Farzana Hassan is a Toronto-based free lance writer. In this article she
exposes the latest wave of islamic fundamentalism to hit Canada. This time
it is not the Madrassah trained Mullahs, but a western educated woman who no
man has ever seen.
Farhat Hashmi, the multi-millionaire, well heeled defender if the Taliban
and the Saudi-Iranian style oppression, has started her network among the
upper middle class Pakistani-Canadian women.
Farzana Hassan says, this new immigrant from Pakistan has begun the
"establishment of a mini Saudi Arabia right here in Toronto is well under
Read and reflect.
A New Wave of Fundamentalism hits Canada
By Farzana Hassan
As if the conservative push to uphold faith-based arbitration in Ontario was
not enough of a blow to progress in Canada, another version of Muslim
fundamentalism has recently begun to consolidate its foothold on Canadian
soil, particularly in the greater Toronto area.
Although Dr. Farhat Hashmi is a well-known theologian with a doctorate from
the University of Glasgow, she epitomizes hard-core, doctrinaire orthodoxy--
a world view which appears to be gaining strength as a result of ambitious
funding from certain quasi-governmental organizations in Saudi Arabia and
Farhat Hashmi has come to wield tremendous influence on the hearts, minds
and souls of South Asian Muslim women, some of whom come from avowedly
secular backgrounds. The newest Canadian venture of Hashmi's Al-Huda
foundation involves the launch of a one year diploma program, aimed at
producing female Muslim role models as paragons of virtue and piety in every
Needless to say, this translates into utter subservience, bigotry and
ignorance. Those trapped within such a programmed, brainwashed mentality
refuse to recognize oppression to begin with, and if perchance they do, they
justify it, citing examples of inherent gender differences and male
superiority. Farhat Hasmi is reported to have said that Muslim women should
let their husbands marry a second time so "other sisters can also benefit".
Such pronouncements, zealously endorsed by Al Huda graduates, often find
expression in the form of reprimands and sermons to less enlightened
sisters. As a moral obligation, these pious women assume upon themselves the
responsibility to point out differences between sin and piety, sunnah or
bid'aa, haram or halal.
This list of dos and dont's is expansive to say the least, but the
world-view it generates is as narrow as the confines of the Burqa or
Abaa'ya, which according to Hashmi, must be worn as a commandment from God
because Muslim women are "required to cover all beauty under the teachings
The scenario on the domestic front is entirely different, because such
ephemeral female authority must of necessity be surrendered to the "Divinely
ordained" authority of the husband. A relationship that ought to be built
on love, trust, and mutual respect, is now reduced to a mere master-slave
relationship, where even greeting a non-mahram could warrant disciplinary
action from the husband.
Morality is thus hurled at women from all directions. And while such
selective morality seeks to diminish the very existence of women by
smothering their innocent human urges, it self-righteously allows
despicable practices such as "KaroKari", or crimes such as honor killings
or gang rapes. Such androcentric morality may even justify the high
incidence of these crimes. Why would a woman dress in such a provocative
manner and incite sexual desire in males, some would argue?
Warped as this logic is, it is being condoned in order to preserve the
status co. Although Dr. Hashmi may sympathize with victims of
aforementioned atrocities, she nonetheless endorses the kind of servitude in
women that has for centuries, contributed to their marginalization in
society. Recently, I had occasion to attend one of her discourses on the
role of women in Islam.
An issue raised during the session involved the look after of the wife's
destitute parents, although the husband was not amenable to the idea. Hashmi
promptly quoted verse 4: 34 of the Qur'an, arguing that the wife should
comply to her husband's wishes no matter what, as he was her Divinely
appointed "imam". Never mind the flagrant violation of the broader ethical,
moral and social principles, or the responsibility towards parents, which
the Qur'an enjoins upon men and women alike.
Whether Dr Hashmi's myopic world-view will gain wider acceptance among the
Canadian Muslim community is yet to be seen. What is worrisome however is
that an increasing number of women are flocking towards this well-known,
politically-funded, well-organized theologian, as they are not able to
critique her rationale due to their own lack of knowledge and understanding.
Is this a failure of the moderates and liberals among us? Perhaps.
Meanwhile, the establishment of a mini Saudi Arabia right here in Toronto is
well under way.