Again, Omid Safi taps us on the shoulder with his critical wisdom and wise criticism in the midst of America’s, if not the world’s, collective speechlessness before Malala’s words of wisdom.
In a now viral interview, when Jon Steward asked what she wanted say to those who would come and harm her, Malala gave an answer that, as Safi rightly points out, “is a great testimony to her courage and profound commitment to non-violence.” Meanwhile, there are also people who have been very critical about Malala’s 15 minutes in the United States, claiming that this is nothing but Western’s plot to vilify the Taliban and, by extension, the religion of Islam. This hyper-critical take even goes as far as neglecting Malala’s personal suffering as a victim of a brutal murder attempt and her own insistence on going to school regardless of her social situation.
In the above-linked article, Omid Safi points out how Malala deserves her respect as a very young activist with a “profound commitment” and a remarkable voice of human rights. Of course, that’s not the end of Safi’s argument. He steers the flow of his discussion and takes us to consider what would happen if Malala were a victim of the West instead of Taliban’s. In other words, what if Malala were just one of the victims slain by America’s drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Would we remember her name? Or, to put it more strongly, would we even care about her past existence?
That’s how Omid Safi converses with us. He has his moments of speechlessness like most of us, but then he taps on our shoulder and tell us, “You know what? That kind of reminds me of something. You know that…”