“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

In this quote, Malala reinforces the importance of words. To her, ideas may be forbidden or suppressed, but they can never be destroyed. Powerful ideas can inspire widespread change and transform whole communities. Thus, the power of words lies in their ability to motivate. Ziauddin’s and Malala's ideas about education are controversial to their fellow Pashtuns. Yet their work continues to inspire changes to Pakistan's education policies and to motivate the creation of global initiatives that alleviate poverty and extremism.

“My mother always told me, ‘hide your face people are looking at you.’ I would reply, ‘it does not matter; I am also looking at them.’ ”

Malala's answer to her mother is significant. Militants like Fazlullah maintain that a woman's piety is judged by how well she covers her face. Here, Malala proclaims that she has equal right to judge those who condemn her. In the book, Ziauddin reiterates to Toor Pekai that purdah is as much a matter of the heart as it is a matter of tradition. The Taliban's opinion of a woman is dictated by how well she submits to its rigid rules; after all, its power depends on the willing subjection of a subdued populace. However, true piety is a different matter altogether. It is not dictated by man-made rules and cannot be judged by outward appearances alone.

“Is Islam such a weak religion that it cannot tolerate a...

(The entire section is 641 words.)