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Seattle Times: The Al-Huda chain of Islamic schools across Pakistan is growing rapidly and gaining popularity among the many women who attend classes there. It was started by a woman and offers structured curriculum to its many students. However, critics complain that Al-Huda is silent on subjects such as violence against women, attacks on non-Muslims or Islamist terrorism wrecking the country.
"The Al-Huda chain of Islamic schools across Pakistan was founded by Farhat Hashmi in her home with a small group of students in the early 1990s. Now it caters to women and girls in Pakistan and in elsewhere, including the U.S. and Canada, where Hashmi now lives. Al-Huda is distinct in several ways from other groups in Pakistan offering classes on Islam.
It offers a structured curriculum and a range of programs, a strong brand name and administration, and it was conceived and run by women from the start, instead of being a branch of a male-dominated institution. At its main campus in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, women wearing uniforms of head scarves and long robes sit in rows and take notes as teachers lead lessons on the meaning of the Quran. Children scamper through the multistory facility. There's a library, concession stands, a range of pamphlets, books and audiotapes and even an 80-year-old member who acts as a therapist of sorts. Women can sign up for full-fledged diploma courses, taught in Urdu and English, or they can be "listeners," just stopping by now and then. Schedules are flexible to attract working women, housewives and the young. Students can live on campus, and a bigger facility is being built on the edge of Islamabad.