Farhat Hashmi is one of the most influential contemporary Muslim scholars or Ulema particularly in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has had a profound impact on the religiosity and understanding of Islam by women since the 1990s when she started her program of Qur'anic education.
Dr. Hashmi (or Dr. Farhat as she is referred to by many of her students) was born in Sargodha, Punjab, and is the daughter of the (Late) Abdur Rehman Hashmi, another prominent Muslim scholar.
She received her masters in Arabic at the Punjab University, Lahore, and was married shortly afterwards to Dr. Idrees Zubair. She received her PhD in Hadith Sciences from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She taught at the International Islamic University Islamabad, while also conducting informal "duroos" or religious study circles for women in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Her fame caught on as her study circles were regularly attended by the social elite in the capital, including Mrs. Farooq Leghari, the First Lady of Pakistan in the late 1990s.
She resigned from her post at the University and decided to pursue her mission of establishing a center of Islamic learning, particularly catering to women. She is known worldwide for having established Al-Huda International, a chain of centers that cater towards the promotion of Qur'anic knowledge for the common women. "Al-Huda" means "The Guidance", which is one of the epithets of the Qur'an. It is the ultimate guidance provided by God to mankind to lead a righteous life.
Dr. Hashmi and Dr. Zubair have four children: three married daughters and a son. Their daughters are also teachers there. There is Asma Zubair also known as Bint al-huda who teaches recitation and Taimiyyah Zubair who teaches grammar. She has one daughter in Pakistan Maryam and a son Hisham, who lives with her. Currently, the family resides in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Hashmi established the first center of her institution "Al-Huda International" in a building in downtown Islamabad. Since then, Al-Huda centers have been established in most of the cities of Pakistan, USA and Canada to impart the pristine teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith. Besides regular courses, the centers conduct special workshops which are open to the general public. One of the largest centers is located in Clifton, a posh locality of Karachi.
Dr. Hashmi herself lectures in some of these sessions, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Many of her lectures are recorded and disseminated all throughout Pakistan, the Middle East as well as the US and UK.
Over the years, a number of women from common walks of life have taken on a leadership role in the dissemination of knowledge after having spent time in acquiring the essential knowledge and tools from Dr. Hashmi. These women also manage the different centers all over the world. Women scholars at her institution also conduct lectures and workshops in English, however the primary medium remains Urdu.
Dr. Hashmi is widely known for her in depth knowledge of Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), and a detailed grasp of Classical Arabic. Her primary following remains the middle and upper classes of Pakistan, however her influence is certainly more widespread, and is not restricted only to women.
Some of Dr. Farhat Hashmi's lectures can be accessed here.