Malala Yousafzai is Still a Taliban Target, And That's a Good Thing


Reportedly, the Taliban is making it very clear that Malala Yousafzai remains on their hit list. The latest attempt of the extremist group to garner international attention resulted in bolstering the strength and recognition of the very force they were fighting against. The very act of declaring Yousafzai a threat to Islam reinforces her message that Talibs are frightened of the power of books, pens, and women. The likely result of the Taliban's girl hunt against Yousafzai will be to lend more credence to her cause to empower girls through education.

What started as diary entries for the BBC Urdu blog started with gunshots and now has scaled into a movement. Yousafzai has become an internationally recognized education activist and is seen as a symbol of non-violent resistance to tyranny. Judging from the media attention Yousafzai has gathered, it is fair to assert that for the Taliban, the threat seems to be that Yousafzai is providing context for education for all through the lens of Islam. Yousafzai has been clear: Islam asserts that it is the responsibility and duty of all Muslims to be educated.

The roots of denying women education are deep. For some, the struggle toward consensus about educating girls in schools lies between understanding the Quran and resolving cultural practices. Notions of equality in Islam and the patriarchal duty of the man to provide everything including the education of the family, can easily be misinterpreted (Surah 4: 34). Yousafzai is a voice among many that calls Islam to consider the education of girls an inherent right and duty.

Interestingly, the Taliban is likely to create a greater case against themselves by targeting Yousafzai, who made her stance of a peaceful heart boldly clear in front of the world during Malala Day. During her speech, Yousafzai said, "This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone." Yousafzai goes on to say that even if she had a gun in her hands, she would not take revenge on the Taliban. Her words bring a verse from the Quran to light. Surah 4:90 (Yousef Ali Translation) in the Quran states: 

"Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them)."

Declaring an open war against Yousafzai is more like a direct blow to a principle of Islam than the protection of it. The doubled-edged sword for Yousafzai is that the more she is considered an enemy of the Taliban and further her message spreads, her security is in greater danger. Perhaps the greatest thing to thank the Taliban for is how the movement for girls' education has quickened on the heels of Yousafzai's story.