Malala Yusafzai, the teenager who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban has displayed tremendous foresight and judgment by recognizing the importance of education in the development of civilized society; something that men in some patriarchal societies, like Afghanistan, seem unable to grasp.
It is no wonder, then, that in those countries where a woman’s right to an education (and other God-given rights) is severely curtailed, or outright prohibited, progress moves along at a snail’s pace. Most of them are poor and depend heavily on Western nations, whom they claim to detest, for aid. Yet somehow, in their collective misery and pride, they find the means-and necessity-to oppress half their population.
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens; the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women,” Young Malala said in her speech to the United Nations. And she was right. The extremists know that the only way they can continue to hold sway over the populace is to keep them in ignorance. For, once a mind–any mind–is exposed to the world of knowledge that is available to him/her, there are no bonds strong enough to keep him/her enslaved.
It is almost as if the extremists don’t care about progressing or joining the twenty-first century, but are content to live out their lives lording over their miserable subjects. Manufacturing and technology seem to be anathema to them, with the exception of guns and missiles, of course. With them, they are able to carry on a perpetual war with Israel, or use them on their own people to stifle descent, and thereby, progress.
With their superior weaponry, it is understandable, then, that these dictatorial governments-that usually ascend to power in these theocracies-and misguided tribal leaders have been able to suppress the inherent will of the people-especially women-to learn anything and everything that their fertile minds desire. For, we, as human beings, are driven to learn from the day we exit the womb; were it not for this innate desire, we as a species would surely die out.
What, then, could drive men to sign their own death warrant by denying half its population from realizing its fullest potential but greed and hubris? It is difficult for me to imagine anyone so shortsighted having any belief in the hereafter, let alone, God. There intent, apparently, is to savor the goods of this life and let the true believers worry about the next.
So, why should people of faith fear reprisal from those who, by their own actions, have proven themselves to be disbelievers (in God)? Malala said it best: “Let us pick up our books and our pens; they are the most powerful weapons (I Am Malala).” If we are to defeat the forces of ignorance and Godlessness, we must do so with the instruments that separates and exalts us above the rest of the animal kingdom.
I pray that god will send us more young women (and men) with the courage of Malala, for it is in youths like her that the future of humanity resides.
Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban