Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 797
Ghulamullah, a mufti (Islamic scholar), began a campaign of intimidation against Ziauddin after he observed girls attending the Khushal School. Ghulamullah proclaimed that Ziauddin's school was haram, or forbidden under Sharia law; he even tried to manipulate the school's landlady into breaking Ziauddin's lease. The landlady refused, and Ghulamullah eventually turned up at Ziauddin's home with a delegation of religious leaders. The men demanded that Ziauddin stop schooling girls, claiming that such a practice is forbidden by the Quran. In their view, all girls must be made to dwell in sacred seclusion. Ziauddin's strong opposition led to an uneasy compromise: the girls would henceforth enter the school through another gate, which would shield them from the view of the men. Malala reports that in 2002, special elections brought the Muttahida Majlis e-Amal Alliance (MMA) to power in her province. She notes that the rise of the MMA disproportionately increased the power and influence of conservative clerics in her region. The MMA government banned Western paraphernalia and harassed people for imitating Western lifestyles. In 2003, Ziauddin opened his coed high school, but by 2004, the political climate had so changed that he was forced to separate the boys from the girls. Buoyed by the authority of the MMA, Ghulamullah continued his campaign of intimidation against Ziauddin.
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Malala relates that Pakistan experienced one of the worst earthquakes in its history on October 8, 2005. Although Mingora was largely spared, Ziauddin’s childhood village in Shangla sustained widespread damage. Eight people were killed, and many homes were demolished. In the aftermath, General Musharraf sent out the Pakistani army to deliver supplies and relief packages to devastated regions. The Americans also sent help. Many of the military helicopters, however, could not reach more remote regions that were affected by the earthquake. To make up for the shortfall, members of the TNSM and Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD) set up relief patrols and makeshift hospitals to tend to the injured. The JuD even took in orphaned children and housed them in their madrasas. These militant groups eventually indoctrinated the children in extremist ideology and taught them to reject science and literature.
In Chapter 7, Malala questions the narrow definition of Islam that some Muslims adhere to. She discusses how subtle differences between the two main sects of Islam have been responsible for violent conflict in the Muslim world for centuries. Today, Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims in Malala's homeland. Sunnis believe that Hazrat Abu Bakr and his descendants are the true leaders of the Muslim world. In contrast, minority Shias believe that Hazrat Ali and his descendants should have succeeded the prophet Muhammad. Shias prefer succeeding caliphs to originate from the prophet's family, while Sunnis are willing to look for leaders beyond the prophet's immediate family. Malala reveals that Deobandis and Salafists are the most conservative Sunni groups in her country. It is important to note that although many in the Western world consider Salafists extreme fundamentalists, there is a slight difference between mainstream Salafists and Salafist-jihadis.
While mainstream Salafists advocate rigid conformity to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, they do not support the Salafist-jihadi notion that violence is necessary to usher in a global caliphate. For its part, Salafi-jihadism is derived from the radical Muslim Brotherhood and strongly favors aggressive proselytizing. Groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are classified as Salafist-jihadis. In this chapter, we learn that the US unleashed Predator drone strikes on Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Pakistan–Afghanistan border in 2004 and 2006. The FATA borders the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North West Frontier Province), where Malala's beloved Swat Valley is situated. The Americans had acted on intelligence that Al-Qaeda militants were taking advantage of the Pashtun hospitality code to hide out in remote areas along the Pakistan–Afghanistan border. The American drone strikes backfired, however, when a missile killed eighty-two people in a madrasa in Khat on October 30, 2006. The local Pashtun clerics immediately called for retaliation, but Ziauddin warned that the main goal should be rooting out militancy within the Pashtun ranks. To Ziauddin, predator drone strikes and militant Islam were twin dangers to the Pashtun people. Ziauddin's warning was ignored, but his worries were prescient. In the aftermath of September 11, the Taliban took up refuge in the Swat Valley and persecuted the locals.
In Chapter 8, we learn that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are opportunists. Although the Taliban are Sunni Deobandis, the group frequently aligns itself with Salafist-jihadis like Al-Qaeda. In the aftermath of the earthquake, militant groups like the JuD and TNSM rushed in to provide much-needed aid. They had an ulterior motive, however. Their goal was to spread the Salafist-jihadi brand of militant Islam to the Swat Valley. To do that, they were willing to prey on the fears of a trusting populace during a national tragedy.