Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a courageous, principled, and idealistic teenager. Like Ziauddin, she is deeply committed to human rights issues. During her school days, Malala received a comprehensive education that exposed her to Western and Eastern philosophical thought. Her respect for the power of the pen equipped her to advocate for disenfranchised girls when the Taliban sought to close all girls' schools in Pakistan. In matters of faith, Malala is a devout Muslim who harbors decidedly liberal views about religion, gender roles, and politics. For example, she disagrees with the notion that all women and girls must adhere to purdah (a life of seclusion). Malala argues that the Quran does not require women to be excluded from the public sphere. She maintains that the Taliban's treatment of women is barbaric, illogical, and cruel. In Malala’s view, every woman has the right to live according to her conscience; she does not have to comply with the directives of extremists who care little about her welfare or happiness.

Malala is also a vocal opponent of the Taliban's use of psychological warfare on her fellow civilians. In her view, the terror group's manipulation of poverty-stricken communities during national tragedies is unethical and un-Islamic. As a result of the Taliban's twin campaigns of intimidation and disinformation, many of her fellow Pakistanis harbor an irrational fear of Western medicine, technological innovation, and dialectical discourse (a method of determining truth through an examination of opposing ideas). Malala believes that education is the key to breaking the Taliban's hold on her people. She is inspired by the Quran, which encourages all believers to seek knowledge. Malala maintains that an awakened mind is the only protection against the seductive ideologies and dangerous fallacies promoted by Taliban extremists. Today, Malala's work is focused on reversing the results of the Taliban's relentless school bombing campaigns, which have led to an educational holocaust in Pakistan.