Malalai of Maiwand

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Malalai of Maiwand
Da Maiwand Malalai.jpg
A drawing of Malalai holding Ayub Khan's flag at the battlefield of Maiwand in July 1880
Born 1861
Khig, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Died July 1880 (aged 18–19)
Maiwand, Kandahar province, Afghanistan
Nationality Afghan
Other names Malalai Anna, Malala and Malalai Anna of Maiwand
Ethnicity Pashtun
Known for Battle of Maiwand

Malalai of Maiwand[pronunciation?] (Pashto: د ميوند ملالۍ‎), also known as Malala (Pashto: ملاله‎), or Malalai Anna (Pashto: ملالۍ انا‎, meaning Malalai the "Grandmother") is a national folk hero of Afghanistan who rallied local fighters against the British troops at the 1880 Battle of Maiwand.[1] She fought alongside Ayub Khan and was responsible for the Afghan victory[2] at the Battle of Maiwand on 27 July 1880, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. She is also known as "The Afghan Jeanne D'Arc"[3] and as "The Afghan Molly Pitcher"[4] to the Western world. There are many schools, hospitals, and other institutions named after her in Afghanistan. Her story is told in the Afghan school text books. The Pakistani women's-rights activist Malala Yousafzai and Afghan activist and politician Malalai Joya are named after Malalai of Maiwand.[5]

Early life[edit]

Malalai was born in 1861 at a small village called "Khig", about 3 miles southwest of Maiwand in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.[6] During the late 1880s, for the second time, Afghanistan was occupied by British-Indian forces attempting to colonise the area and annex it with what was then British India (now Pakistan and India). The main garrison of the British was located in Kandahar, which is the closest city to the town of Maiwand. The military of Afghanistan was represented by commander Ayub Khan, son of Afghan Emir Sher Ali Khan. Malalai's father, who was a shepherd, and her fiancé joined with Ayub Khan's army in the large attack on the British-Indian forces in July 1880. Like many Afghan women, Malalai was there to help tend to the wounded and provide water and spare weapons. According to local sources, this was also supposed to be her wedding day.

Legacy and early death[edit]

The famous quote of Malalai of Maiwand; "Young love!, If you don't fall in the battle of Maiwand, By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!"
Afghan military commanders on 2 September 1880, about a month after their victory at the Battle of Maiwand.

When the Afghan army was losing morale, despite their superior numbers, Malalai took the Afghan flag and shouted:

This inspired the Afghan fighters to redouble their efforts. When a lead flag-bearer was killed, Malalai went forward and held up the flag[8][9] (some versions say she used her veil as a flag[10]), singing a landai:

But then Malalai was herself struck down and killed by British troops.[11] However, her words had spurred on her countrymen to victory. After the battle, Malalai was honored for her efforts and buried in her native village of Khig, where her grave remains today. She was between 17-19 at her death.[10] The Pashtun poet Ajmal Khattak wrote the following lines about Malalai:[citation needed]


“When the Maiwand was conquered in the result of huge casualties and sacrifices, and Afghan conquerors were going to bury their martyrs, Ghazi Sardar Muhammad Ayub Khan asked: who is this girl, which caused Afghan Army emotional and courageous in such a sensitive and tender situation by her Landays?, some one replied: she is “Malalai”, the daughter of a shepherd, the resident of Maiwand. Another replied: she is very brave, so she should be buried along with martyrs. Ayub Khan replied: well said. All the Imaams and national soldiers of the holy war prayed, asking her forgiveness from almighty Allah. And then submitted her to soil."[12]

"Her grave lies east of the village of Karez, and locals view it as a shrine."[13]


The girls' school of the Centre d'Enseignement Français en Afghanistan, the French international education complex of Kabul, Afghanistan, is named the Lycée Malala

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Chris; Jolyon Leslie (2004). Afghanistan: the mirage of peace. Zed Books. p. 171. ISBN 1-84277-377-1. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  2. ^ Abdullah Qazi. "Afghan Women's History". Afghanistan Online. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  3. ^ "Ehrungen". Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  4. ^ Garen Ewing. "Maiwand Day: Wargaming the Afghan War". Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  5. ^ Malala Yousafzai; Christina Lamb (8 October 2013). I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban. Orion. ISBN 978-0-297-87093-7. 
  6. ^ Wahid Momand. "Malalai of Maiwand". Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  7. ^ a b Garen Ewing (2005). "Afghan heroine Malalai". Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  8. ^ Najmuddin, Shahzad Z. (2006). Armenia: a Resume: With Notes on Seth's Armenians in India. Trafford Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 1-4120-7916-0. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  9. ^ Siba Shakib. "Battle of Maiwand" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  10. ^ a b Okkenhaug, Inger Marie; Ingvild Flaskerud (2005). Gender, religion and change in the Middle East: two hundred years of history. Berg Publishers. p. 191. ISBN 1-84520-199-X. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  11. ^ Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America's Longest War By Brian Glyn Williams p 109
  12. ^ Abdul Haq Haqmal. August 23, 2008. Malala “Paighla”.
  13. ^ Wagner, Erich. 2012. "The Bones of the British Lying in Maiwand are Lonely." Marine Corps University Journal. Volume 3 (1) Spring 2012. Page 46.

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