Al-Huda mightn't be linked to terrorism, but Farhat Hashmi's misogynistic and Shiaphobic institute is a hub of radicalization

Whenever I heard Farhat Hashmi speak, I did not see a humble person trying to promote peace and unity between all. Instead I saw an arrogant person on a power trip who did not like it when she was treated as anyone less than how she perceived herself

Madame Farhat Hashmi, a PhD in ‘Hadith Sciences’ refers to herself as a feminist but maintains that in a home, the man is the king of the house, is everything, and must be obeyed and there can be no equality. Women must stay at home and remain subservient.  Many a home has broken apart when her students started celebrating misogyny.

29-year-old Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino shooters is believed to have studied long enough at Al-Huda to have been indoctrinated on a certain way of thinking.

For decades now, people have linked madrassas and religious institutions as being the main hub where children, vulnerable people, the poor, the lost, and others have been brainwashed into accepting the extremist violent Jihadi mindset as being the only way to get to heaven. And in turn been denied by a large majority who refused to see any connection between the two.

Lal Masjid has been tied to terrorism time and time again in Pakistan, where the leader Maulana Abdul Aziz has even openly declared his support for ISIS.

And yet he roams free.

The closest anyone ever got to putting a stop to him was at first the then President Pervez Musharraf whose downfall ironically started around about at the same time when he faced a massive backlash.  Then came the voice of the minorities and the fair minded, Jibran Nasir who picketed protests day in day out demanding his arrest.

Instead, he was arrested.

Farhat Hashmi and her husband founded Al-Huda in 1994 as a means to give the correct knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah. She along with her sisters started going to homes and various places giving dars and quickly became very popular with ladies from the upper middle and the rich class.

She taught that it is for a woman to hide herself from a man as he is but a helpless useless animal with no control whatsoever and would jump on a bare shoulder and start gnawing on it like a starving dog on a bone.

Okay, maybe not the words she chose, but the message was clear. It is the woman’s duty to cover herself from head to toe (even face) and it is her burden, not the responsibility of the man, if he were to act on his uncontrollable impulses in the cases where the woman did not cover herself completely.

She refuses to acknowledge rape in marriage to this day because the thought that a woman would refuse her husband is just plain bizarre. As per her quoted hadith, the angels would curse such a woman till morning and surely, what woman would want that! Thus, there is no such thing as marital rape according to her. It is the man’s right. 

Farhat Hashmi does not see Osama bin Laden as a terrorist either but rather as a warrior. And clearly her PhD skipped the actual “science’ part because she stated that 80,000 Pakistanis died in the 2005 earthquake due to immoral activities and them deviating from the right path of Islam. An opinion, popularly shared in Pakistan.

All her students, who you would think after coming closer to God, would become more tolerant and at peace, have always showed the opposite result. They became intolerant, judgmental and arrogant instead.

Remember this, the Al-Huda students are NEVER wrong, even when they are!

It is as if just because she is a woman, they have placed her on this pedestal where she could do/say no wrong. That also is not feminism but obviously Madam Hashmi did not point that out.

I myself have had the (dis)pleasure of attending a few of her dars and the one thing I noted was her irritability when she did not like a particular question or when she was unable to answer it. She instead preferred to shut the person up who was asking the question.

When I heard her speak, I did not see a humble person trying to promote peace and unity between all. Instead I saw an arrogant person on a power trip who did not like it when she was treated as anyone less than how she perceived herself.

Other things which Madame Hashmi is known for is her stance against Shias. She does not see them as good practicing Muslims or depending on her mood, Muslims at all.  To counter her own disdain, she states that it is in fact they who dislike Sunnis.

I quote from the Al-Huda site:

 “Many Sunnis would contend that Shias seem to take the fundamentals of Islam very much for granted, shunting them into the background and dwelling on the martyrdoms of Ali and Hussein. This is best illustrated at Ashura when each evening over a period of ten days the  Shias commemorate the Battle of Karbala, with a wailing Imam whipping the  congregation up into a frenzy of tears and chest beating. It is alleged that  instead of missionary work to non-Muslims, the Shia harbor a deep-seated disdain towards Sunni Islam and prefer to devote their attention to winning over other Muslims to their group.”

Her oppressive views have spread over to branches in the US, UK and Canada as well as schools for little children in those countries. However, the Al-Huda Institute in Canada closed its doors after four Al-Huda students left to support ISIS. Three of them were by chance intercepted by Turkish authorities and sent back to Canada.

And then there is Tashfeen Malik.

There is no real proof to back the theory that Al-Huda brainwashed Tashfeen and others into terrorism but one thing that is for sure is that Madame Hashmi’s institute promotes unhealthy fanaticism and an orthodox manner of thinking.

And that could very well turn one into a cold blooded murderer given just the right push; all in hopes to getting in heaven.

Shamila Ghyas is the author of the Aoife and Demon series. She also writes for Khabaristan Times, The Nation, Express Tribune, Dawn and other publicationsFind her on Twitter and Facebook

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