14 November 2013


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I have always been one to defy tradition and laws I do not believe in; sacrificing for freedom of self and expression, even as I angle to help fight the cause of human right, justice and equality. In this weekly, there is a deep call from within to consider this, take advice (whatever you glean) and speak your mind. Enjoy, even as you think.
‘The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.’- Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74 
‘Acquire knowledge and impart it to the people.’- Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 107
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I have always been passionate about knowledge; seeking the new, conquering unfamiliar grounds, always in search of the ‘more’ and the freedom that comes with attaining it. Yes, I know with knowledge comes sacrifice, particularly in a country like mine, but I was and am prepared to pay the price for in it, I find fulfilment and equip myself to serve others. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says to acquire knowledge and share it.

‘Acquire knowledge…; he who speaks of it, praises the Lord; he who seeks it adore Allah…he who imparts it to others, perform an act of devotion to Allah’. (Bukhari, Muslim)

In my quest for knowledge, I have had to fight for my right to choose and almost died for it. I do not need to repeat my story, you know about me and the Taliban. Now, I have gained some knowledge through the things I have read, and the roads I have walked. I have fulfilled an injunction of the Hadith, and about to fulfil the other, which is to share what I have learned with others. What better way to do this than to write my story, share my pain and gain…let my sisters in my country be set free from the the bounds of ignorance they are fettered in? Therefore, I wrote my story, ‘I Am Malala’. My book is a detailed walk into the places I have been and the gifts of knowledge which I have attained and now bear my brethren. But then…am I to be denied this chance?

I do not seek popularity, neither do I seek wealth, even though the Prophet (PBUH) equates knowledge with wealth and with that I am wealthy. I seek to share this wealth with my brethren. Am I to be denied…?


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They call us all sorts of names but the one we like best is ‘extremists’ because it sets us apart and that is one of the things we are trying to do. We are people who think out of the box, principled and very creative and contrary to what people think and say, we want the best for our brethren. Our laws are not extreme, people just don’t see the good in it yet; the crime-free society we seek to create, the respect and honour we’d like to accord our women, the training we’d like to give our boys on how to be real men and what true freedom, true knowledge, true Islam is.

On education, our women are not allowed to work and girls be educated after the age of eight. Let them study the Quran and plan on how to be responsible to their families and be respected. Malala is one girl who thinks she is wiser and smarter than the Taliban. She wants freedom for girls like her, education, knowledge…all this we provide but she wants it the way of the West. Well, we can’t allow that for she will be a bad example and incite girls like her and so, we did what we had to do. We warned her off. If we truly wanted to kill her, we would have, and cleanly too. And now, she has gone wild…we will try to tame her once more but if she doesn’t let herself be tamed, we will finish what we started. It is not extremism or wickedness, it is a precautionary step.


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The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) commands the seeking of knowledge but it is our duty, to screen what kind of knowledge we attain and as the custodian of the children of Pakistan who are our future, we must decide, we must enforce what they get exposed to. It is our duty.

We have seen the trend in the West and we can say this, knowledge is harmful! Okay, maybe not all but if it is coming from the West, it is definitely corrupted. The quest for independence, equipping girls with power…power corrupts, and the West cannot understand that. It is most definitely harmful if placed in the wrong hands (female) and this, has been roped and disguised as knowledge. No, we will not allow this. She is a tool of the West, designed to destroy all we have built for years.

Malala is our child and we do not deny that. She is a hero for all she has been through but the contents of her book are strictly against our ideologies. She did not respect the Prophet and even though we can take our gaze away from that, probably order a correction and re-printing; we cannot forgive some of the things she said and her mention of Rushdie. Don’t even ask us to rethink this again; our mind is made up. The book has been banned from all private schools and their affiliates. 

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My thoughts are many on this issue and the more I chew on it, the more they grow. I hate to add more ingredients to the already boiling cauldron but this is one issue I can’t pass up writing about. I should also add that this is my very first on the whole Malala thing.

In the words of Adeeb Javedani, President of All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, ‘Everything about Malala is now becoming clear. To me, she is representing the West, not us.’ The individual may or may not be a reflection of his/her society. The choice is up to him/her, if the society will influence, shape his/her way of life and reason. Some may argue that the society has a large influence on the individual, maybe so, but there are some who have made up their minds to break free of traditional restrictions in terms of beliefs, laws and/or conduct. Malala is one. If a society is not conducive for one’s growth, should one not seek for one which is?

‘Pakistan is an ideological country. That ideology is based on Islam…in this book are many comments that are contrary to our ideology.’ I really can’t remember who said this but this statement is just so slammed. From it, one can infer a lot of things like Pakistan is an Islamic country whose ideologies are strictly based on Islam. Now, in the light of this, quick questions;

· Is Islam against freedom of speech?

· Is Islam against education, especially in regards to the girl-child?

· Is Islam against standing up for justice and equality?

Malala was tagged ‘a tool of the West’ and we know that the West is in support of the above and Pakistan obviously is not, and since Pakistan claimed to have built her ideology on Islam, what does that mean? ThatIslam is against these, education, freedom of speech, equality and all? I leave that for you to munch.

Kahif says she became ‘a tool in the hands of Western powers’ and I ask, which tool? What tool? That of enlightenment, modernization, education, or human rights? There is a whole lot to think and ask, not because of ‘one girl’ but because of a country, her people and the world at large; slavery in the face of freedom, ignorance in the laser-gaze of knowledge, traditional bondage warring against the tides of liberty modernism brings. 
Freedom of expression/speech is being caged and the right to choose is being infringed. Malala has a right to express her beliefs and opinion and she did that in her book. The children of Pakistan and other citizens of that country have the right to choose their own beliefs and if the truth or falsity of Malala’s book should be subscribed to; parents have a right to decide the books they want their wards exposed to; students have a right to choose if they want Malala’s book or not.

Pakistan is one society where freedom of speech is trampled and the right to education is stratified based on gender and traditional beliefs. What are these people afraid of? What is in a book? Information? Education? What is the power of a book? Liberation from ignorance amongst others? With the happenings around the world, is it not time Pakistan allows her citizens some new level of freedom? Especially in education and human rights? Kirza says the people of Pakistan love Malala and she is their daughter. I say you do not shut the voice of one you love; you do cut your daughter off from her people. In simple terms and in light of the above, banning the book 'I Am Malala' is cutting her off; shutting her down; drowning her voice; violating her rights and this...is wrong. 
I pause this weekly, and I resume my chewing.

Am I a slave in anyway? How long and hard will I fight for my voice to be heard? Do I perhaps in my quest for being heard silence the voices of others? Oh, the Taliban comes to mind here but before I crucify, perhaps I have nailed others in my own ways, howbeit small? What about the custodian of ‘rights’? is that any man’s ‘inheritance’ or are we privileged to be given that chance? When we have been given, what do we do with it? Consult those who gave us or put them in mind when deciding things that affect them or see the power we wield alone? Oh, so much to think with questions birthing questions and no straight forward answer.
Mary Ajayi

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