Dying to Learn: Why Malala Yousafzai’s Cause is a Fard Kifaya for the Worldwide Ummah – Part 1

“We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape.”
(The Noble Qur’an, Sura Al-Hijr, Ayat 26)

“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim…Whoever has a daughter, tutors her on good morals, educates her well and feeds her properly; she will be a protection for him from hell fire.”
–Prophet Muhammed (s)

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”
–Malala Yousafzai on confronting the Taliban

Includes adaption from Genesis of New American Leadership – The Book

It’s a sad state of affairs indeed when a fourteen-year old has to take the lead in cultivating a national climate for educational excellence. Her story hearkens back to a time in our own country when people were literally dying to read. Malala’s story is one of courageous leadership and an important reminder of why in Al-Islam, freedom of speech is fundamental to the protection and progress of the group intellect and by extension, the society.

Fortunately Malala is not all alone in Pakistan as people express their outrage and she herself follows in the footsteps of other heroines like Malalai Joya of Afghanista or the martyr Meena Keshwar Kamal (ra).

There are many social justice elements present in Malalas’s story, but since Malala’s most recent saga comes in the wake of the freedom of speech outrage that stoked protests across the Muslim world and gripped the global news (see the September 19, 2012 blogpost, Freedom of Speech in the Context of Human Relations and the Body Politic), we’re going to focus on freedom of speech because the attempted assassination of a fourteen-year old by cowards was an attempt to silence her.

The assassination attempt is also an assault on the right to freedom of speech we have all been endowed with by our Creator. Malala’s story must be a galvanizing force for leaders at every level of responsibility to improve access to education and institute safeguards to protect freedom of speech.

Leadership’s responsibility for education is inherent in its responsibility to cultivate a climate for organizational  excellence. All leaders (right down to parents), must work to remove obstacles that undermine the value of education. Steps must be taken to reinforce the Divine right and obligation of the individual to educate him and herself.

In studying the Qur’an, the life of Prophet Muhammed (s), and the early Sahaba (ra), we find that Al-Islam bridges the critical link between education and organizational excellence through four functions that cultivate a climate for educational excellence. They are:

1. Attainment, Acquisition, or search (of knowledge).
2. Use of a standard Qualitative Comparison.
3. Dissemination or Exchange of Information.
4. Protection and Valuation.

For this discussion, we will focus on 1 and 4.…To be continued.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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About Mukhtar Muhammad

Mukhtar Muhammad is author of the critically acclaimed Genesis of New American Leadership: A Muslim Commentary...the first socio-political and religious commentary on the tenets of effective leadership based on the principles of Islam, the commentary of contemporary religious scholars and American management philosophy. The recipient of numerous academic, professional, and military achievement awards, the former enlisted & commissioned naval officer is the product of a visionary leadership that recognizes the "Muslim American dream" is deeply rooted in the American Dream of not only "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but also "one nation under G-d indivisible with liberty and justice for all." The company vice president, national speaker and management consultant and national non-profit executive director holds bachelors and masters degrees in four business concentrations including systems management, marketing, business management and human resources development and has served at the highest levels of leadership for the American Muslim Community.
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