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Quotes

“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 book written against it? Not my Islam!”

In this quote, the book in question is Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Some of Ziauddin's peers at Jehanzeb College supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Rushdie, but Ziauddin disapproved. He maintained that freedom of speech was crucial to a self-governing society and that Rushdie had the right to his opinions. Ziauddin's stance indicates his belief in ijtihad, the spirit of inquiry that characterized classical Islamic intellectual discourse in the 10th and 11th centuries. Ziauddin deeply believes that Islam is strong enough to accommodate such a tradition and that ijtihad should be part of a free, modern society.

"Though we loved school, we hadn't realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us. Going to school, reading and doing our homework wasn't just a way of passing time, it was our future.”

In this quote, Malala recognizes the role education plays: in a healthy, vibrant society, freedom of expression is a recognized...

(The entire section is 641 words.)