By Najia Humayun
It was another Sunday night. I had just finished studying for a foreboding math exam, and was treating myself with kettle corn from the country fair earlier that day. Lounging in the comforting caress of my recliner, I did not feel particularly thrilled when my mother told me to watch some New York Times documentary about the Taliban making a victim of yet another innocent person. But this girl was not just another victim. Malala Yousafzai was from Pakistan. She was 15. She had a supportive family. She wrote what she felt. She aspired to make a difference in her community. She was — me.
The only thing that sets me apart from Malala is where I was born and raised. In America, I am blessed with education. I am blessed so much with it that I take it for granted and complain about studying for a math exam, rather than being thankful I even have the opportunity to take one. In her blog that she wrote for BBC, Malala wrote that she was upset when her principal made an announcement that winter break was starting without giving a date for when school would start back up. If only this reaction could be compared with my school’s student body reaction to an announcement about the start of winter break. The prolonged cheers and sighs of relief would come as a shock to girls like Malala, for whom going to school is something they must fight for every day.
Any hardworking girl like Malala should have the opportunity to receive an education. What breaks my heart is that girls like her are being denied the right to learn in the name of Islam. I am an Ahmadi Muslim, and I know that The Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said, “Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim man and Muslim woman.” He also said, “If a daughter is born to a person and he brings her up, gives her a good education and trains her in the arts of life, I shall myself stand between him and hell fire.” If these are the direct words of the prophet of Islam, then I do not know what Islam the Taliban are following that teaches them to attempt to murder young girls who are merely trying to learn.
Because of the Taliban, countless young Pakistani girls are being denied education. These girls are future doctors, lawyers, teachers and politicians, that may never come to be.
I am Malala Yousafzai. Munching on kettle corn, sitting on my leather recliner, I am her in another world. Any girl who has ever dreamed to achieve and aspired to learn is Malala Yousafzai. It is an outrage that even a single one should be denied her fundamental right to receive an education. My thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery are with her.
Najia Humayun is a sophomore at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga.