Tashfeen Malik, Al Huda, Lal Masjid and Pakistan media
By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Islamabad, Pakistan: Tashfeen Malik was raised in Saudi Arabia as she left Pakistan at the age of four when his engineer father got a job in Middle East in 1989. She came back to Pakistan to finish her higher education in pharmacy from Multan and stayed in University from 2007 to 2012. According to relatives of Tashfeen, she had been living in Saudi Arabia while Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki told AP news agency that Saudi records show she was not a resident of Saudi Arabia and had been to the kingdom only twice in her life. On both trips, she came to visit her family, once in 2008 for several weeks and the second time in 2013 for four months.
She was killed by police as a suspect terrorist along with his husband— Syed Farook. According to police, she was inspired by ISIS and that was the reason she planed San Bernardino massacre. There are many questions about this tragic incident in the mind of people those are still unanswered.
Majority of people consider Tashfeen as suspect terrorist who influenced her husband to become partner in killing those innocent people who were considered as “infidels” by her. It may be mentioned that over 90% known terrorists organizations belong to one school of thoughts of Islam that considers everyone “infidel” except who is follower of this particular school of thoughts of Islam. This is same school of thoughts of Islam that is followed by ISIS, Al-Qaeeda, Boko Haram, Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and all other terrorist outfits.
The story of Tashfeen Malik was in headlines on December 4 and 5 and majority of newspapers of Pakistan used this story as headline story mentioning that deceased Tashfeen Malik was in contact with most controversial Imam of Pakistan —– Lal Masjid Islamabad cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.
Pakistani newspapers projected this alleged link of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Tashfeen Malik and used US media as “source”. US media claims that investigators had recovered photographs of Tashfeen with Maulana Abdul Aziz from data recovered during search of Tashfeen Malik. These photos were not shared with media by investigators. Pakistan media also claimed that US top officials met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London where he was present on December 4. Reports claimed that information were shared along with photos with PM Nawaz. Prime Minister House denied such news items instantly and said that PM had no such meeting with top US officials in London. Maulana Abdul Aziz on Saturday denied any links with Tashfeen Malik and he claimed that he had no links whatsoever with Tashfeen Malik and he had never been photographed with her. He also claimed that he had never met Tashfeen Malik. However, he mentioned that women sometimes come to him asking for advice, but he usually cannot recognise all of them because most come wearing face veils.
Pakistani media kept releasing stories of Tashfeen – Aziz alleged links and kept using US media as “source” for such alleged links. Indian media also ran stories about alleged links of Tashfeen and Mualana Aziz by citing Pakistani newspapers. Indian media is already runing a number of stories in which it claims that ISIS is present in Pakistan. Western media as well as Indian media are establishing a triangle of terrorism in which Tashfeen and Mualana Aziz are linked with ISIS.
Pakistani media also claim that US officials are gathering information from Multan and Islamabad about alleged link of Lal Masjid and Tashfeen Malik. Sources in intelligence network confirm that Pakistani intelligence agencies are gathering information about Tashfeen and her family and her possible visits to Lal Masjid but nothing has come on surface so far that can connect Tashfeen with Maulana Abdul Aziz who is also known as “Mualana Burka Posh” (Burka clad Mualana) in liberal circles of Pakistan. It may be mentioned that Maulana Abdul Aziz escaped while wearing Burka when his Lal Masjid was attacked by law enforcing agencies in July 2007 to establish writ of the government. This bloody attack resulted deaths of over 50 students mostly girls who were students of Maulana Abdul Aziz.
Maulana Abdul Aziz is a controversial personality in Pakistan that supported terrorism in past and criticized Pakistan Army for its operation against terrorists. Maulana Abdul Aziz is a federal government official as Imam of a mosque (Lal Masjid) and he was denied the right of giving sermons in mosque. However he came out of hibernation last month and again started giving Juma sermons at Lal Masjid. Maulana Abdul Aziz gave very controversial interviews to national as well as international media in past in which he supported global terrorism. An linkage of Tashfeen Malik with Maulana Abdul Aziz is a serious allegation and can case more embarrassment to Pakistan that has lost over 50,000 people in it war against terrorism and its Army is executing a successful operation against terrorism since June 2014. In these circumstances, Pakistani media should have been careful before lifting news and allegations from western media regarding alleged links between San Bernardino massacre and Lal Masjid Islamabad.
Moreover, Tashfeen was raised and brought up in conservative Saudi society and her former teachers believe that she was not comfortable with Pakistani society while studying at Bahauddin Zakariya University. She lived in Maryam Hall of University that is a hostel for female students but she complained to teachers that she was uncomfortable with the behavior of the other women and his father arranged a house in the city for her and then she lived there instead of hostel. Her former class fellows believe that Tashfeen Malik was a classic product of the conservatizing influence that Saudi Arabia has brought to bear on countries like Pakistan. Meanwhile, relatives of Tashfeen and old neighbors of his father Malik Gulzar claim that he father rejected the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam that his family had traditionally practiced, and turned to the stricter Wahabi school of thoughts of Islam. Her relatives claim that Malik Gulzar and his children disconnected themselves from their relatives as they did not wish to continue their contact with other family members who belong to different school of thoughts of Islam. In reality, the only link Tashfeen had with Pakistan was her birth and Pakistani passport while her grooming and life style was of a girl of Saudi Arabia. She could not change her passport because Saudi Arabia does not give citizenship to foreigners (Non-Saudis). Interestingly, Pakistani media is shy to indicate this fact that her life style was of a Saudi girl than a Pakistani girl and she used to follow Purdah even with brothers of her husband in United States. Pakistani media is just keep trying to link Tashfeen with Pakistan and with Mualana Aziz while western media is trying to link Tashfeen with ISIS. Meanwhile, Indian media is working to find presence of ISIS in Pakistan. The only link that is perceivable at the moment between Mualana Aziz and Tashfeen is the same school of thoughts both follow but this link is not enough to establish or confirm their contact and linkages. In an interview with MSNBC, Saira Khan, sister of Saeed Farook also considered Tahsfeen as “Saudi” though she was citizen of Pakistan. She said she had not have detail information about Tashfeen and even did not know from where she got degree because interaction with Tashfeen was limited. In an interview with Chris Jansing of MSNBC, Saira Khan said that his deceased brother was a shy introvert personality and very polite person.
According to Canadian media, Tashfeen also got classes at Al-Huda International Seminary at Nasheman Colony Multan. Al-Huda women-only madrassa has branches across Pakistan and in the U.S. and Canada. This madrassa is known for teaching strict code of Islam and reportedly belongs to same school of thoughts of Islam as of Mualana Aziz of Lal Masjid.
The National Post of Canada reported that 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.
After the release of story of Tashfeen presence in Al Huda Multan, the organisation has posted a message at website that says:
Tashfeen Malik had studied at Al-Huda International’s Multan branch for a brief period between 2013-2014 and left without completing the Diploma course. It seems that she was unable to understand the beautiful message of the Qur’an. We cannot be held responsible for personal acts of any of our students.
Any Muslim who is aware of the teachings of his/her religion and who adheres to the directives of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), will never involve himself/herself in such acts, because they will invoke the anger of Allah Almighty and lead to harm and corruption on earth. May Allah (swt) give us all true understanding of Islam.
Are we (Pakistani media) not helping enemies of Pakistan to establish a triangle of terrorism in which Tashfeen and Mualana Aziz are two characters who are linked with ISIS?
I remember a beautiful line from one of the letters of Charlotte Brontë. She says:
“I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!”