illustrated portrait of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

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What significance does Malala attribute to the Quran's first word in I Am Malala?

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Malala Yousafzai is a 21-year-old Pakistani activist and co-author of I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Malala is known primarily for her activism in regard to education, especially education for girls and women, which became banned in her home region of Swat Valley by the Taliban. Malala puts great significance on the first word of the Quran. This is because, quite relevantly to her humanitarian advocacy for education, the first word of the Quran, "Iqra," translates in English to "read."

She speaks about her decision to speak out against the Taliban in her Nobel Lecture, delivered in Oslo in 2014, saying that

We could not just stand by and see those injustices of the terrorists denying our rights, ruthlessly killing people and misusing the name of Islam.

In this vein, Yousafzai puts great significance upon the first word of the Quran because she is making a broader point that allowing access to education, in particular for women, is not at odds with the Quran.

Malala Yousafzai as an activist regularly advocates against those that she believes to be extremists who misuse or misrepresent the Quran and the name of Islam. She makes this point in regard to education but has also provided textual evidence in the Quran that denounces violence and the act of murder, as she seeks to disprove the belief that the Quran as a text is encouraging toward the actions of the Taliban.

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