Shooting Malala – again

Published: November 3, 2013

Though Malala survived the Taliban’s bullets last year, she is now again under attack in Pakistan by the very same ideology. They attacked her physically then, and now they are out to get her soul.

Right-wing anchors and self-proclaimed intellectuals have taken to disrepute her book by claiming that it reeks of a ‘Western agenda’. If a young Pakistani girl in dupatta, standing up for education and speaking against radicalisation, demanding an end to the drone war, advocating peaceful resolution to the terrorist menace which Pakistan is plagued with and speaking of hope in a progressive Pakistan, is what constitutes a ‘Western agenda’, then I’d welcome more of it.

Ansar Abbasi and Orya Maqbool Jaan have been at the forefront of the offensive. Here is what they vociferously present as a ‘Western agenda’.

Malala and Salman Rushdie

Malala writes in her book regarding the Satanic Verses,

‘My father also saw the book as offensive to Islam but believes strongly in freedom of speech. “First, let’s read the book and then why not respond with our own book,” he suggested. He ended by asking in a thundering voice my grandfather would have been proud of, “Is Islam such a weak religion that it cannot tolerate a book written against it? Not my Islam!”’

All Muslims – including Malala and her father – found Rushdie’s novel offensive. However, instead of the widespread violence that ensued across parts of the Muslim world in which Muslims, ironically, lost their lives, Malala’s father believed Rushdie’s offensive novel should be responded to in the form of a literary rejoinder like this one. There are many Muslims who share the same opinion on responding to blasphemous publications. Not all Muslims share the knee-jerk “kill the blasphemer” reflex.

Saying that Malala was not against Rushdie’s Satanic verses is clearly either a case of intellectual dishonesty or dire lack of English comprehension skills on the part of the Oryas and Abbasis.

Malala’s love for the Ahmadis

Malala writes in her book,

‘Now we are a country of 180 million and more than 96 per cent are Muslim. We also have around two million Christians and more than two million Ahmadis, who say they are Muslims though our government says they are not. Sadly those minority communities are often attacked.’

Malala merely stated a fact. Ahmadis do consider themselves Muslim. And the government does deny them this right to identity. Malala did not comment on her view on Ahmadi religious beliefs.

However, even if Malala did consider Ahmadis as Muslims, how does that discredit her work or make her a lesser Pakistani? Millions of other Pakistanis – including its very founder – consider Ahmadis Muslim and believe the anti-Ahmadi laws of Pakistan are demonic and oppressive. Jinnah is known to have said,

‘What right have I to declare a person non-Muslim, when he claims to be a Muslim.’ a book written against it?’  (23rd May, 1944)

If Jinnah was alive today, how would Pakistan’s rightist pro-Talibani anchors and journalists treat him on television? He’d be harassed and abused for his beliefs and considered a traitor in his own country.

Yes, Pakistan’s constitution says Ahmadis are non-Muslim. As per Abbasi’s admission in the same program, the constitution also prescribes Arabic as a mandatory language. Now, would there be a similar witch-hunt against those who refuse to learn Arabic in schools? A majority of us don’t.

Would there be a similar witch-hunt against the Taliban and other radical outfits who outrightly and openly refuse to accept the Constitution of Pakistan? Would all the Oryas and Abbasis out there write columns against the Laskhar Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sippa Sahaba (SSP) as well, for leading an open slaughter of minorities across the country and violating Pakistan’s constitutional guarantee to freedom of life, speech and religion?

Malala and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

The Oryas lament that Malala did not write “pbuh” after Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) name.

Writer Bina Shah explains this well on her online blog:

‘It is work of copy-editors and proofreaders to insert or remove that phrase or acronym, and if you know anything about the process of getting a book ready for publication at a large publishing house, you’d know that they prepare a style sheet that they use as a guide to make sure there is consistency with names, phrases, capitalisation of words, etc. Someone in the editing process probably decided that it would be simpler and easier for non-Muslim readers to see “the Prophet” without the PBUH added every time. This is a decision made based on the expected readership of the book, and while it may not be au courant with what we do in the Muslim world, it is ridiculous to blame this on Malala. Once a book enters the stage of proofs and production, it is out of the author’s hands.’

