Saturday, 13 October 2012

Malala Yousafzai, And Why A "Good" Fatwa Is Not Good Enough

Looking at some of the videos of Malala Yousafzai on the web, one is seized with an impotent rage. 

Why should some dreams be so hard to achieve?

This girl wants to be a doctor. You can tell she will make an excellent one. Her spirit shines forth from her eyes. But today, she is herself a patient in the intensive care unit of a hospital, a victim of a twisted philosophy that views her ambitions as somehow immoral.

There has been a lot of popular support for Malala (see photos below), but no one seems willing to condemn the Taliban by name even though they have been brazen enough to claim responsibility for her shooting. "Let this be a lesson", their spokesman said chillingly. If this isn't a moment of truth, I wonder what is.

Candlelight vigil in Karachi...

...and in Lahore. But we can't fight fire with candles.

It's shocking that while many people around the world pray for her recovery, there are others who promise that they will return to finish the job they failed to do this time. To think that people could even think such thoughts or be able to say such things! If my thoughts could kill, the Taliban would be dropping like flies all across their strongholds.

But I would not want the power to kill, whether with my thoughts or otherwise. And that philosophy makes all the difference. I remember the saying that the higher forms of life exist at the mercy of the lower. That's because you have to give up the destructive impulse in order to be a higher form of life in the first place. And that leaves the lower forms of life (the "low-lifes" like the Taliban) with all the destructive power.

The Good Fatwa

50 Pakistani clerics have condemned Malala's shooting as un-Islamic, which I must say is rather courageous of them, under the circumstances. However, as an agnostic, that encouraging statement to me is still a glass half-empty. The shooting was wrong, period, and it doesn't need a religious ruling to stand condemned. The fatwa, however welcome, gives religion altogether too much legitimacy in the realm of ethics. 

[How I long for a rationalistic world! But baby steps...]

And for all his erudition and liberalism, Malala's father made a statement which still disappointed me somewhat: 

"I am a lucky person to whom Allah has blessed Malala as a daughter because not only our Muslim Ummah has prayed for her life but even Christians, Hindus, Sikhs; everyone who came to know about Malala's incident has prayed for her life," Yousafzai said.

Well, Mr. Yousafzai, I would prefer that you begin to see all of us as humanity first and last, rather than classify us by religion. You seem to be amazed that "even" people like us of other faiths (and non-faith) are standing with you and your daughter. I would say you're implicitly joining the Taliban in their opposition to a secular worldview by unnecessarily bringing a religious angle into this. We need the secular worldview. Without it, we're back to being the Ummah and the Kaffir, and you know where that takes us...

To re-quote the Taliban spokesman, let this (the support of the world) be a lesson. We are human beings, and all of us have equal rights - male or female, Muslim or non-Muslim.

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