Monday, January 5, 2015

We Are All Malala

My 11 year old daughter and I are reading, "I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai, a book by the young Pakastani girl who was shot by the Taliban for attending school. Her story covers the insidious spread of Wahhabism. So subtle that her own educated father, who ran the same school that Malala attended, used to pray every night to die in shahid - fighting the non-believers. 

We must not confuse the two; Islam is not Wahhabism. However, if the wikipedia figures are anything to go by the number of Wahhabis or Salafists in Qatar and the Emirates are quite horrifying at 46% and 44%. Wahhabis consider non-Wahhabists as apostates thus paving the way for their bloodshed . Which is maybe what leads to Wahhabis, who are Sunni Muslims,  massacring even other Muslims - Shia, Sufis and moderate Sunnis - in Syria and Iraq. 

My own husband was almost recruited by Wahhabis/Salafis in Kuwait over forty years ago. They would organise football matches and after the match spend more and more time indoctrinating the young boys with Wahhabism. My husband stopped associating with them. It was not uncommon to hear after 9/11 that the Americans deserved it or it was a conspiracy theory to blame Muslims. Even rumours that the attempted murder of Malala was contrived by the CIA. But personally I think many Muslims know how pervasive Wahhabism has been. Wahhabism's influence is obvious in many of my associates; They do not believe that certain types of non-Sunnis are Muslims. I remember watching the acts of self-flagellation during Ashoura and an associate claiming that those Shia were not Muslims. I was confused and I'm sure those Shia would have contested that claim vehemently. When you read of Ashoura and the Battle of Karbala things become clearer. 

Maybe if the Ibn Sauds hadn't made a pact with ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab in 1744 then Wahhabism would not be a problem in the world today. I hear the Shia mosques in Kuwait (especially in Bneid Al Gar) getting louder and louder and people should consider why.

A poignant poem from "I am Malala" that Malala's father had started to keep in his jacket pocket.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
~ Martin Niemöller 
First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.  
I have no doubt Malala, author and youngest-ever Nobel Peace prize winner, will be back in Pakistan, one day, and my hope is that she will lead the country - as only people who have lived through such adversity, pain, torment and tragedy can do. 
I was in awe of my own daughter's keen interest in the subjects in the book. Her fascination as she waited for me to explain many points in the book. What I do understand is how easily your own views and explanations can impact a young mind. I have a feeling my daughter may end up a politician (or a top loom band bracelet sales person), neither I can take credit for. Whatever she decides on I hope she will have option to do it. My money is on her making her own choices.

I would definitely recommend "I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai. For three reasons; it is a great read, it is inspirational, it will urge you to learn more about the whole subject.

We all see injustice and we all have a voice. How big is your voice? Do you whisper to yourself hoping to never be heard? Or do you stand up and make a difference? 

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