which of those traits does Nur Jahan have? Which does she lack? As you evaluate Nur Jahan's leadership qualities, you might compare her with one or more people who fill leadership roles today. They might be local leaders that you know—such as your school's principal or headmaster—or national or international leaders. How do these leaders compare to Nur Jahan?

One historian described Nur Jahan as "worthy to be a queen." Based on your analysis, do you agree? Write a letter of recommendation for Nur Jahan as if she were applying for the job of queen. In your letter, identify three qualities she possesses that you believe are important for a queen to possess. Then provide examples of actions that demonstrate that Nur Jahan had those qualities. Be as persuasive as you can. 

 



Common Core Standards met in this lesson:

RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text explicitly and implicitly says.

W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate for the task, purpose and audience.