Bounties Unbounded

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Bounties Unbounded

https://www.dawn.com/news/1408510

What comes to your mind when you think of Ramazan? Some of you associate this month of fasting with lips parched with thirst and a stomach growling for want of food. Others do not find fasting as difficult and look forward to the mouth-watering pakoras, samosas, fruit chaats and other goodies mummy prepares so lovingly in Ramazan.

Only the more compassionate among us will feel a surging sense of sympathy for the less privileged around us, and how hunger for them is not an option but a part of daily life!

The holy month of Ramazan brings with it countless blessings for us. As you all know, fasting is the third pillar of Islam. Much is written and said about the spiritual blessings of this sacred month and how most of us come out of this month a better and more considerate person.

There can be no two opinions about the spiritual gains of this month, but before I write about them, I would like my friends to know about some additional benefits as well.

Physical benefits of fasting

While we all consider fasting a religious obligation, only a few of us have an idea about the physical benefits we derive from it. Fasting is a healthy practice, but only if properly implemented. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, making the internal organs healthier.

When we are fasting, the digestive organs get proper time to rest instead of being constantly at work when we go about eating all day. The enzymes, which are required to break down the food we consume, get more concentrated as they do not have to work on the junk food most of us habitually munch on. This leads to better absorption of the nutrients in the food we eat at iftar.

Some experts assert that fasting promotes resolution of inflammatory diseases and allergies. It reduces production of insulin and the pancreas has to work less. Another benefit of fasting is that it tends to bring down blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Fasting also helps to reduce excessive body weight. The first response of the body to fasting is the breakdown of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is the breakdown of fats stored in our body to release energy. And this in turn brings down our body weight.

It has been observed that fasting reduces craving for processed foods. It promotes the desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. Fruits increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants, which help to boost our immune system.

Fasting promotes healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Although we all love the fried snacks which are usually a part of our iftar meals, we should be particular about not overeating them. Try your best to avoid too rich and oily food items and opt for natural food and a lot of liquids instead. By sticking to a balanced diet in Ramazan, we can derive the maximum physical benefits from fasting.

Moral benefits

The holy month of Ramazan comes as a blessing for us, as it enhances our moral values. We learn to be more compassionate towards the needy people around us who often go hungry. They may be fasting too, but hardly have enough food for sehr and iftar. By giving away as much alms as we can (or when our parents do so), we learn to care and share with others in need.

We also feel empathy for the fasting helpers in our home and try our best not to burden them with unnecessary workload. Out of compassion for them, we perform many personal chores ourselves, (something we do not habitually do) to make their fast easier for them.

Try to nurture these feelings of sympathy even after Ramazan, so that we are a better and more considerate person throughout the year.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Economic benefits

If you observe closely, you will find how people with financial needs look forward to Ramazan and the economical assistance it brings for them. People usually give away a major part of their zakat in this month. As you all know zakat, the fourth pillar of Islam, is a fixed percentage of our wealth, which is obligatory for all affluent Muslims to distribute among the poor on a yearly basis.

During this blessed month, even the underprivileged manage to have wholesome meals as many people give away provisions for the whole month. They happily buy new clothes, shoes and other items of necessity from the money they receive from their well-off Muslim brethren, luxuries which they cannot afford otherwise. Debts are cleared, entrepreneurs set up small businesses and hard-up parents usually plan weddings of their children from these donations and alms. NGOs doing complimentary social work also depend heavily on the funds they receive during Ramazan.

Social benefits

Ramazan is the perfect time to strengthen ties with our family. In the fast-paced lives we all lead, during the normal months, we seldom have meals together or do so in a rush.

Ramazan is the month when all gather at the iftar table before the call for the Maghrib prayers. We talk more to each other, share our day to day activities, while parents and grandparents will have some quick word of advice or stories of their own to share.

Boys are usually particular about praying with the congregation during Ramazan. They also go to the mosque with their fathers for Taraweeh prayers. This helps them to be better acquainted with the neighbours and make new friends. Some mosques have arrangements for ladies also.

Sending trays of iftar snacks to neighbours is something most of us practice. This promotes a feeling of goodwill and often becomes the reason to strike a new friendship.

Iftar parties also help us to connect with relatives and friends. This strengthens our social ties with them.

Spiritual benefits Last (but by no means the least), are the unending spiritual benefits of this sacred month.

The Holy Quran says:

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness” (2:183).

Fasting is not only abstaining from food and drink, it also teaches us to keep away from all bad deeds. We shun quarrels, unnecessary talking, telling lies and learn to exercise self-restraint in all walks of life.

Fasting inculcates in us a natural desire to perform good deeds. We feel closer to our creator and often take out time to ponder on the message of the Holy Quran as we recite it more during Ramazan. Fasting is a blessing in disguise for those of us who are irregular in your daily prayers. As the holy month starts, resolve that we will pray five times daily even when it is over.

The blessings of Ramazan are innumerable and I have tried my best to emphasise on those which my young friends can comprehend easily. In the end, I would like to quote two Hadiths about this month, so that you can understand the unbounded bounties of Ramazan.

“Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High Says, ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ For the fasting person, there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” [Imam Bukhari]

In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) says, “Ramazan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Imam Tabarani]

A very happy and blessed Ramazan to all of you with prayers that Allah accepts our fasts, forgives our sins, guides us to the right path and brings all of us closer to Him, not only in this month but always! Ameen.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 19th, 2018

ماں

 

درد کے صحرا سے لی مٹی

اشکوں کی نہر سے لیا پانی

ہمت وعزم کے پہاڑ کی چوٹی سے

اٹھائی کچھ ان چھوئی پاکیزہ برف

ملایا اس میں پھر کچھ وفا کا رنگ

اور ایثار سے گوندھ کے اٹھایا خمیر

شاید یوں اللہ نے بنایا ہے

ماں کا وجود

خوشی سے سہتی ہے وہ ہر غم

اپنے لال کو دکھوں سے بچانے کے لئے

کرتی ہے وہ اپنی نیند قرباں

اپنے بچے کو چین کی نیند سلانے کے لئے

سائیباں بن جاتی ہے وہ

زندگی کی دھوپ میں

 اللہ کا عکس ہے پنہاں دیکھا

ماں کے ہر اک روپ میں

زندگی بھر ممتا کے دکھ سہتی ہے وہ

اور اکثر یہ بھول جاتی ہے

کہ وہ صرف اک ماں نہیں

انساں بھی ہے !

عورت بھی ہے !

لیکن کبھی یوں بھی ہوتا ہے

ممتا کے دکھوں سہتے سہتے

 تھک سی جاتی ہے وہ

اپنے منصب کو بھول کر

زندگی کے دامن سے

چرانا چاہتی ہے کچھ رنگ

اپنے بے رنگ خوابوں کو سجانے کے لئے

لیکن یہ لغزش ہوتی ہے بس

چند لمحوں کے لئے

کہ فرض کا آہنی ہاتھ

اس کو جھنجھوڑ دیتا ہے

اور یاد دلاتا ہے

کہ

یہ خواہش اسے زیب دیتی نہیں

کہ وہ انساں نہیں

عورت نہیں

پہلے اک ماں ہے

ماں!!

جس کو بنایا ہے اللہ نے

درد سے

اشکوں سے

وفا سے

اور

ایثار سے !

رنج و غم کو اسے گلے لگانا ہے

اور اولاد کے لئے مٹ جانا ہے!

یاسمین الہی

You are a murderer!

