rebelling against low expectations

Malala Yousafzai’s Story: The Day I Was Shot By The Taliban


(Parade) — In a country that’s seen more than its share of violence, the fate of one teenager might not seem to count for much. But somehow Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan has managed to become an international inspiration. She was only 11 when she took on the Taliban, demanding that girls be given full access to school. Her campaign led to a blog for the BBC, a New York Times documentary, and a Pakistani peace prize.


But all that was only a prelude to even more extraordinary events. Last October, Taliban assassins attacked Malala, then 15, on her way home from school, shooting her in the head. Here, in an excerpt from her book, I Am Malala, she describes that day and offers her hopes for the future:

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, wasn’t the best of days to start with, as it was the middle of exams—though as a bookish girl I didn’t mind them as much as some of my classmates did. That morning we arrived in the narrow mud lane off Haji Baba Road in our usual procession of brightly painted rickshaws sputtering diesel fumes, each one crammed with five or six girls. Since the time of the Taliban, our school has had no sign and the ornamented brass door in a white wall gives no hint of what lies beyond.

For us girls, that doorway was like a magical entrance to our own special world. As we skipped through, we cast off our head scarves and ran helter-skelter up the steps. At the top of the steps was an open courtyard with doors to all the classrooms. We dumped our backpacks in our rooms, then gathered for assembly under the sky, our backs to the mountains.

The school was founded by my father before I was born, and on the wall above us, “Khushal School” was painted proudly in red and white letters. We went to school six mornings a week, and as I was in Year 9, my classes were spent chanting chemical equations or studying Urdu grammar, writing stories in English with morals like “Haste makes waste” or drawing diagrams of blood circulation—most of my classmates wanted to be doctors. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would see that as a threat. Yet outside the school lay not only the noise and craziness of Mingora, the main city of the province of Swat, but also those, like the Taliban, who think girls should not go to school.


Because it was exam time, school started at 9 instead of 8 that morning, which was good, as I don’t like getting up and can sleep through the crows of the roosters and the prayer calls of the muezzin.

I slept in the room at the front of our house. The only furniture was a bed and a cabinet that I had bought with the money I’d been given as an award for campaigning for peace in our valley and the right for girls to go to school. On some shelves were the gold-colored plastic cups and trophies I had won for coming first in my class. There were a few times I had not come out on top—both times I was beaten by my class rival, Malka-e-Noor. I was determined it would not happen again.

The school was not far from my home and I used to walk, but since the start of the last year I had been going with other girls in a rickshaw and coming home by bus. It was a journey of five minutes along the stinky stream, past the giant billboard for Dr. Humayun’s Hair Transplant Institute, where we joked that one of our bald male teachers must have gone when he suddenly started to sprout hair. I liked riding the bus because I didn’t get as sweaty as when I walked, and I could chat with my friends and gossip with Usman Ali, the driver, whom we called Bhai Jan, or “brother.” He made us all laugh with his crazy stories.

I had started taking the bus because my mother worried about me walking on my own. We had been getting threats all year. Some were in the newspapers, and some were messages passed on by people. I was more concerned the Taliban would target my father, as he was always speaking out against them. His friend and fellow campaigner Zahid Khan had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers.

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About the author

Malala Yousafzai

was only 11 when she took on the Taliban, demanding that girls be given full access to school. Four years later Taliban assassins attacked Malala on her way home from school, shooting her in the head. She miraculously survived and continues her campaign for education.


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      • I think what Linda is saying is that you have to be first inspired by the “Do Hard Things” book or this website to be a Rebelutionary. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Linda, because I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, that you didn’t say.

        I believe that a Rebelutionary is really any person that just steps up to the plate and lets God use them to do a Hard Thing. Now, if I am wrong on this, Mr. Harris, would you let me know, so I’m not giving wrong information?

        • Hey Trent, I think you nailed it! Thanks for chiming in.

          We certainly do feature stories of young people inspired by Do Hard Things. Our second book, Start Here, is full of those stories and so are our blog archives.

          However, when we feature a published news article (such as this one) written about an outstanding young person, we don’t discriminate based on whether they read our book or not. We’re happy to highlight any young person who is rebelling against low expectations and doing hard things, whether they call themselves a “rebelutionary” or not.

          For that matter, we also occasionally publish stories of historical figures who did hard things — and guess what? They never read our book either. 😉

          The whole point of our message is that young people have been accomplishing amazing things long before our book was written and can continue to shape history for the glory of God whether they openly identify themselves with any book, website, or movement.

          Hope that helps, Trent (and Linda). God bless you both!

          • Thank you, Mr. Harris. That was really helpful for me. I read Do Hard Things, during a study that my youth group was having and it really encouraged me to come outside my comfort zone and Do Hard Things. I’m just sorry I didn’t hear about the Rebelution when it first came out online. Thank you for responding to my question and God bless!

          • Hey Trent, I’m glad our book encouraged you. We’d love to hear more about how you are putting it into practice (whether in big or small ways). Thanks again for your comment!

