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Jul 222013
 
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Malala Day recognizes Pakistanis' yearning for peace and education.

by Mehdi Rizvi

Pakistan’s pride showed a new face last week, when the United Nations declared July 12 to be World Malala Day. Malala Yousufzai celebrated her 16th birthday by speaking before the General Assembly, Less than a year after being shot in the face, the Pakistani teenager confidently called for global improvements in girls’ education.

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Malala “the most courageous girl in the world”.  Last fall, a Talib climbed up her school bus stairs and shot her and two other girls, in an attempt to impose a Taliban regime in the Swat Valley — leaving her grievously wounded in the head, neck and face. Her family managed to whisk her away to England for surgery and reconstruction. She was discharged from hospital in February 2012.

We need educated daughters, sisters and mothers in order to have peace and prosperity in the world.

The modest Pushtun girl wore a pink Pakistani dress to the UN, and covered her hair with a  headscarf. She addressed the world forum in an elegant style with meaningful and inspiring words, full of energy and eloquence even when uttered in her soft voice.

In her speech, Malala urged the UN and world leaders to keep their promise to provide universal primary education by the end of 2015. She said clearly and with conviction that she was “the same Malala. My ambitions are the same, my hopes are the same, my dreams are the same.”
She called for free, compulsory education “for every child for promoting education in the world“.

Although opponents of girls education tried to kill her, they couldn’t kill her determination, which was clearly visible on her face when she stood at the podium.

Malala said, ”Thanks to God for whom we all are equal. Thanks to all those who prayed for my fast recovery and a new life. Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every body and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights to education, and equality and peace and I am just one girl among them.”
 
She emphasized, "I speak not for my self, but for those without voice who can’t be heard, for their right to live with dignity, equality and peace. I was shot and they thought bullet would silence my voice — but out of the silence came thousands of voices.

“If I am given a gun, I would not shoot my killer. This is the compassion what I have learned from prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, and Buddha. My soul is telling me, be peaceful and love every one".
 
Leaving aside the ideological and political differences of opponents, the significance of education for girls can’t be compromised.  A young girl of today will become a mother tomorrow and mother’s lap is the first nursery for every child on the earth. We need educated daughters, sisters and mothers in order to have peace and prosperity in the world.
 
The prophet of Islam, Muhammad (praise be His name) once said, “It is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, to acquire knowledge.” The first revelation on the prophet begins with the words “Iqra” ie to read, and recite. Unfortunately, there is a contradiction between  preaching and the practice. In fact the doors to education are hardly open to women in many Muslim countries. And those who try to empower women with awareness and education, sometimes have to put their lives at risk in order to obey the true teachings of the prophet and follow the message of Quran.
 
In the Islamic theory of knowledge, the term “ilm” has much richer and deeper meanings than the word of knowledge in western world.  "Ilm "is an all encompassing term covering theory, action and education. But some Muslims societies still have confusions and contradictions on sharing  the wealth of education with women, which led to many conflicts and confrontations within Muslim societies in the past.

When Sir Syed Ahmed Khan established Aligarh Muslim College in UN-divided India in the late 19th century, he was denounced as an agent of the British colonial rulers, who wanted to change Muslim values and induct their own Christian values into Muslim society through western education.

Pakistan is a fertile land with vast human and natural resources, but the current wave of violence has resulted in huge losses of life and material, and still there are no visible signs that peace can be restored in the country.

We are optimistic that  girls like Malala are our strength. She is a beacon of light in the darkness of ignorance and poverty in Pakistani society, where millions of girls don’t go to school. The United Nations and the government of Pakistan will have to take serious steps and practical measures to ensure girls have access to education.

About Mehdi Rizvi


Mehdi Rizvi is a former member of the Community Editorial Board, Toronto Star and an affiliate of the Center of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement, which is a consortium of three Toronto universities. He is a chemist who has worked in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, cement and UV printing products for the last 35 years.

© Copyright 2013 Mehdi Rizvi, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca
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