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Eye on the World: Social reform and education in the Middle East

- Eye on the World

Tens of thousands of people across Pakistan and the Middle East demonstrated against the Taliban over the weekend after the group took responsibility for shooting Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old female blogger. The Taliban said they carried out the attack, which also injured two of Yousafzai’s schoolmates, because the teenager was “promoting secularism” through her blog and media appearances talking about life under the Taliban and the ban on girls’ education. Yousafzai, whose condition is stable, was treated in Pakistani hospitals last week and was flown to the United Kingdom on Monday for rehabilitation. Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf denounced the attack, and much of the country has expressed outrage against the Taliban and Islamist militancy.

We can prayerfully join these protests by denouncing violence and evil intentions as no legitimate part of God’s kingdom, and recognizing that God sanctions only those actions and motives that tend toward freedom, honesty, and peace.

What 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai is teaching the world” explores how the young girl’s example can inspire all of us to see God’s work through expressions of love and justice. The author explains, “If [evil] is once seen for what it is, it is universally condemned by the good in our hearts … Has one act of terror shown the impotence of goodness? No. A more spiritual view shows error exposed and the method for its complete destruction made plain. . . ”

Prayer for the little children,” published on, continues this line of reasoning. The author explores how qualities like purity, love, and boldness—which Malala Yousafzai expressed in writing about her experience—are inherent in all children, because they come from God. As we pray, we can cherish these qualities in ourselves and others, and as they come to the fore, limiting conceptions of God and of His creation fall away.

The cause of social justice — and, specifically, education for girls — is something many people across Pakistan and the Middle East truly support, religious extremism notwithstanding. “Defending girls’ education in Afghanistan,” written in 2010, discusses more fully how we can pray to support education, an activity which allows each individual to reflect intelligence and capability as an expression of God, divine Mind. As we affirm that God is continually guiding us to new, fresh thoughts and ideas, we can let these thoughts take root as foundations for progress and stability. 

You’ll also want to read the recent Sentinel editorial, “A light in the dark,” which gently reminds us that no matter what situation we face, no matter how intractable a political or religious conflict seems to be, God’s creation includes only goodness, and we’ll be led to see and express that goodness in proportion to our receptivity to His direction. Our prayers to support justice and freedom in Pakistan will inevitably bless other parts of the world, too, as we recognize God’s control.

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