Bina adds,

‘If you’re so worried about that, I urge you to say “salallau alehi wasalam” every time you see the word “Prophet” in Malala’s book (which really isn’t more than a handful of times), and indeed every time you hear it, such as when it is recited in the Azaan (call to prayer) five times a day.’

Ameer Ali Syed, well known Islamic writer and listed in the top 100 great Muslim leaders of the twentieth century under the category of ulema and jurists, authored the famous book on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – The Spirit of Islam. He has also left out the repeated mention of “pbuh” in his book. Is he also to be reprimanded?

The right-wing press has issues with no “pbuh” in Malala’s book but have no objection to the erasing of Muhammad’s (pbuh) name from Ahmadi mosques and buildings.

Malala and Jinnah

The Oryas and Abbasis are angry that Malala did not use the term “Quaid-e-Azam” for the founder of the nation. As explained above, the book is intended for a Western audience that does not understand the meaning of Quaid-e-Azam. Note how the biography of Quaid-e-Azam on the Government of Pakistan’s officially endorsed page uses Jinnah instead of “Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah” whenever the founder is mentioned.

Moreover, there are many darlings of the right-wing that have not used “Quaid-e-Azam” with Jinnah’s mention. Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, an Ahrar leader, comes to mind. He appealed to the people not to be misled by the slogans for Pakistan and even referred to Jinnah as Kafir-i-Azam. Maulana Maududi asked Muslims not to vote for Jinnah and called Jinnah an immoral man. Would the Oryas and Abbasis have the moral courage to take on the clerics who had opposed Jinnah and Pakistan?

Malala and the Shias

The rightist pro-Taliban apologists demonstrate their lack of English comprehension skills over and again.

Malala writes in her book,

‘Every year Shias commemorate the killing of the Prophet’s grandson Hussein Ibn Ali at the battle of Karbala in the year 680 with a festival called Muharram.’

She then writes,

‘Our own founder, Jinnah, was a Shia.’

The Oryas and Abbasis object to the use of the word ‘festival’ for Muharram, claiming a festival is a joyous celebration or ‘mela’ in Urdu. Perhaps mandatory Arabic schooling would have been a better idea for them. Their English vocabulary is definitely not their forte. Here is a picture from Wikipedia’s main article on Muharram.

Since the objection is that the Shias are hurt by use of the word ‘festival’, I ask the Oryas and Abbasis why they are never hurt when the Shias are slaughtered in Hazara and other parts of the country at the hands of those they openly protect and who’s ideology they represent, namely the LeJ, the SSP and others like these organisations?

The attack on Malala’s book is based on hypocrisy, lies, deception and jealousy. It is based on phobia and a threat that a voice of sanity is overpowering the conventional narrative of the right-wing majority in Pakistan. The truth is being spoken out loud.

If the Oryas and Abbasis really love Pakistan, its Constitution and its people, they must start a fight against radicalisation and extremism in Pakistan. Otherwise, they will be remembered as hypocrites.

As for Malala, she survived the first attack. She will survive again!


Kashif Chaudhry

A graduate of King Edward Medical University, Lahore and Mt Sinai University Hospital in New York, Kashif is currently completing his Cardiology fellowship in Boston, USA. He writes for various American newspapers and Pakistani publications and blogs at the Huffington Post. His interests include medicine, human rights and interfaith dialogue. He tweets @KashifMD (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Living in Amsterdam

    Very well articulated blog.

