Does Al-Huda have strains of Taliban ideology within its teachings?

Published: December 9, 2015
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For Al-Huda to claim that it has no role in moulding the mind-set of Tashfeen Malik cannot be quite that simple. PHOTO: AFP

Tashfeen Malik, the woman who shot dead 14 innocent people in California, attended Al-Huda International Seminary’s branch in Multan. PHOTO: REUTERS For Al-Huda to claim that it has no role in moulding the mind-set of Tashfeen Malik cannot be quite that simple. PHOTO: AFP

The founder of the Al-Huda Institute, Dr Farhat Hashmi, has said that her institute cannot be held responsible for the acts of her students. The statement came after it was revealed that Tashfeen Malik, the woman who shot dead 14 innocent people in California last week, attended Al-Huda International Seminary’s branch in Multan for two years in 2013 and 2014, and left without completing the diploma course. But class fellows have said that Malik attended Al-Huda between 2007-2013. This is just one of the gaps between the narrative that Al-Huda is giving and what friends of the California shooter have told the media.

What role did any organisation play in the indoctrination of Malik?

The same question can also be asked of Bahauddin Zakariya University where there is no intensive religious education given. For Al-Huda to claim that it has no role in moulding the mind-set of Malik cannot be quite that simple. While Al-Huda rightly cannot be held responsible for the actions of its students or former students, what one needs to understand is that this is no ordinary school, but where women are taught how to change, not only their lifestyle and appearance, but also their very line of thinking with regards to treating other Muslims as well as people of other faiths.

Much like how many of those who belonged to al Qaeda were recovered from houses of people who were allied to the Jamaat-e-Islami party, there are many educated women in Pakistan who have been radicalised by organisations like Al-Huda where students are taught, among other things, that Shias be considered non-Muslims and even within Sunni Muslims, only those who adhere to the Deobandi school of thought are on the right path.

Critics of Al-Huda have said that there are strains of Taliban ideology within their teachings. This is entirely untrue, although the Taliban also follow the Deobandi school of thought and many of its leaders have studied at the Madrassa Haqqania in Akora Khattak and the Newtown Masjid in Karachi.

Al-Huda adherents drastically change once they enrol in the institute’s classes and gradually reject their earlier set of friends as well as their way of life. They shun the companionship of more liberal and moderate Muslims. The same happened in the case of Tashfeen Malik, whose friends at Bahauddin Zakariya University also said that she changed radically once she started attending Al-Huda classes in Multan.

The National Action Plan does not cover organisations like Al-Huda or others which mould the thinking of moderate Muslims and convince them to subscribe to a more puritan form of religion. Perhaps it is time we see how or why institutions such as this have managed to escape scrutiny?

Anonymous

Anonymous

The blogger wishes to remain anonymous.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • C M Naim

    It would have been more helpful if some exact examples of what is taught had been given, for example from the required textbooks on Islam or Social Studies — if thre are such required texts.Recommend

  • Scorpion Forever

    Societies are being increasingly radicalized. In Pakistan as in the US. Her husband was born and brought up in the US and yet did what he did. This seems to be a major aim that has been accomplished from the radicals point of view. This has now become a self-sustaining chain reaction. And there does not seem to be a mechanism to check its ever-increasing intensity. Lone-wolf attacks like this and others will prompt many to follow suit and contribute to the so-called ‘Jihad’.Recommend

  • Rd px

    I think we should ban these institutes in Pakistan. There is no doubt that these institutes while openly condemning violence, inculcate a false sense of superiority and a dislike for others which makes convenient breeding ground for prejudices and ultimately at some stage violenceRecommend

  • Parvez

    Well said……..and I can understand why you wish to stay anonymous.
    The politicians body language at the time of the creation of NAP was……look busy, but do nothing and over a year down the road that was been proved true.Recommend

  • wb

    “where women are taught how to change, not only their lifestyle and
    appearance, but also their very line of thinking with regards to
    treating other Muslims as well as people of other faiths.”

    That’s a spurious argument. What you’re talking has got nothing to do with Al Huda. It is the very character of Islam.

    If a woman converts to Islam today, isn’t she taught how to dress differently, speak differently, behave differently by the very friends and family members? Isn’t she taught how she should be different with fellow Muslims and non-Muslims? Isn’t she taught how some sects of Islam are true and superior, while others are false and inferior? Isn’t she made to change the very mindset about god, life, universe?

    So, what you’re saying is that seminaries teach only what the religion teaches. So, why blame Al Huda?Recommend

  • Ravian

    Islam does not inspire people to violence, but extremists can get a lot of inspiration from Islam….. or from any other ideology/religion for that matter. Budhism is considered the most non-violent religion in the world but Budhist monks were seen butchering rohingyas in Myanmar. Budhism did not inspire violence, but there were other reasons, and monks got involved too. We cannot blame Budhism for violence.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    your argument is irrelevant as your knowledge on religion is biased.. it is like this you on the extreme left just like mullahs on extreme right …. Seek Balance …Recommend

  • Orakzai

    Arguments like this is like saying that reading Marx leads one to become a Baloch terrorist. Why no NAP action against book stalls? Ban western secularist books and organizations?

    p.s. people no longer clamor to fit into orientalist definitions of “liberal” and “moderate” muslims.Recommend

  • wb

    My knowledge on religion is much deeper than most Mullahs.Recommend

  • Hassan Wali

    Some “anonymous” acts also leads to terrorism. National Action Plan must look into it too!Recommend

  • Karachiite

    I know many students from Al huda and they are perfectly moderate muslims.
    They teach pure islamic principals without any extremist ideas. The author has no knowledge of their teachings and is spreading misconceptionsRecommend

  • mrs.faraz

    Wb is absolutely right. Islam teaches a women to be modest humble polite honest. Definitely someone who been partying all life after reading the quran would like to spend more time in prayers. So there will be a change in lifestyle.Recommend

  • Brutus

    I only wish Tashfeen Malik been partying all her life, 14 innocent people would’ve been alive today.Recommend

  • Aftab

    This “anonymous” writer clearly does not know what they are talking about. This is revealed by their statement that alHuda students are taught that “within Sunni Muslims, only those who adhere to the Deobandi school of thought are on the right path.” AlHuda follows the Saudi Salafi Wahabi school of Sunnism, and alHuda students, and especially teachers and founders, are extremely against Deobandis and Hanafis and Sufis. Rather what is taught is that at alHuda is: within Sunni Muslims, only those who adhere to the Salafi/Ahl al-hadith/Wahabi school of thought are on the right path. Such a big mistake of attributing alHuda to being Deobandi instead of what it is, Salafi, and then trying to draw in other organizations under this Deobandi thread, makes it clear that the blogger does not know anything about alHuda, but is just trying to fearmonger and create animosity against all things religious.Recommend

  • Ali

    Hey mrs judgmental bigot, quit assuming all those who convert to islam were just partying before.

    Being “modest humble polite honest” is not limited to Islam. Secular humanism also teaches that.Recommend

  • Ali

    Al Huda wants women to be submissove burka covered housewives.
    Any “islamic” institution teaching that should be banned.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Read some of the books ok’ed by a the secular governments of Pakistan,and you won’t have any trouble accepting what these Islamist people teach.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Would help also if teaches the same thing to men.Recommend

  • siesmann

    The chain will be broken if Mullah is shown his place and people like you really stand against them!!Recommend

  • Mest

    Yeah, party-goers have the lowest crime/murder/assault rate, amirite?Recommend