★★★/★★★★★ I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb.
I have wanted to review this book about the life of this beautiful person for a while, and due to the circumstances Muslims (particularly women, considering my parents told me to remove my headscarf until things calmed down) are facing right now after the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Somalia, and many others, this seems like the perfect time to include a person that represent a side of Islam that is not often depicted in media, the side of peace and non-fundamentalist views.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist that was shot at by the Taliban after going to school and promoting education for everyone. Yes, the Taliban shot her because she stood up for education. And although this book is mostly about how she grew up, and where, and how the Taliban came to control Swat Valley, it is the perfect introduction for everyone that wishes to know how this Nobel Prize laureate became one of the greatest activist in the world, and how she represents the best of us, no matter the faith or no faith at all, ethnic background or culture, or sexuality, she is some of the best humanity has to offer.
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
Malala was silenced by these terrorist extremist, that saw to oppress women and take away from them the right given by Ar-Razzaq. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said “Acquiring of knowledge is obligatory to every Muslim male and female” and “Attain knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” Denying anyone education simply based on their sex or gender is an insult to the greatest man to have walk this earth and his creator, Malala sees this, and fights those against it, with words instead of swords.
I appreaciate so much that Malala uses Islam and Muslims as examples to why no one should be denied such a basic human right, and in turn, educating people that might not otherwise see such examples of Muslims being portrayed, as often they are shown “the evils of Islam and the prophet of war.” There are of course certain passages in the Quran that promote violence on certain circumstances, I will not deny it, but so does almost, if not every, religious text in existence, as well as many political legislation, violence is not specific only to religion, but to ever form in the world, for evil does exists, and denying its existence would be an offense to our intelligence.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
This is a girl who, during an interview with Jon Stewart had this to say to him after she wonders what she would do if the Taliban comes for her again: “If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib, you must not treat others with cruelty…You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education. … I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you now do what you want.” Here she is showing the most common thing I have seen Muslims perform in the past few years after all the harassment and hatred spewed towards them, turning the other cheek. Malala is a Muslim and sees Islam as a way to reform those that claim to be Muslim and commit acts of terror in the name of the same religion, rather than using other forms that might contradict with the culture of many. She seeks to reform true the one thing they all share, a belief in Allah, the Prophet, and Quran.
The best a Muslim can do is perform jihad (a struggle) against those that are tyrants. Malala is performing jihad against terrorist every time she speaks against them, every time she breathes, every time she turns a year older, and every time she condemns what they are doing. This book is jihad, and I am honoured to have been able to read it.
“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
I cannot recall how many times I have been told or someone of my same faith, has been told that they cannot possibly be feminists, for it is a Western value, and that equality is a thing that goes against my religion, and therefore I am oppressed and should leave the faith. To those I say: look at Malala. She shows that education and feminism is not pertaining to be against any faith or culture, but rather the creation of domineering people that seek to limit the rights of others, and calls world-leaders and the common people alike to seek for equality and respect.
So think of Malala next time you see a Muslim man being threatened for having a beard. Think of her when you see a Muslim girl having her hijab pulled by ignorant people. Think of her whenever there is an injustice done to a man who is holding hands with his partner, and when a girl dresses with more “masculine clothes.” And then think of her as you stand with those being discriminated and as you fight for equality, it will give you strength. It gives me strength, if Malala is not afraid after all she went through, I shall not be afraid either.
Here are some videos of Malala’s speeches and appearances.