Most everyone by now, I suppose, knows who Malala Yousafzai is. She is a Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban because she was a loud proponent of girls being educated. She was just 15 when she was shot. Rather than curl up and hide, Malala has used her notoriety to become a world-renowned advocate for girls’ education.
Her book, “I Am Malala” is her autobiography. It details her life growing up in the Swat Valley in Pakistan, and how she came to be such a well-known advocate. It covers the day she was shot and the immediate aftermath.
I’m thoroughly convinced that everyone should read this book, especially teenagers who groan about having to go to school and adults who think that all Muslims are inherently violent.
Malala and her family are devout and traditional. Malala’s father, however, does not interpret the Koran to mean that women should not be educated. Rather, he points to the fact that Mohammed’s wife, Kadijah, was an educated woman, and successful at running her own business. If it is ok for the Prophet’s wife, he argues, it is ok for his daughter. Her father runs a school for girls, and finds himself from that role being interviewed on radio shows and on panels about girls’ education.
When the Taliban takes hold, the Yousafzai family holds its ground. Even when people they know are brutally murdered for their beliefs, they stay fast. Their courage and strength is inspiring. Their fight for basic rights like education make me realize how truly privileged we are in this Country.
It’s the kind of story that makes you wonder what you would do under the same circumstances. It makes you realize how insidious institutions like the Taliban can take hold over otherwise reasonable, kind, and peaceful people. And it makes you realize how important freedom of religion really is to peace and understanding.
In a world where so many people seem to be famous simply because they are famous, and young people are being presented as spoiled and entitled, the fact of Malala’s existence and fame is in and of itself something that gives hope for the future. (Confession: when my daughter got a bad grade because of her failure to turn in her homework, I made her read this book. I wanted her to learn of a girl who was willing to get shot in the face for the opportunity to be educated, instead of being annoyed that she was being educated.)
To read more, click the handy-dandy Amazon link below.