California shooters
Syed Rizwan Farook (L) and Tashfeen Malik were buried at a Muslim cemetery on Tuesday, 15 December 2015. They are pictured in this undated handout photos provided by the FBI, 4 December 2015.Reuters

The Al-Huda Institute, a conservative religious school with branches in Pakistan and Canada, has become the focus of media attention after its former student in Pakistan, Tashfeen Malik, gunned down 14 people along with her husband in California last week. 

Malik had joined the school in Pakistan's Multan region in 2013 to study the Quran but abruptly ended her 18-month course last year citing that she was planning to get married. 

Who are California shooting suspects Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik?

Even as the Al-Huda institute has said it is not responsible for Malik's actions, it has now come to light that four Canadian women who had attended the same school at its Mississauga branch joined the Islamic State in Syria. 

The institute, founded by Canada-based Islamic scholar Farhat Hashmi, has often been criticised for its radical and conservative teachings, which include regressive ideas of wives' duty and subservience to their husbands. 

"They are trained to be activists and reformers, bringing people back to what they call the 'real' Islam, true and pure," a Pakistani professor with a PhD on Al Huda told The New York Times

A Muslim woman told Canada's The Globe and Mail that she had attended one of Hasmi's sessions and found that she taught a "very fundamentalist brand of Islam". 

Al Huda institute put up a statement on its website claiming that it is a 'non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit organisation which does not have any links to any extremist regime'.

"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," the school founder said. 

However, the Islamic school has become a common point with Malik and four Canadian women who attended the lectures in the Pakistani and Canadian branches in the last few years before turning to extremism and jihad, CBC News reported. 

Three young Canadian women in their 20s and a girl as young as 16 had left the country last year to travel to Syria and join Isis. 

However, authorities intercepted three of them in Turkey and they were sent back to Canada, while the fourth woman is said to be still living in Syria.

Tashfeen Malik's former classmates from the Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan told Pakistani media that they noticed that she had 'drastically changed' after attending classes at the religious seminary, claiming that she turned 'serious and strict'. 

Tashfeen Malik had travelled to the US on a K-1 visa and married Syed Rizwan Farook, and both reportedly stocked up ammunition and even undertook target practice before going on a mass shooting rampage at a social services centre in San Bernardino on 2 December. 

Isis claimed that the two were the 'followers' of Islamic State and had become 'martyrs' after the attack.