Farhat Hashmi is a Pakistani Islamic scholar and founder of the Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation. Controversial for her espousal of conservative religious positions, Hashmi operated in Canada for two years before Canadian immigration officials ordered her to leave the country in 2006.
Al-Huda International is an education and social reform organization directed toward women. The first Islamic school operated by Al-Huda opened in Islamabad in 1994. In the years following, Al-Huda began operating in other metropolitan areas within Pakistan, including Lahore and Karachi. As of 2010, approximately 70 Al-Huda schools were in operation and more than 15,000 Pakistani women had received Al-Huda diplomas.
Within Pakistan, Al-Huda and Hashmi are widely criticized by the ulma, who are male religious leaders. These men claim that the work of Al-Huda in educating women is corrupt and dangerous for society. Secular and liberal Pakistanis are equally critical of the work Hashmi does due to what they see as her advocacy of positions that are outdated and harmful for women, such as the practices of veiling and gender segregation.
Hashmi was included among the top 100 most influential Pakistani women according to a 2011 list published by Newsweek Pakistan. Hashmi was also on the list of 500 most influential Muslims in 2010' published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre.