This is a strange story. The husbands have appealed to their wives to come home, but the wives and children appear to be headed for the Islamic State. They were known for their devoutness in Islam while in Britain, holding Qur’an classes and spreading Islamic material on the Internet — not that this has anything to do with Islam.
“Missing Bradford sisters ‘are from ultraconservative Muslim family,'” by Josh Halliday, Helen Pidd and Jessica Elgot, Guardian, June 16, 2015 (thanks to Peter):
Three sisters from Bradford who are feared to have fled to Syria with their nine children come from an ultraconservative Muslim Pakistani family.
The women were born and raised in Bradford and speak with broad Yorkshire accents. According to Alyas Karmani, a local councillor for the Respect party, their parents originally came to Yorkshire from a Pashtun community in north-west Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.
Pashtuns are associated with a strict interpretation of Islam, such as adherence to gender segregation and insistence on women covering their heads.
Neighbours said the family were devout Muslims. One of the sisters, Zohra Dawood, 33, is said to have held evening classes on the Qur’an in her house, while one of the older children appears to have created a website to share his views on Islam and regularly shared sermons from Islamic scholars on his Facebook page.
Some locals suggested the sisters were in unhappy arranged marriages with men from Pakistan – where Zohra’s husband now is, according to the family’s lawyer, Balaal Khan. But the two husbands of her sisters, Khadija Dawood, 30, and Sugra Dawood, 34, appeared at an emotional press conference in Bradford on Tuesday to insist they were happily married and had no idea why their wives appeared to have run away. Akhtar Iqbal, Sugra’s husband, said he could not live without his wife and children. Muhammad Shoaib said he had “the perfect marriage”.
Neighbours of Zohra painted a picture of a private and polite woman whose marriage had broken down. They said Zohra was distraught by her brother’s decision to join militants in Syria more than a year ago….
“The dad disappeared last year then the wife disappeared and then the kids disappeared and we haven’t seen them for six months,” said Alex Firth, 31, who lives in a house next to Zohra’s property. “He was a really good dad. He did everything for them – took them to school, picked them up – he was like their mum. I never saw the mum much.”Zohra’s daughters, Nurah, five, and Haafiyah, eight, went to nearby Marshfields school.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he used to send his children to Zohra’s house on evenings where they would learn about the Qu’ran [sic]. “She spoke broad Yorkshire, like me,” he said. “Father was a really nice guy but couldn’t speak much English.”…
On social media Ibrahim Iqbal, 14, the second eldest of Sugra Dawood’s five children, revealed himself to be a typical young British teenager….
But the posts also show a young man interested in religion and his heritage. Using another term for Pashtun, his profile picture says “I am Pathan, we don’t keep calm”, in the style of the “Keep calm and carry on” poster. He also posted regular sermons from Islamic scholars, a picture of a Palestinian flag, and a photoshopped image of Marlon Brando in an Islamic prayer cap, with the caption “The Godlover”.
Three years ago, Ibrahim appears to have created his own website entitled An 11-year-old’s point of view about Islam. He wrote: “I have faith in Allah and his angels. His books and his messengers and that all good and evil and fate is from Almighty Allah … this makes my iman [belief] strong.”
Junaid, the eldest of Sugra’s five children, has also posted Islamic quotes on his Facebook page, alongside pictures from the TV shows Arrow and Doctor Who.
One quote from the Qur’an says in English and Arabic: “Sufficient for us is Allah”. Another, from the 13th-century Qur’anic scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says: “This dunya [world] is like a shadow, if you try to catch it, you will never be able to do so. But if you turn your back towards it, it has no choice but to follow you.”