    These so-called ‘intellectual’ are dunces that do not realize what their talking about. They seem incapable of contemplation or logical thoughts, only capable of shouting catch phrases(‘Malala is a conspiracy of the West’) as simpletons. Otherwise I cannot explain the TV appearances that I saw Malala on several Western talk shows. Just yesterday I saw her on a Dutch quality programme, where she proudly announced she is a Muslim, and her struggle for rights and education is inspired by Islam. What is anti-Islamic about that? For those who are interested, here a link (it is in English, into is in Dutch):

    Tell me, does she sound like an agent of the West (whatever that maybe)?Recommend

  • charanjeet maan

    A typical case of witch-hunting by extremists,mostly without reading the book.Their agenda was to find fault ,and imagine a fault where there was none. They know they have ready constituency.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Excellent article. as for Ansar Abbasi he never condemned any attacks on shias. Infact after the Quetta bombings instead of condemning he said it was a reaction to the beliefs of the victims. He belongs to the same school of thought that the Taliban belong to and it is a fact that he and the so-called ulemas of his sect are either silent or approving of their acts. The sectarian situation in this country is worsening day by day. I’m amazed at the sheer drivel people have against shias. This is further exacerbated by spreading of false conspiracy theories in print and especially on the internet. There are anti-shia videos, sites and facebook pages on the internet. They are what are really destroying our country’s youth not the non-existent debauchery and pornography that Ansar Abbasi sees elsewhere.Recommend

  • Annie

    First of all, Malala is not under attack the book is. Second, Malala is not the sole writer of the book. Maybe Christina Lamb should be given some credit here as well. She is the co-writer/contributor after all. Third, criticizing Malala’s book, or disagreeing with it, is not illegal. In fact, it’s called the freedom of expression. So, relax people. If you want Pakistan to progress then don’t make anybody a sacred cow, because at the end of the day we are all humans and prone to making bad decisions as well as judgments. What is Malala’s authority anyway? How can she pass comments and statements on such serious issues as religion and politics? Greater scholars than her are not taken seriously sometimes when their views clash with our own. She is not a scholar. She is just a high school girl. Granted she stood up for her education, but so would many of us too and already do on many issues that are important to us.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Excellent article.Recommend

  • idk

    The matter of the fact, This book is not written by Malala herself. but her father, by “someone” else. And the book was just given the name “I’m Malala” I’m just sad how she’s being played all around. a 14 year old little girl, truly has no knowledge of what’s wrong with this world. Or get dragged out into this matter. Said by Malala herself, She didn’t know where she was after waking up from the shot and didn’t know where “Birmingham” was. A girl that doesn’t know where is Birmingham can write about the politicians long ago her time? That’s sad. Totally sad how shes being played out…Recommend

  • Hasan

    Great points! All these points were in my head already but scattered. Now they are organised, thanks, I am now ready to take on the Oryas in debates! :)Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Lets say that if a person who believes that Jesus(as) is the son of God and says i’m a muslim, should we not call him a non-muslim?. They should be declared non-muslims. Just like that so should the Ahmadis be. If they think they are muslims then lets wait for God to decide. Which most probably won’t be in this world. Anyone can’t just get up and say they are muslims and start propogating it.

    Malala just like everyone thinks that she can also talk about religion. Why does everyone think that? I just don’t get it.

    Stop quoting Wikipedia. Not everything they have over there is true. It’s written over there that Sufism is a separate sect of Islam. Everyone who has studied Islam and knows anything about sufism knows that its not.

    finally, If he was a shia we do no love him because of that. We honor him for being the father of the nation. Even shias love and honour him because of that.Recommend

  • Guest

    not once on the show did these guys say anything wrong about malala let alone attack a poor child or distort her whole message, these guys being jealous from sound a bit far fetched unless in your hate for these guys you would come up with assumptions of your own,,,,,,Recommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    Malala is becoming an American agent with Jewish objectivesRecommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent, point by point rebuttal of the allegations made.
    Its quite apparent that both Orya and Ansar are rabid mischief mongers used by self serving TV hosts to drum up a controversy to appeal to a simplistic mind. In the process not caring for the harm that is being done.Recommend

  • Taha Shaheen

    Oh no ! He’s onto us!Recommend

  • bigsaf

    I’m so glad you touched on this point adding to the author’s already brilliant points above.

