I Am Malala Quotes from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

I Am Malala

Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of I Am Malala published in 2015.
Prologue Quotes

The man was wearing a peaked cap and had a handkerchief over his nose and mouth as if he had the flu. He looked like a college student. Then he swung himself onto the tailboard at the back and leaned in right over us.
“Who is Malala?” he demanded.
No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face not covered.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ataullah Khan
Related Symbols: Burqa
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

In the prologue to her memoir, Malala paints a startling picture of the day she was shot by a Taliban assassin. The man stops Malala's school bus and marches inside, asking for Malala. Although Malala… (183 more words in this explanation)

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Chapter 1 Quotes

For most Pashtuns it’s a gloomy day when a daughter is born.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

From the beginning, Malala makes it clear that women in Pakistan are usually treated as second-class citizens. When a baby is born in the Pashtun community, Malala explains, it's considered bad luck if it's a… (134 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 2 Quotes

School wasn’t the only thing my aunts missed out on. In the morning when my father was given a bowl of cream with his tea, his sisters were given only tea. If there were eggs, they would only be for the boys. When a chicken was slaughtered for dinner, the girls would get the wings and the neck while the luscious breast meat was enjoyed by my father, his brother, and my grandfather. “From early on I could feel I was different from my sisters,” my father says.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai (speaker), Rohul Amin
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Malala gives details about how women are separated from men from an early age: they're even fed differently. Young boys, who supposedly need the extra nutrition to grow into strong, proud warriors… (94 more words in this explanation)

Under Zia’s regime life for women in Pakistan became much more restricted. Jinnah said, “No struggle can succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Mohammed Ali Jinnah (speaker), General Zia ul-Haq
Page Number: 30-31
Explanation and Analysis:

Malala gives a brief account of Pakistani history since World War Two. In the middle of the 20th century, Pakistan was controlled by Muhammed Ali Jinnah, an educated, popular leader who was notable in that… (158 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 3 Quotes

[My father] 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!”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai (speaker), Rohul Amin
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, Malala describes her father's actions during the 1980s, with regard to one of the most infamous events of the decade: the fatwah placed on the life of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie, a celebrated… (204 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 5 Quotes

Though I felt bad, I was also relieved it was over. Since that day I have never lied or stolen. Not a single lie nor a single penny, not even those coins my father leaves around the house, which we’re allowed to buy snacks with.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai
Page Number: 71-72
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, Malala makes a claim that seems, on the surface, impossible. She insists that she's never told a lie, and never stolen anything--in short, never done anything wrong. She explains that she was… (85 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 6 Quotes

Some of our religious people saw Osama bin Laden as a hero. In the bazaar you could buy posters of him on a white horse and boxes of sweets with his picture on them. These clerics said 9/11 was revenge on the Americans for what they had been doing to other people round the world, but they ignored the fact that the people in the World Trade Center were innocent and had nothing to do with American policy and that the Holy Quran clearly says it is wrong to kill. Our people see conspiracies behind everything, and many argued that the attack was actually carried out by Jews as an excuse for America to launch a war on the Muslim world. Some of our newspapers printed stories that no Jews went to work at the World Trade Center that day. My father said this was rubbish.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Malala discusses the aftermath of September 11, 2011, when Osama Bin Laden engineered the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. While bin Laden's actions were regarded as war crimes throughout much… (138 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 7 Quotes

I am proud that our country was created as the world’s first Muslim homeland, but we still don’t agree on what this means. The Quran teaches us sabar—patience—but often it feels that we have forgotten the word and think Islam means women sitting at home in purdah or wearing burqas while men do jihad.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Related Symbols: Burqa
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the memoir, Malala offers her own interpretation of Islam. Malala admits that her interpretation is hardly the only one: there are some Muslims who believe that their religion gives them justification to attack American… (148 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 8 Quotes

Mullah from the TNSM preached that the earthquake was a warning from God. If we did not mend our ways and introduce shariat or Islamic law, they shouted in their thundering voices, more severe punishment would come.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

Shortly after September 11, 2001, there is an earthquake in Pakistan. Many Pakistani people--supported by their mullahs, or religious leaders--believed that the earthquake was a sign from Allah, telling Muslims to fight America by any… (107 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 9 Quotes

In the beginning Fazlullah was very wise. He introduced himself as an Islamic reformer and an interpreter of the Quran. My mother is very devout, and to start with she liked Fazlullah. He used his station to encourage people to adopt good habits and abandon practices he said were bad.

Related Characters: Malauna Fazlullah
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Malala describes an important Taliban leader, Malauna Fazlullah. Fazlullah first became prominent in the early 2000s. He painted himself as a moderate: instead of advocating for women wearing burqas and jihadists killing American soldiers, he… (119 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 10 Quotes

We don’t have any option. We are dependent on these mullahs to learn the Quran,” he said. “But you just use him to learn the literal meanings of the words; don’t follow his explanations and interpretations. Only learn what God says. His words are divine messages, which you are free to interpret.”