YOU ARE A MURDERER!
You are a doctor, and yet you let someone die…just like that!
All you cared for was your fees… You were only bothered about your bloody fees…
You should be ashamed of yourself. Your degree should be torn and then burnt into the fire and your PMDC registration should be canceled right away and you should be hanged till death…because you were part of this murder!
I am a Pakistani and these above lines are wrenched from the bottom of my heart. I just found out that a woman died in a hit and run case yesterday, in Karachi, near Sea View. I am sure you all must be aware of this tragic incident; I am not going to focus on the mad driver who didn’t stop his car and instead, ran all over her and didn’t even stop for one second to look back at what he had done … He’s a murderer and he will rot in hell…
I am not going to comment on that bloody desperate thief who came forward to see the severely injured woman on the road…And in the pretense of providing a helping hand, he STOLE her mobile phone…without even thinking for one second that her phone could have been used for locating her family…or her family would have died a thousand deaths when they would have tried to contact her and her phone would have been turned off because that’s what thieves do, right? No… I am not commenting on this either…
I am commenting and condemning this DOCTOR who refused to treat her when the eye witnesses and some police constables took her to the nearest medical center. This DOCTOR had the audacity to refuse any kind of treatment because all she was worried about was the fact that the woman’s family was not there and her main question was that “Who would pay my fees?” That patient was dying… I am sure no one could have saved her…but at least some HUMANITY could have been expected from that DOCTOR…right?
My hands are cold right now, my eyes blurry with tears…I am mourning the death of humanity in our nation… our nation has stooped to the lowest levels and I really don’t know what to do now…my head is pounding with the images of this accident site and some flashbacks of the sanitary worker that died when THREE DOCTORS refused to treat him in Umerkot few months ago…but above all…my heart is HURT at the inhumanity of all these doctors… It’s killing me because I am a Doctor myself and we take OATHS to protect people. We have pledged to keep people’s safety and benefits before our own…and in cases of emergency…we are bound to come up front and take control…without thinking about money or any other superficial things!
It is my humble request to all, who read this post… Please do something… This nation is dying… Please please please become someone’s light instead of prying it away from them…
To all the doctors out there, don’t forget that YOU were bestowed with the power of healing… YOU were entrusted with the amanat of taking care of people before your own needs… YOU are going to be held accountable too!
Think a thousand times before you refuse treatment to any patient next time…
Dr.Ayesha Ansar Khan

تم نہ جان پائوگے

 

شہر کے دوکاندارو ۔۔۔۔۔ کاروبارِ اُلفت میں
سود کیا، زیاں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے
دل کے دام کتنے ہیں ۔۔۔۔۔ خواب کتنے مہنگے ہیں
اور نقدِ جاں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے

کوئی کیسے ملتا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ پھول کیسے کھلتا ہے
آنکھ کیسے جُھکتی ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ سانس کیسے رُکتی ہے
کیسے رِہ نکلتی ہے ۔۔۔۔۔۔ کیسے بات چلتی ہے
شوق کی زباں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے

وصل کا سکوں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ ہجر کا جنوں کیا ہے
حُسن کا فسُوں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ عشق کے درُوں کیا ہے
تم مریضِ دانائی ۔۔۔۔۔ مصلحت کے شیدائی
راہِ گمراہاں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے

زخم کیسے پھلتے ہیں ۔۔۔۔۔ داغ کیسے جلتے ہیں
درد کیسے ہوتا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ کوئی کیسے روتا ہے
اشک کیا ہیں، نالے کیا ۔۔۔۔۔ دشت کیا ہیں، چھالے کیا
آہ کیا، فُغاں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے

جانتا ہوں میں تم کو ۔۔۔۔۔ ذوقِ شاعری بھی ہے
شخصیت سجانے میں ۔۔۔۔۔ اِک یہ ماہری بھی ہے
پھر بھی حرف چُنتے ہو ۔۔۔۔۔ صرف لفظ سُنتے ہو
اِن کے درمیاں کیا ہے ۔۔۔۔۔ تم نہ جان پاؤ گے

۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔
جاوید اختر

 

The Cousin Connection

(https://www.dawn.com/news/1321263)

Cousins are to life what colours are to a black and white sketch on a canvas. Just like lively colours make a painting a joy to the eyes, cousins add enjoyment and pleasure to our lives.