    It really is incredible how disconnected and hypocritical they are, acting as if they’re doing the Shia minority a favour raising this point, as if they’re speaking for them, when they are so pro-Taliban, excusing and condoning anti-Shia bigotry, sectarianism and extremism. Just twisted mindsets and warped priorities.

    It is not Malala whose un-Islamic or un-Pakistani for mistranslating religious processions in English, but these Taliban supporters who justify the sectarian terrorists massacring innocents in such religious processions, apart for every other criminal terrorist attacks.Recommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    Yes, This is what her book will do this for us.Recommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    Why people are wasting time on Malala now, see facebook no pakistani want to talk about her.Recommend

  • qhn

    And you are still talking about her :D

    there is something in her that pulls people’s attraction towards her, something evil or jewish, rite?Recommend

  • Omaidus Malik

    You said about Ahmadis “If they think they are muslims then lets wait for God to decide” but negating your own statement then you said ” Anyone can’t just get up and say they are muslims”. The answer lies here, no one has the right to call anyone non-muslim. Its Allah to decide who is muslim or who not.Recommend

  • pro-Malala

    Malala is a PEARL of humanity. Those extremist people making those ugly comments recognize their own shortcomings and hide it under a pile of nasty words. Go Malala.Recommend

  • pro-Malala

    It is so easy to pass judgements from behind your computer about people who are actually trying to achieve something.

    As far as I know you’ve done nothing worth mentioning for the betterment of the world, so I advice you to pipe it down.Recommend

  • pro-Malala

    Of course it is too confronting for you that a 16 year old girl has so much more wisdom that you just come off so badly. I would make her a Jew too, if i was in your place. She is way smarter.Recommend

  • saf

    Don’t understand what you’ve let loose!!! I am sure you have no clue either. A load of meaningless garbage!!!Recommend

  • 123xyz

    would you live in swat and stood against taliban without fear??

    i can only laugh at you.Recommend

  • 123xyz

    she told the story and ‘someone’ else wrote it in english.
    people use ghost writers for that.

    did u know this?? go home kid.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    ET, after some edits I’m reposting my previous comment, please let it through. Its relevant under such a great article which touches on important issues and a need to introspect on our ethics, values and rationale.

    Well laid out by the author. There is a global ideological crisis. Canada in a security assessment lists its number one domestic and foreign threat to itself as religo-political extremism. The right-wing Oryas and Abbasis highlight the intellectually bankruptcy and prejudiced narrative that has cultivated a negative influence in our society where moderates and intellectuals are now a minority.

    It’ll be quite difficult to undo certain twisted superstitious attitudes, irrational emotional motivations, backward ignorance, double standards and hateful radicalization.Recommend

  • Unknown

    Moderators where are my comments?Recommend

  • Ahmad

    very well written indeed. But i really wish that such articles/blogs find publishing place in our Urdu press as well.Recommend

  • Ziauddin Yousafzai

    What can I say more….simply saying. God bless you!Recommend

  • Bin Ismail

    The mistake of allowing Religion into politics, committed sixty five years ago, by the adoption of the Objectives Resolution, is bearing its fruit.Recommend

  • Bilal

    MashAllah very well written article, May our God save Pakistan from such bigots. AmenRecommend

  • Aamir

    Beautifully written piece. I absolutely loved it. Malala is Pakistan’s pride. Orya and Ansars just represent the cancer in our society. They are the spokespersons of everything that is wrong with Pakistan. Even if these things they pointed out were to be corrected, these insects would still find something for mudslinging. I say to hell with them and lets just love our Malala, the beautiful soul. God bless her.Recommend

  • gp65

    Malala did not offer her opinion about status of Ahmadis. She said government calls them non-Muslims and left it at that. She then said their rights should be protected. What is unreasonable about that?

    Incidentally, Jinnah had gone one step further and said that if they considered themselves Muslims they were in May 1944. Recommend

  • gp65

    Extremely well articulated. I had read and loved the book and was horrified when I saw that show because it seems to me that by trying to represent her as a blasphemy supporter, putting her life at riskRecommend

  • Kashif Chaudhry

    Salam and thanks for your comment and your prayers Ziauddin Sahib. Extend my heartiest Salams to our little sister, Malala. She is an inspiration for all of us. Love you and your family. May sanity prevail in our dear Pakistan.


