illustrated portrait of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

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What does the mufti tell Malala's father about his school?

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The mufti told Malala's father that his school was haram and a blasphemy in I Am Malala. The mufti maintained that girls should not go to school but should be in purdah. The latter refers to the practice of girls living in segregated areas to avoid being seen by men or strangers.

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In the book, the mufti Ghulamullah was displeased when Malala's father opened the Khushal School for girls.

Ghulamullah belonged to a conservative Sunni Muslim sect called Deobandi. The Deobandis run the majority of the madrassas in Pakistan. Ghulamullah became angry after watching the schoolgirls going in and out of the school daily.

In his anger, he approached the woman who owned the school premises. Ghulamullah told the landlady that Malala's father was running a haram (forbidden) school and that he was bringing shame on the neighborhood. He also reiterated his belief that the girls should be in purdah, or seclusion.

Ghulamullah offered to rent the school for his madrassa if the landlady took the building back from the Khushal School. However, the woman refused. Meanwhile, her son secretly approached Malala's father to warn him that the mufti had a vendetta against him.

Later, the mufti gathered several influential people and the neighborhood's elders together. They marched to Malala's home and demanded that Malala's father close the Khushal School. Ghulamullah asserted that he was representing the Sunni faithful and the Taliban. He told Malala's father that girls should not go to school but should observe purdah due to their sacred nature.

Ghulamullah maintained that the Quran names no women, but Malala's father argued that Maryam's name is mentioned in the book. The group of men also call into question Malala's father's Islamic faith.

In the end, Malala's father told the group that the girls would enter the school through another gate, thus removing them from the view of men and strangers. Unlike the elders, the mufti wasn't pleased with this compromise. The group eventually left, but worse was still to come. By 2008, the Taliban had destroyed 400 schools.

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