Book Review: I Am Malala

screenshot_2015-12-21-14-11-42-1.pngMalala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban in 2012, beautifully recounts her life story as a child activist in I Am Malala; fighting for the right to education, especially for girls and women in a war-torn and misogynistic society under Taliban rule.

Born to a father who valued education and the believed that the “lack of education was the root of Pakistan’s problems…”, Ziauddin Yousafzai was a man set part from most Pakistani men of the Muslim faith; he believed that everyone had the right to a good education despite their income status or gender. Her father believed the pervasive ignorance in the Pakistan was as a result of the lack of education among the Pakistani people. Much of the rampant manipulation of the Pakistani people in the name of Allah or allegedly outlined in the Qur’an was due to their inability to read and interpret the teachings of the Qur’an for themselves.

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world”

Malala’s father wholly believed in and encouraged independent thought and creativity in the three madrasas or schools which he established in Swat, the valley where he and his family resided. Promising to protect Malala’s freedom in an oppressive society against the advancement of  women, Malala’s father played a very instrumental role in molding and shaping Malala into a brave and outspoken activist for the the indiscriminate and equal opportunity for education for all.

As Malala recounts the episodes of her life that lead to her world fame fighting against education inequality she also invites the reader into the oppressive and misogynistic state that Pakistani women live in; where a woman’s life is of little value, nothing more than a bargaining tool to settle disputes among tribes, in the Pakistani practice of swara—the practice of resolving a tribal feud by handing over a woman or young girl. Many times throughout the telling of her story, Malala denounces the oppressive state that women are subjected to in Pakistan. The excerpt below wonderfully capture’s Malala’s young feminist thoughts:

“In Pakistan we had had a woman prime minister and in Islamabad I had met those impressive working women, yet the fact was that we were a country where almost all the women depend entirely on men. My headmistress Maryam was a strong educated woman, but in our society she could not live on her own and come to work. She had to be living with a husband, brother, or parents.

In Pakistan when women say they want independence, people think this means we don’t want to obey our fathers, brothers, or husbands. But it does not mean that. It means we want to make decisions for ourselves. We want to be free to go to school or go to work. Nowhere is it written in the Qur’an that a woman should be dependent on a man. The word has not come down from the heavens to tell us that every woman should listen to a man.”

Throughout the pages of I Am Malala, Malala provides some history and background to the rise of militant Muslims on a mission to spread a radical form Islam. On a couple of occasions it is mentioned that the radicalization of Islam is a direct consequence of Pakistan’s involvement in the war against the spread of Communism between the United States and the Russian Soviet Union. It is even recounted how the infamous term Taliban–synonymous with terrorist, is the derivative of talib, religious student.

I am Malala is a wonderfully written account of the life of Malala Yousafzai, the lionhearted Pakistani girl who was shot in the face campaigning for the equal opportunity for education for Pakistani girls and girls around the world. The account of Malala’s life does not only provide the reader with a glimpse of the life of Pakistanis living in a world entrenched in war and the false teachings of hatred and oppression under the guise of the Qur’an but it also leaves the reader moved and inspired by the life and courage of this young girl. I leave you with the  following excerpts from I Am Malala in hopes that you are inspired to read her life story, which will leave your world forever changed:

“I thank Allah…for sending us to this world where we may struggle for our survival. Some people choose good ways and some choose bad ways. One person’s bullet hit me. It swelled my brain, stole my hearing and cut the nerve of my left face in the space of a second. And after that one second, there were millions of people praying for my life…I was a good girl. In my heart I had only the desire to help people. It wasn’t about the awards or money. I always prayed to God, “I want to help people and please help me to do that.” “

“By giving me this height to reach people, he {Allah} has given me great responsibilities. Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country–this is my dream. Education for every boy and girl in the world…

I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”


Leave your comments below about your thoughts on I Am Malala.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: I Am Malala

  1. I enjoy reading such books. It pains me though, that some children have to go through what the author went through. As much as it shapes or toughens them into adulthood, I wish such stories could come to an end.

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