Related Characters: Ziauddin Yousafzai (speaker), Malala Yousafzai
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Malala's father gives her instructions about how to relate to Islam. The Pakistani people rely on mullahs, holy men, to interpret Islam: mullahs are trained to read the Quran accurately and carefully… (195 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 11 Quotes

It was school that kept me going in those dark days.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In the mid to late 2000s, life is rough in Pakistan. The country has been torn apart by war between American soldiers and Taliban fighters. Entire communities have been destroyed in the crossfire. In these… (109 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 12 Quotes

“They are abusing our religion,” I said in interviews. “How will you accept Islam if I put a gun to your head and say Islam is the true religion? If they want every person in the world to be Muslim why don’t they show themselves to be good Muslims first?”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

As Malala becomes more well-known throughout her country, her message of peace and hope becomes more passionate. In this passage, Malala conducts a series of interviews in which she makes the argument that a true… (120 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 13 Quotes

The Taliban’s deadline was drawing closer: girls had to stop going to school. How could they stop more than 50,000 girls from going to school in the twenty-first century? I kept hoping something would happen and the schools would remain open. But finally the deadline was upon us.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

As the first decade of the 2000s comes to an end, the Taliban issue a threat: all girls must stop going to school or be punished for their supposed defiance of Islamic law. On some… (197 more words in this explanation)

Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Malala offers one of her most powerful arguments foe the importance of education. There are some Muslims--the Taliban leaders, for example--who maintain that education is dangerous for women. Education, it's argued, teaches… (180 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 14 Quotes

A few days later the video was everywhere. A woman filmmaker in Islamabad got hold of it and it was shown on Pakistan TV over and over, and then around the world. People were rightly outraged, but this reaction seemed odd to us as it showed they had no idea of the awful things going on in our valley. I wish their outrage extended to the Taliban’s banning of girls’ education.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

In the city of Islamabad, a woman is savagely beaten for "daring" to buy makeup from a store, and someone manages to capture the horrific incident on video. The video quickly becomes a sensation: for… (195 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 16 Quotes

It seemed like everyone knew I had written the BBC diary. Some thought my father had done it for me but Madam Maryam, our principal, told them, “No. Malala is not just a good speaker but also a good writer.”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Madam Maryam (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we see Malala beginning to take on the role of a spokesperson--a well-known, even famous, figure, whose job is to advocate for her point of view to an audience of millions. Malala… (132 more words in this explanation)

Islamabad was totally different from Swat. It was as different for us as Islamabad is to New York. Shiza introduced us to women who were lawyers and doctors and also activists, which showed us that women could do important jobs yet still keep their culture and traditions. We saw women in the streets without purdah, their heads completely uncovered. I stopped wearing my shawl over my head in some of the meetings, thinking I had become a modern girl.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section of the memoir, Malala travels to the city of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. Islamabad is by far the largest city Malala has ever seen—it’s also one of the most thoroughly “Westernized.” Women in… (127 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 18 Quotes

Aunt Najma was in tears. She had never seen the sea before.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Aunt Najma
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Malala and her family travel to Karachi, a coastal city they’ve never seen before. Astoundingly, Malala’s Aunt Najma has never been to a coastal town before—in fact, she’s never seen the sea… (96 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 19 Quotes

“Go and ask the manager of the White Palace Hotel and he will tell you what these girls did…”
He put down the paper. “It has no signature. Anonymous.”

Related Characters: Ziauddin Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

Malala begins to become a more public figure—she writes editorials in her own name instead of using a pseudonym, and appears across the Middle East to speak out in favor of women’s rights and the… (183 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 23 Quotes

The first two questions my pen wrote were, “Why have I no father?” and “My father has no money. Who will pay for all this?”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Ziauddin Yousafzai
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:

After Malala is attacked by the Taliban, she’s rushed to a series of hospitals. She’s even transported to London, where medical facilities are better. There, she remains in a coma for days. When she eventually… (112 more words in this explanation)

“Too many people in the Muslim world can’t believe a Muslim can do such a thing,” she said. “My mother, for example, would say they can’t be Muslims. Some people call themselves Muslims but their actions are not Islamic.” We talked about how things happen for different reasons, this happened to me, and how education for females not just males is one of our Islamic rights. I was speaking up for my rights as a Muslim woman to be able to go to school.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker), Dr. Fiona Reynolds (speaker)
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

In the hospital in England, Malala forms a fast friendship with her doctor, Fiona Reynolds. The two of them discuss Malala’s crusade for human rights and women’s rights, and Fiona is greatly impressed. Here, Fiona… (150 more words in this explanation)

Chapter 24 Quotes

We humans don’t realize how great God is. He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive loving heart. He has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes which see a world of colors and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, a nose which smells the beauty of fragrance, and two ears to hear the words of love.

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 300-301
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout her memoir, Malala makes it clear that she’s not just an advocate for women’s rights: she’s a pious, practicing Muslim, albeit one who worships Allah in her own way. In this quotation, Malala offers… (190 more words in this explanation)

I was a good girl. In my heart I had only the desire to help people. It wasn’t about the awards or the money. I always prayed to God, “I want to help people and please help me do that.”

Related Characters: Malala Yousafzai (speaker)
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

Malala concludes her memoir with a simple, straightforward evocation of her faith and passion. As a worldwide celebrity, Malala is invited onto talk shows, gets a book deal, etc. There are many who accuse Malala… (178 more words in this explanation)

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