          • Mr Harris,
            I’m sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had been wrapped up in a few other things and forgot about this. A few of the things that your book has encouraged me to do: 1. Start a Bible Study, about a month ago. 2. Give my testimony to my youth group, fairly soon.
            Now, I know that what I’ve done, is nothing compared to what Malala or many others have done, but I believe that is a start for me.

          • I am with you Trent!;) Thanks so much Brett! You totally have inspired and encouraged me big time in what Alex and you have wrote in your books! God has done some amazing stuff and has used both of you to touch me, so thanks again, Glory to God!;-)

          • Hey Brett a quick question I had is on fighting pride of doing hard things. Do you have any info or some great books on the issue of pride that I could check out? thanks;)

          • Hey Josiah, we’ve addressed that issue some in Start Here, so I might post an excerpt on that topic soon. I’ll also think about what books to recommend and post them as a comment here for you in a few days. I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow so I won’t be able to post till I get home. Thanks for commenting!

          • Hey! How’s the Bible study going?
            I feel funny answering a year-old comment like this… but who cares?

          • It never worked out, unfortunately. One person came the first week, and no one after that. However, it was a good learning experience.

          • Aw, that’s too bad.
            Well, if you’d started the Bible Study you might have never started SOG! Then look what a mess we’d be in… (Seriously, SOG is great!)

        • Sorry for the delay in responding Trent. Brett blocked me so I couldn’t respond til now when I created a new account. U were right in your definition in ur first paragraph. But the second defined a revolutionary, not a rebelitionary. I dont think I’ll be back here after being block for a simple observation. If this wasn’t bogus Brett would welcome inquiries.

          • Hey Linda, I only blocked you after I saw the email you entered was “bite me loser rebelutionaries” — which indicated to me that you weren’t really interested in a productive discussion, but just in being antagonistic. That has always been against our comment policy and always gets a person blocked.

          • “Mr. Harris”… that’s funny now 🙂 When I first came, I felt weird calling him Brett, but everyone else was so I did, too. If I’d been fifteen when I joined, like you were (?) I would have called him Mr. Harris, too.
            The Reb must have been much quieter back then… two comments? That would get so many answers now! 😀

    • do you see how racist was this of you? did you mean to say that if she was Christian she’d get more credit for what she’s doing? this right here, is what’s wrong with this world. DOWNVOTE!

      • Hey Lejla, I realize how what Genesis said must have come across to you, but I think you misunderstood her. Let me try to explain:

        First, Genesis wasn’t saying anything about Malala’s race — only her religion. She wishes Malala were a Christian, not that she had a different skin color. So, I don’t think racism is a valid accusation.

        Second, Genesis wasn’t saying Malala would get more credit as a Christian than as a non-Christian / Muslim / agnostic / etc. I don’t think the point had anything to do with how others would perceive Malala.

        Instead, I think Genesis admires Malala and appreciates what she has accomplished. Genesis wishes Malala was a Christian because as a Christian, Genesis believes all people desperately need Jesus. She wants Malala to know Jesus and believe in Jesus because she loves Malala and wants what is best for her.

        As a Christian as well, I also believe that the best thing I could wish for Malala is that she would know Jesus. And the best thing I could wish for you, Lejla, is that you would know Jesus too. That is a wish motivated by love, not by pride or judgment.

        Does that make sense? Thanks for commenting!

      • Lejla,
        I wasn’t referring to her race whatsoever. I personally do not believe in racism, because we all originated from two people (Adam and Eve). Any hatred for a particular group of people because of how the look is prejudice. I was not showing any prejudice toward Malala. I am proud of her and wish she could know the joy of having Jesus as her friend and savior. Anything I said was said in love, the kind of love from 1 Corinthians 13. (I encourage you to read the passage). I will be praying for you that you can understand God’s love for you.

        • What about despising people just because they believe in another religion and another prophet? Don’t you think that it is prejudice as well? I am a Muslim and I find my strength in God (Allah) and prophet Mohammad, I don’t need to believe in Jesus as my God or the son of God in order to find my inner peace and love for all. How many girls believing in Jesus would be able to recover and stand in front of thousands to speak about such a devastating trauma as Malala’s? I know this might not be published but I just had to say it and be done with it. If God wanted us all to be Christians wasn’t he able to do so? For once and all, love and respect all for what they are and not for their skin colors or religions, that’s what Jesus would have told you to do.

          • Mona Alammar, my last comment didn’t go through, but if you see a double, then it is probably because it actually did go through but I didn’t see it.

            Okay, firstly, I want to say I do understand what you are saying but I do disagree. The reason Christians try so hard to share the good news of Jesus Christ to you is not because we despise you or anything like that, but quite the opposite. We care so much for you, that we want you to be saved.

            Imagine the two of us are in a burning house. And there was only one way out. We both saw it, but I decided not to get out that way. I was convinced that there was another way, which there was not. You pleaded with me to come quickly and take the way out, but I said, “How dare you say that there is only one way out. Why do you disrespect me for not going your way?” But in fact, you don’t disrespect or hate me, if you did, you would have ran out the one way and left me behind. But you cared so much for me to keep trying to convince me to be saved from the fire.

