Malala: a story of courage, defiance — and deep, deep faith

It’s not every day that you see the courage of an ordinary citizen in public. The courage gets stronger when you see that its source is a 14-year-old girl. And it is in one of the rarest of the rare cases, we have a Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai warding off and fighting with the Taliban, a force that even the nation’s inglorious army is unwilling or unable to face.

Salute to Malala for taking a bullet in her head. Threats of that bullet heading her way had been lingering for years. Kudos to her family, who felt that since she was doing the right thing — writing about life under the rule of Pakistani Taliban and campaigning for the education of girls, something perhaps the government of Pakistan should have supported — for standing by her political aspirations.

The bullet that hit her head has missed the bigger point Malala was making — the courage to stand by her convictions. Even as her father waits for her to regain consciousness in a military hospital, he said the shooting will not stop Malala or him from doing what they have been.

Shooting Malala goes not only against the law of the land in a nation struggling to come to terms with state terrorism that has now imploded and is now targeting its own people, but against Islam itself. “We will focus on our work with more strength,” Malala’s father Ziauddin told Reuters. “If all of us die fighting, we will still not leave this work.” Now we know where Malala gets her rebellious streak from.

This, dear readers, is the power of faith — this is faith. It goes beyond any religion, belief system, cult, creed, gender. It has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with its deeper, inner workings. To me, Malala is not only the voice but the act of spirituality, she is a greater Muslim than all the Taliban put together can ever aspire to be.

Over the next few days I will be tracking Malala’s recovery on my Twitter handle @gchikermane. Do join in. And if you believe in prayers, this is the time to direct them for her recovery.

The Malala story:

The New York Times: I want an access to the world of knowledge: Malala. An amazing insight into her work.

The Dawn: Those who really deserve condemnation are us Pakistanis as a people. I apologise to Malala for a society who has forgotten to apologise. Half of it is busy frantically convoluting scenarios to explain away this cowardly act and hold on to the delusions upon which they construct their politics and fire their oh-so-revolutionary rhetoric; while the other half, like me, are sinking (or being sunk) into a sticky puddle of apathy and cynicism. Both are a far cry from what Malala was. Nay, is!

The Guardian: Malala Yousafzai: Pakistan Taliban causes revulsion by shooting girl who spoke out. Attempt to kill activist Malala Yousafzai, 14, could be ‘watershed’ moment that turns public tide against militants and extremism.

Huffington Post: Malala Yousufzai, Pakistani Teen Activist, Shooting Sparks Outrage.

The Telegraph: Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old who stood up to Taliban thugs, is a rare beacon of hope in Pakistan.

The Dawn: “No matter where the terrorists may escape, we will bring them to justice,” said interior minister Rehman Malik. “We have identified the gang which carried out the attack (on Malala Yousafzai) … and we also know when the terrorists arrived in Swat.”

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