Well, isn’t this comforting?
Tashfeen Malik, who went on a deadly shooting spree in California with her husband last week, studied after college at a conservative Islamic religious school here that attracts relatively well-educated and affluent women.
Officials at the Al-Huda International school said Ms. Malik took classes on the Quran for about a year until May 2014—two months before she moved to the U.S. and married a Pakistani-American man, Syed Rizwan Farook.
Earlier reports suggested she had left Pakistan after completing a university degree here in 2012. Some of her college friends said she hadn’t told them she attended classes at Al-Huda.
Al-Huda was founded in 1994 in Islamabad by a Pakistani woman, Farhat Hashmi, and now has branches around the world, including in the U.S. and Canada, according to the school.
Spokeswoman Farrukh Choudhry described Ms. Malik—who was born in a Pakistani family but grew up in Saudi Arabia—as “very loving and very obedient” while at the school. “No one would have thought that she could do something like this,” she said.
Classmates and university professors described her as traditional, but not extreme.
In a statement Monday, the school said “we cannot be held responsible for personal acts of any of our students.” It said Al-Huda promotes a “peaceful message of Islam and denounces extremism, violence and acts of terrorism.”
They would never lie to us, thankfully. The founder, meanwhile, currently resides in Canada.
The woman who carried out last week’s mass shooting in California with her husband had attended an Islamic religious school, or madrassa, while living in Pakistan, intelligence officials and the school said Monday.
Few details have emerged about Tashfeen Malik’s life in Pakistan, where she lived from 2007 to 2014 before heading to the United States on a fiancee visa. Malik studied pharmacy at the Bahauddin Zakariya University in the central city of Multan, where she got a degree in 2013.
She also took classes at the Multan branch of Al-Huda International Seminary, a women-only madrassa with branches across Pakistan and in the U.S. and Canada. The school has no known links to extremists, and in Pakistan it is popular among upper-middle class and urban women.
The Canadian branch is based in Mississauga, Ont., according to the foundation’s website.
Al-Huda’s founder, Farhat Hashmi, has been criticized for promoting a conservative strain of Islam, though the school has no known links to extremists. In Pakistan, it is popular among upper-middle class and urban women interested in Islamic studies.
The region where the school is located, however, is home to thousands of extremist seminaries, with hundreds linked to al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistan, which supports Islamic militants battling archrival India in the disputed region of Kashmir and is widely believed to have ties to insurgents in Afghanistan, has long turned a blind eye to institutions that teach radical interpretations of Islam.
Hashmi apparently arrived illegally in Pakistan, according to this 2006 McLean’s article.
Farhat Hashmi arrived in October 2004 on a visitor’s visa, and has twice been denied the work permit she sought to teach her interpretation of the Koran in Canada. But she has nevertheless established a school where she lectures to mostly young, middle-class women from mainstream Muslim families, not only from across the country but also from the U.S. and as far away as Australia.
Moderate Muslims believe her lessons encourage extremist views among her students in Mississauga — the same Toronto suburb where many of the 17 men arrested last month on terrorism-related charges grew up and allegedly developed into radicals. Some of those young men’s militant views are reputed to have been influenced by their ideologically inclined wives.
But by all means, let’s not put this school on a watch list or anything.
A charismatic figure who cloaks her face and body in orthodox garb, Hashmi amassed considerable wealth in the 1990s by establishing a chain of religious schools across Pakistan.
Focusing her instruction on young Westernized women from monied families who had hitherto preferred a pair of jeans to the hijab, Hashmi became famous converting them to a stricter form of Islam.
Stories abound of young Muslim party girls changing their ways after just a few lectures, donning the black veils that Hashmi is said to make available for purchase at her schools, along with her lectures in print, audio and DVD formats. “Her network of schools in Pakistan caters exclusively to the upper class,” says Tarek Fatah, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “And that is where she is turning women into mothers who are then converting their sons into extremists.”
Perhaps more worrying, Hashmi, who claims to have come to Canada to teach at the request of local Muslims, has been the subject of observation by Pakistani intelligence, a highly placed federal government source told Maclean’s. Although it is not clear what would drive Pakistani authorities to monitor the woman, who holds a doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Glasgow, that investigation and subsequent complaints in this country may have led authorities to deny her permission to work as a teacher in Canada, the source adds.
“We regret to inform you that we are unable to approve your request,” wrote an immigration official in a letter dated Sept. 30, 2005, and addressed to Hashmi and her family. “You are required to leave Canada immediately. Failure to depart Canada may result in enforcement action being initiated against you.”
Yet she’s still in Canada. Hmm. Meanwhile, they have a branch in Texas. Maybe we ought to have a look at this place, but Islamophobia or something.
Here’s a look at Hashmi. She’s exactly what you’d expect:
Update: This report out of Pakistan is very curious.
Sahi further added that one of the close relatives of Tashfeen Malik told him that the latter was posting pro-Islamic State group on social media networks.
“When last time Malik moved United States she said she was going to do something great there,” the journalist quoted a relative saying as.
Then there’s this:
A girl and three young women left Canada to join ISIS in Syria after studying at the Al-Huda Islamic Institute in Mississauga, Ont. — a school whose sister institution in Pakistan is now connected to the mass shooting in California.
It’s unclear exactly when the Canadian students travelled overseas, but sources have confirmed they all left in the last two years after attending the school founded by controversial female Islamic scholar Farhat Hashmi.
Hashmi’s ultra-conservative teachings in lectures and online have faced criticism for promoting an extreme wifely subservience to a husband.
The school’s founder, however, is not a Canadian resident, despite several media reports to the contrary, sources told CBC News. Hashmi has not been in Canada for three years, those sources said.
Hmm. So where is she?