I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban is an autobiography written by Malala Yousafzai. The book starts off with an introduction about her background. She was born in a city called Mingora which is part of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She notes that women and girls are not as valued as men in their society but was raised by a progressive family. Her father is in favor of women’s rights but she questions if she will ever receive the same privileges’ as men.
Malala mentions an event that she considers as significant in her life. When she was in her teens, she was criticized often by her relatives for not properly covering her face and body. She then discusses the realization that the code and way of life for women is very strict (they can only show their faces to certain people, can not speak to men who are in their immediate family, etc). If they do not follow the code or the rules, they can face severe consequences from members in society.
She then goes on to tell a story about an Islamic scholar (mufti) who tried to close the school that she went to. The scholar believed that “teenage girls should not be going to school. They should be in purdah” (Yousafzai, 32). In Islam, according to some ideologies women should be designated to homemaking and have no need to be educated. This highlights how people in her area were significantly against the progress of women in society. Malala’s father argued using the Quran that the scholar was not being accurate. They eventually came to a compromise that “the older girls would enter through a different gate” (Yousafzai, 32) rather than “entering the school through the same gate that men also used” (Yousafzai, 32).
Another event she details is an earthquake that took place in 2005 which was considered to be the one to have the biggest impact in Pakistan’s history. It registered a “7.6 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Kabul and Delhi” (Yousafzai, 29). The earthquake did not affect her hometown significantly but hit hard in other areas near her and led to deaths of thousands. Islamic leaders used this earthquake for their own benefit as they used it to claim that the earthquake was due to people not strictly adhering to Islamic law. They stated that if people “did not mend [their] ways and introduce sharia, or Islamic law, more severe punishment would come.” (Yousafzai, 29) to bring fear into societies.
I chose a sculpture of Buddha that was sculpted in around 200-300 CE in the Gandharan region of Northern India. Buddha was a religious figure who was known for his teachings and is the creator of Buddhism. I can connect this to the book I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban as both Buddhism and Islam have had conflicts due to teachings and religious text. Since the dawn of time, there have been wars, fights, and discussions over how to interpret teachings and written texts. This is the case is the book I am reading as some view the Quran as something to be followed line for line and literally, while others are more free-minded and leave room for interpretation. In Malala’s case, the Taliban strictly follows the sharia law and what is being taught in the Quran. There have been very similar things in Buddhism such as wars over how to interpret the words of Buddha. The sculpture represents “the important cultural exchanges between the Hellenistic world of Greek and Roman art and the native artistic traditions of India (BAMPFA)”. The artists that created this “took a new, humanistic approach to depicting the Buddha in clothing and settings drawn from the West and combined them with descriptive tales of the life and teachings of the Buddha”(BAMPFA).
“Beyond Boundaries: Buddhist Art of Gandhara.” BAMPFA, bampfa.org/program/beyond-boundaries-buddhist-art-gandhara.
Yousafzai, Malala, and Christina Lamb. I Am Malala the Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library, 2017.