Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for girls’ right to education. Being a teenager, she was not afraid to speak up against the regime, which is enforced by the terrorist group. They tried to take her life but made her spirit stronger instead, and now the girl works on changing the world, she organizes campaigns to make education available for everyone.
The girl comes from Mingora town, Swat Valley, Pakistan. Her nationality is Pashtun. As Yousafzai and Lamb (2013) write in the book, in the girl’s native town, there were no such conveniences as running hot and cold water, gas stoves and electricity.
Malala and her family are Muslims, namely Sunnis (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013). According to Denny (1998), Islam is the youngest of the three main world religions, which trace back to the biblical patriarchs. There are six main doctrines in Islam: there is only one God, Allah; God spoke to prophets to change something in the communities; angels are God’s messengers; God revealed holy scriptures to the prophets, the final one is Qur’an; the Last Judgment will come someday and the dead will be resurrected; everything in this world is predetermined.
The five main pillars of Islam are the following: the belief that there is no other God but Allah; everyone should pray five times a day (at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night) facing Ka’aba shrine; one should give a certain amount of their wealth to the poor annually; fasting during Ramadan from sunrise till sunset; pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a life (Rowell, 2014).
There is the division of Muslims into Sunnis (85% of all Muslims) and Shiis. It is based rather on political philosophies than on worship peculiarities. Sunnis state that any Muslim who has leadership ability knows laws, and is a member of Quraysh (the Arabian tribe) can be selected as a deputy of Muhammad, or caliph. The Sunnis follow four orthodox law schools, which appeared in the early centuries (Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, 1998)
According to Rebecca Rowell (2014), many Muslim women are not treated equally to men. However, it is the result of local culture rather than Islamic rules.
The girl’s family consists of her parents, herself and her two younger brothers. Unlike many other families in Pakistan, Malala’s father respects her mother and never hurts her. He treats her as equal, which influenced the girl’s belief that women have certain rights as well. The activist’s mother can neither read nor write, however, her father often asks his wife for a piece of advice and admits she is always right (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
Malala’s father used to be a member of a literary society in their native town and took part in campaigns for the protection of the environment. He comes from a not very rich family, but his hard work made him a good name and helped him earn enough money for his family. The school the girl went to in her native country was actually founded by her father before she was born and was called Khushal Public School (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
The school was once closed by the Taliban people and Malala’s father had to live away from his family because of the threats he received. However, soon they all lived together again, the school was reopened and Malala was not afraid to return to it since she was very passionate about education (Rowell, 2014).
Everyone in Pakistan must follow Islam, and the Taliban enforce that. The Taliban group is represented by terrorists, who, apart from their other ideas, think that girls cannot go to schools. They promote a strict interpretation of Islamic law, and they treat women in a very bad way in general (Rowell, 2014).
Malala Yousafzai has been promoting campaigns for peace and the girls’ right to education in her homeland since the age of eleven. Her first public speech was on September 1st, 2001 at the protest against the Taliban’s campaign, where she went with her father. The topic of the speech was “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education”. People liked what she said, but, at the same time, the speech drew negative attention from Taliban members (Rowell, 2014).
After that, the girl started to write an online diary under the pen name Gul Makai. Malala wrote about fights between the Taliban and Military forces, and the BBC published her writings both in the newspaper and at the BBC’s Urdu Website (Rowell, 2014).
On October 9th, 2012 Malala got shot by a representative of the Taliban, but she managed to survive. The girl was just on her way home from school when the men with guns stopped the bus and got onboard looking for her. (Rowell, 2014).
The members of the Taliban explained their actions by the fact that the girl was promoting Western culture in Pakistan, and her young age did not matter (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
The activist was sent to Great Britain for medical help and stayed there with her family, though the girl still dreams of returning home, despite all the threats she gets. Before Malala got shot, her family had been receiving threats for a year (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
The activist keeps on trying to do her best to change the world. She set up her own fund to raise money for different projects. One of such project was building a school for the people of Maasai Mara in Kenya. The girl also had a meeting with Barack Obama at the White House, where she tried to persuade the president to eradicate terrorism in Pakistan by education, not by war (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
In 2014, at the age of seventeen, Malala was granted Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi and became the youngest person to receive it. During her speech, Malala Yousafzai (2014) said she was telling her story not because it was unique, but because it was the story of many other Muslim girls as well.
However, the girl not only emphasizes the importance of girls’ education, but she also says every single person in the world should have the opportunity to attend school (Rowell, 2014).
As for her plans for the future, Malala wants to be helpful to people in Pakistan. She hopes she can do this by becoming an influential politician. The girl says she wants to get a good education and hear the opinion of successful people to be able to fight the ignorance and terrorism in her country (Yousafzai & Lamb, 2013).
Fighting against the Taliban regime, Malala has shown that people should always long for justice and do their best to bring it, despite their age and sex. If one wants to improve the lives of other people, there are no barriers that can stop them.