  • bigsaf

    > Canada in a security assessment lists its number one domestic and foreign threat to itself as religo-political extremism.

    Sorry, ET mod, but this unfortunate censorship of the named ideologies and usual sectarian taboo and biased majority privilege does a great disservice for raising awareness in identifying the problem, moving the discussion and in introspecting the ideological crisis that Pak is facing, as well as seen globally. I would like this objection posted.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Its extremist mindsets that are loose. And you’re wrong. Clearly some saner Pakistani minds have analyzed enough clues about the ideological crisis and bigoted mindsets within the Pak mainstream, as Talha above has accurately and descriptively observed and noted.

    If it’s ‘meaningless garbage’, why do you come off defensive about the reality of sectarian prejudices by religious hypocrites? But since you’re freaked out that we’ve let loose of something, I’m sure you’re not clueless either. You’re just too scared to admit it or want to remain in denial to avoid discussing or introspecting a serious problem in our collective biases.

    Rather than making a drive by troll attack, please be clear to what points you’re objecting to specifically. We should expect better critical thinking arguments or debate from our educators.Recommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    Oh now I understand commentators are also come from U.S. to support their agenda, They’re keep supporting Malala here, They have to read what Malala said about Islam, Pakistan, and Our founder of Pakistan, then they should shut up if they are really Pakistani and MuslimRecommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    Just for you…Recommend

  • Behram Qazi

    Brilliant pieceRecommend

  • Muhammad Tayyab Rana

    123xyz reveal your name, this blogpost is supported by american commentators…Recommend

  • hate you malala

    i agree 101%Recommend

  • Unknown

    moderators are too biased towards “Malala campaign”, they are deliberately deleting my comments. :) Moderators, author and malala strongly believes in Rushdees freedom of speech but for our comment they don’t believe in Freedom of speech and delete our comments. Extreme HypocracyRecommend

  • Annie

    Yes I would if I really believe in it. Don’t ever underestimate the power of desperation. People kill and get killed on daily basis. You can laugh. Recommend

  • Babar

    Criticising Malala’s book is not illegal. But at least make valid and logical arguments!!! Malala and coauthors have made very sound arguments. You can criticize all you want but I do not have to agree with your illogical statements. I wish there were more Malalas in Pakistan then Annies!!!!Recommend

  • Angel of Darkness

    Recently, yasir pirzada has written very enlighting columns in urdu.Recommend

  • Annie

    Look at the literacy level in Pakistan. You think there are not girls out there who want to study, go to school. The problem is people like you who only pay attention to someone as long as they are in front of your eyes. Besides if you agree with Malala’s logical arguments,(if they are Malala’s in the first place) then you don’t know logic or ethics even if they bit you. You don’t have to wish for more Malala’s. Check the arguments on this page. Including you, they already are more than me. But, that’s the pity.Recommend

  • UrFool

    123xyz How did you know that? Were you there watching while all this was happening? He’s already proved his point by letting you know the the “Facts” a girl that doesn’t know where is Birmingham Can write about the matters way above her age and education? You do know She’s still just a School Girl? That was educated in the area of Swat…. Where they have the most weak Education, Even in cities like Karachi they don’t have that much good Education. how come in a city like Swat??? Recommend

  • jerry bush

    why do people think Malala is a heroine what about the innocent children being raped and killed every day in Pakistan and Syria . Where was usa and uk for them. Why highlight Malala . Its to degrade Islam. america and uk is killing children in Pakistan with drones every week and all of a sudden they help Malala?Recommend

  • jerry bush

    What makes her a pearl? what about the children raped and killed by drones every week by usa ans uk ? are those children not pearls? malala is just a way of making usa and uk look good and Islam bad, save one but at the same time kill hundreds.Recommend