I am Malala is More Than a Story
Malala Yousafzai's Ground Zero happened on October 9, 2012, when she was a 15 year old student in a Pakistani girls' school.
Shot point-blank in the face by a the Taliban, while on a bus ride to her school, Malala survived to tell her tale - and what a tale it is.
Unlike the Western aftermath of 9/11, she
didn't dedicate the rest of her life to killing the terrorists who tried to kill her, and shot two others girls also on the bus.
She continues to use her voice to promote the rights of girls to education. Malala is a Muslim and the Qur'an promotes education for everyone. It begins with the word recite, a command to educate and gain education through sharing of knowledge.
As a pre-teen this girl authored a blog about the trials and struggles of resisting the incursion of Taliban activity in their pristine Swat Valley homeland, published on BBC, under the name Yousafzai. She addressed her topics of concern upfront, and gained rightful attention.
Malala was born into a family where her mom's education had ended when she was very young, as it was a tribal custom that girls didn't need schooling because their jobs revolved around home and family, alone.
But that was a tribal dictum, not Qur'anic,
so it was and is not part of the religion of Islam, yet it affected all female, Muslims like all the girls in Malala's family.
Not only did tribal rule dictate practices,
but tribal authorities of particular clans rose to power and exerted control through fanatically rigid interpretation of Islam carried to an extreme. If those men couldn't gain power through the strength of their teaching, then they showed no hesitation to use the whip or AK47.
Her dad proclaimed the virtues in removing
the bars to education for girls. Something switched on in him the moment he first laid eyes on his first newborn child. Although the giving of gifts to the father of a baby son meant that in his case, the birth of his daughter would go unrecognized by family and friends and neighbors, he said enough and ask them all to treat his baby girl's birth as just as remarkable and deserving of glee, as if she had been born male.
Having a progressive dad who had overcome
stuttering to become a fabulous orator, and a schoolteacher, injected into this girl child a similar love of using language to overturn challenges. She mined ideas, promoting those which elevate all persons, but especially girls.
The Taliban, who had taken control of the
Swat Valley of her homeland, surely recognized the truth in Malala's and her dad's promotion of the rights of girls to education beyond the primary years. Malala's ancestry is Pashtun, from the same tribal lines as the majority Taliban, so it was a double affront to the marauders to have their rules rejected.
The tribal Taliban diatribes couldn't control everyone with diatribes - the sign of a losing point-of-view - so they turned to weaponry left over from the joint US-Pakistan war against the Soviet Union intervention in Afghanistan. After threatening her dad, to no avail, they turned their gun on the 15 year old child.
Why buy her book?
In her own words she provides a historical, tribal and religious background to set the incident in its scene. I continue to be impressed by the Western media reports of this teenager, but in reading her book I've come to know her as a person.
- learn how she had the guts to imagine telling any threatening terrorist to go ahead and kill her, but before pulling the trigger, to hear what she had to say.
- consider how her dad had previously sought a death as a martyr, in sympathy with other talibs.
- understand how the concept of revenge has such a strong hold on the territory.
Malala is not the only girl leader
but the media latched onto her with good reason. The book is a captivating and enlightening read.
The book is available in more than one language. This is in Spanish.