Malala Yousafzai has become famous for her fight for women’s education, her courage in the face of threats, and her recovery after a shocking gun attack. Her story has inspired many.
And she can teach christians a thing or too.
Malala’s story in a nutshell
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably familiar with her story. Living in turbulent Pakistan, her school teacher father instilled a love of learning in her. When the Taliban began threatening women or girls who went to school, Malala bravely spoke out all the more, locally and on national TV.
Her school bus was ambushed and Malala was shot in the head. An emergency operation in Pakistan, then follow-up surgery in the UK saved her life and restored her face. With the family now all living in the UK, Malala has become something of a celebrity, speaking at the UN and on TV, writing a book, and receiving recognition and honour.
“A child shall lead them”
When Malala appeared on the Daily Show in the US, interviewer Jon Stewart appeared to be shocked and amazed when Malala said she had decided, after some consideration, that she would not use violence even if threatened by a Talib, because then there would be no difference between them.
What would Jesus do?
Non violence, forgiveness and love for enemies are core teachings of Jesus (see Matt 26:52, 18:21-35, 5:39-44). Christians pay lip service to these teachings, but how many of us really believe in them enough to act on them?
- How does Jesus want us to respond? Did he mean what he said literally?
- If US christians really believed Jesus here, how many would own guns for the purpose of self defence?
- If George W Bush had really believed these teachings, would he have started the “war on terror”?
- Do I really believe these teachings enough to act on them?
I don’t assume I know the answers to these questions, but I think they are worth thinking about.
What would Mohammed do do?
I am no expert in Islam. I searched the web for information, and I found that:
- Mohammed taught a lot about mercy and forgiveness.
- He didn’t seem to have much to say about loving enemies.
- Some of his other teachings are much harsher.
Nevertheless, a Muslim teenager seems to understand something about the character of God that we christians need to learn.