“Whatever I’ve done for the poor, the destitute, the orphans and the less fortunate is not for any person or even myself, it’s for Allah (SWT). I’ve always aimed to please Allah (SWT).”
These monumental words were not spoken by a great scholar or personality that lived centuries ago. No, these are the words that were spoken by one of the greatest humanitarians whose very name became the meaning of love, and selflessness, the great Abdul Sattar Edhi who lived in Pakistan but truly belonged to the whole world. Having garnered the respect from Pakistan and across the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi did not only win many international awards, but also received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest award that a civilian could be decorated with by the government of Pakistan. His mission spanning decades, of providing care to the destitute and helping the poor and needy sadly came to an end on 8th of July 2016, when the man who had come to be known as the Angel of Mercy finally departed this world and went on to live eternally under the mercy and grace of Allah the Almighty. A man that was never behind to help others and to please his Creator, Abdul Sattar Edhi even in death as a last gift, donated his organs to be used for those that needed them, though due to old age, only his eyes were in usable condition which were used to treat two patients who needed them. He was and is known as the greatest Humanitarian of this age and it is a complete marvel that such a man walked among us not long ago in this brutal and selfish world. With around 330 welfare centres and nearly 1500+ ambulances working 24/7 across Pakistan, it is no stretching of the tongue when people say that millions of people had have benefited from these services that include, food kitchens, rehabilitation institutes, orphanages and shelters for women and clinics for the mentally challenged. Abdul Sattar Edhi was never one to distinguish between race and religion when providing relief efforts and the Edhi foundation has provided their humanitarian services across the world, not only in Pakistan. So what made Abdul Sattar Edhi into the man who came to be trusted by people of all colours, race and religion and what are the lessons that people can learn from his extraordinary, humble, yet very hard life.
The Seeds of Compassion
Compassion lies dormant in every human since the day he or she is born. All it needs is a little nurturing to bloom and take the roots of kindness and empathy in one’s heart. During the childhood years, Abdul Sattar Edhi’s mother instilled the need to help others as a duty in his very being. In the words of the great man himself, he would often relate to a lesson of selflessness from his childhood that his mother taught him. Abdul Sattar Edhi says that when he used to go to school, he would receive 2paisa from his mother. She would give 1 to him to spend on himself and 1 to spend on some needy person. Lessons like these are what fuelled Edhi’s compassion which would make him strive to help all those he could. Years later his mother would get paralyzed and he would take care of her until she passed away. Having suffered through such an ordeal, he channelled his compassion in a practical way and began services to help the aged, and the physically challenged people.
Abdul Sattar Edhi
Having compassion to help the needy and to please Allah (SWT) according to his own words, Edhi lived a humble life. Even when he was the attention of the world where he could easily live life filled with fame and fortune, he never lost his moral standing or his focus in life. Having never owned more than 2 pairs of clothes, people allege which is probably true that he owned only a single pair of shoes for 20 years, up until the day he passed away. Having lead a life devoted to helping the poor, while never garnishing himself or his family with luxury makes a person wonder about what truly matters in this life. These lessons he also taught his family as they continue his work today.
Islam teaches honesty and in the present time, no one other than Abdul Sattar Edhi can be considered a perfect example of this. During the entirety the time since the Edhi foundation has been operating across the world, never once has there been accusation of discrepancies in the finds. People of the world trusted Edhi completely and that is something that the great humanitarian earned and it was Edhi’s integrity that lead to him becoming one of the most trusted people in Pakistan and the world. Even children would come out and donate their saved money or pocket money to his cause, as would the women who would donate even their most expensive ornaments and jewellery which could be used to help the poor.
Abdul Sattar Edhi cared for all, regardless of age, caste, creed or religion. Due to his experience with his own mother’s paralysis, he started services for the old. He would come to discover that people would either kill or leave their babies that have been born out of wedlock to die, which prompted him to start centres that would care for such infants, he even went as far as installing cradles outside his foundations or other areas with the message saying not to kill the baby but to put it into the cradle. He was a mercy for women who were old, divorced or financially suffering which inspired him to create shelters for them.
There is no single article or even an entire book that can cover all that Abdul Sattar Edhi has done for the downtrodden and hapless of the society. There was a time that people would criticize him for helping people of other communities and religions, but that never stopped him. He had no proper education but never let that stop him either from doing what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had taught us to do, to take care of our fellow humans. What he did, according to his own words, he did to please Allah (SWT) and his reward will be from Allah (SWT) for there is nothing in this entire world that is worthy as a reward for his services. All we can do is learn from him and remember him not only through his memory but by practically continuing his legacy.