            It’s the same way in real life. We care for you so much that we keep trying to tell you of the way out from sin and into Heaven. Jesus created the way out, and he only created one way out. The question is, will you take his way out or try to find your own and end up being trapped?

            Also, you asked the question, “If God wanted us all to be Christians, wasn’t he able to do so?” The answer is yes, God has the power to make us all Christians. But, God also gave us a wonderful gift: free choice. If God forced us to follow Him, we would all be essentially robots. I’m not asking that you take my or any person’s word for it. The truth can only be found in God’s Holy Bible.

          • Haha. Nope. Actually, it was with a different account under the same name but no picture. You are getting closer, because this is the correct post.

          • Mona,

            I want to make it very clear that I do not despise Malala or you for believing in Allah. I respect your belief and understand why you may believe what you do, I am sorry if you think I am judging you for your skin color or religion. Jesus has called me to love you and not a word I say do I say in hate or to prove you wrong. I wish I could meet you face to face so that you could tell that I really mean this. I didn’t post this three months later because I was scared or mad, but because I needed to put allot of prayer into these words. Please do not feel that I am attacking you by anything that I say. I’d like to answer your first question “How many girls believing in Jesus would be able to recover and stand in front of thousands to speak about such a devastating trauma as Malala’s?” I would say all of them. I may sound absurd. I don’t mean every girl who says she trusts in Jesus, I mean every girl who truly trusts in Jesus with her whole heart and soul could do what Malala did. Your second question was “If God wanted us all to be Christians wasn’t he able to do so?” Now I’m not sure how familiar you are with Christianity, so I’m going to go back to basics, please don’t be offended. In Genesis 1 God created everything and it was very good. All was in harmony with God and everything was perfect, literally heaven on earth. God created two people Adam and Eve, they loved God perfectly, but God didn’t want them to love him because they had to He wanted them to love Him because they wanted to. So He gave them a choice he placed them in a garden and said they could eat of any fruit but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve chose the tree over God, because God is perfect he had to cast them out of the garden, but he didn’t leave it at that. A few thousand years later God sent his perfect son Jesus to earth to die on a wooden cross so that everyone on earth could go to heaven to be with him forever. They only had to do one thing, trust in him and believe that he die on a cross to save them from their sin and that he rose from the grave on the third day. You see God loves us so much that he doesn’t force us to love Him, he lets us choose to love him. I encourage you to read the account in the book of Matthew even if you don’t believe a word I’ve said, just read it and decide for yourself. Please know that I do love and respect you for who you are. I don’t know if you even finished reading this, but if you have read 1 Corinthians 13 that’s the kind of love that I feel for you and Jesus does too.

  • Would u want 2 be in the Mormon hall of fame for doing what many Mormon leaders aspire 2 do for the youth of today? I just feel like u are taking credit for things u have no part in. Rebelitionaries sail around the world and talk about slavery in front of crowds and keep their rooms clean at the age of 16. Revolutionaries find cures 2 cancer and build prosthetic limbs and risk their lives 2 end oppression of women. Rebelitionaries are underacheivers doing normal things. If the rebelition was legit, wouldn’t I be writing these sorts of stories about yourself and ur friends, not primarily strangers?

    • I’m not sure I understand your question about the Mormon Hall of Fame, but I’m happy to respond to the rest of your comment.

      As I explained to Trent, we don’t take credit for every awesome thing any young person in the world does — but we do feature these stories because they demonstrate the point of our message (i.e. that young people are far more capable than society expects).

      Ultimately, it is irrelevant whether a young person reads our book first and then does something hard for the glory of God or never reads our book and does something hard for the glory of God. The important thing is that young people step outside their comfort zone and obey God, no matter whether that means seeking a cure for cancer or keeping their room clean or both.

      If posting stories like Malala’s can help inspire one young person to take a stand for oppression against women or some other important issue, then it was worth it. We certainly didn’t think anyone would come away with the impression that we took credit for Malala’s accomplishments.

      I hope this helps!

    • Hey Linda, as I explained below, I only blocked you after I saw the email address you entered with your first comment (i.e. “bite me loser rebelutionaries”) which indicated that you weren’t actually interested in a productive conversation, but just in being antagonistic. That has always been against our comment policy and always gets a person blocked. Negative comments are welcome, but not if it becomes clear that the person is just being negative for the sake of being negative.

  • hi………I know this is not on subject…..but I just want to talk to brett about making a web-site.sorry don’t mean to bug u but I would like to start asap!!!!if u could let me know some helpful tips that would be great!!!!!I would love to talk with u

  • Malala can inspire so many students to raise up their voice and fight for the right because education is more important than doing some whatever….but how big the problem is just keep fighting for your right….and from the last you can reach your dreams…..Thanks….

  • Malala Yousafzai. You are a very inspiring person. Most people who go through something half as bad as you did would not openly speak about it. I read an Upfront journal article about you and I had to cite the work. I could not believe how someone around my age is that brave. The countries that still use segregation of people need to realize that women are just as important as men and can take care of themselves. Saying this men should still have Common Courtesy and respect by opening doors for women and helping in the small ways.

By Malala Yousafzai
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →