Malala Yousafzai's spirited defence of education for women at the United Nations on Friday is a boost in the arm for those who wish to see the world become a more civilized and therefore more sophisticated place for its inhabitants. The sixteen year-old Pakistani, having been a victim of a vicious Taliban attack, has demonstrated courage of conviction through her recovery and, now, through her UN address. Beyond that, her assertion that she does not hold her assailants in contempt, that indeed she wishes education for the children of the Taliban too, underscores the principles upon which she and boys and girls of her generation can mould their future.
It was more than a conventional speech the young Malala Yousafzai delivered on Friday. It was a simple reassertion of the moral principles upon which people across the world are expected to go through life. Her expression of views is but one more instance of the enlightenment, brought on by education, that has always been advocated by Islam. That Islam advocates a world of equality between men and women, that it holds women in great esteem, that it has absolute faith in education being a weapon to ward off ignorance is the message which comes from the teenager.
Terrorism militates against religion. And those who believe that terrorism furthers the cause of Islam are essentially undermining, not to say humiliating, the faith. Islam eschews narrowness and condemns parochialism in any form. Malala Yousafzai spoke in that spirit. She has spoken as a true Muslim and as a citizen of the world. Those who tried to murder her are yet to emerge from their caves into light and beauty.