They are always an integral part of our extended family. Whether we connect with them day to day, or we meet them after a number of years and whether we live in the same city or continents apart, we share with them a bond which defies age, distance and time.

The best thing about cousins is that you never disconnect with them. Discussions come naturally even if you have met after weeks, months or even years. You pick up a conversation as if you had only talked a little while ago. You talk spontaneously about common interests, your recent activities or important news about the family without any awkward moments.

A relationship with no match

Sometimes cousins are like siblings, sometimes like friends and most of the times, they are someone in between these two. And yes, they can be strong competitors and in extreme cases foes too! But most important of all, they share common ancestry and history. Whatever the status of our bond with them may be, they are an inevitable part of our lives, adding all the flavours of spice to it and making it more enjoyable.


Celebrating the unique bond shared by cousins


Cousins may be not as important a part of our lives as siblings are, but the knowledge that we can connect with them as much as and whenever we want to, brings them closer to us. We can freely discuss our problems with them (without the fear of being reported to an elder) as they will always lend a sympathetic ear and are ready with some good advice.

With a sibling you do not have a choice. Accept them as they are your only option. We live day in and day out with them, sharing strong ties of love, care and sacrifice. But at times it can be a bumpy relationship where you are fast friends one moment and fierce foes the very next. Although instinctively we are always ready to help and defend siblings against all odds, we also fight and argue on petty issues.

With cousins the scenario is totally different. Your likes, interests and preferences match with some of them and you may not look eye to eye with others. This strongly defines how close you are to them or the bond of friendship you share with them. This factor also strongly affects the amount of time or activities you share with them.


Cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance


You can always be yourself and feel comfortable when cousins are around, because you never feel the need to impress them with your looks, dressings or thoughts.

The relationship with cousins keeps changing with time and age, and can be strange in many ways. We grow up together playing weird games, getting in and out of trouble due to our silly mistakes and antics, sharing and fiercely guarding secrets, and loving each other with all our good and bad traits.

But we have differences as well! We can be arch rivals as we strive to compete with them in all walks of life, ranging from getting more importance from elders to performing better at studies or to be more popular among our peers.

Cousins of all ages

The age factor also strongly affects the kind of relationship you have with a cousin. You turn to the older ones for help when you are stuck in a problem, pamper and cuddle the younger ones and build a lifetime bond of friendship with those who match your age group.

Joys of sharing and caring

Cousins are witnesses to our achievements and failures. Always quick to encourage and reassure, they will celebrate with you in happy moments and lend a shoulder to cry on in sad ones. With them you share common family tragedies and take pride in the accomplishments of members.

No family gathering is complete without cousins. Whenever you are invited by an uncle or aunt, you instantly ask if so and so (one of your favourite cousins) is coming. It may be playing in-door or outdoor games, laughing till your stomach aches at something amusing you witnessed or just doing small talk, cousins always make attending a family gathering worth your time.

At weddings or larger gatherings, you find it very natural to sit in a group, sharing a common table, where you can crack jokes, share interesting experiences from your common past, pass remarks on other guests or just share what you have been doing recently.

When we are growing up, we take cousins for granted. Playing pranks at each other, sharing family jokes and laughing at them till tears roll out of our eyes, planning and enjoying get-togethers and overnight stays at our grandparents, enjoying grandma’s cooking and grandpa’s stories of his youth, we spend quality time together which at that stage of life seems to be endless.

And time flies by …

Like all good things, this memorable phase of life flies by with the passage of time. As years slip by and we enter adulthood, the childhood memories of the time we spent with cousins are often the most cherished ones in our treasure box of memories.

I belong to a large family and often share with my grandchildren interesting episodes from my childhood days. We were a big (and mischievous) lot and fell into different groups according to our ages. And each group looked up to the senior ones with respect and awe, as we considered them more experienced, learned and wiser than us. Whenever I had a quarrel with a cousin, I remember turning to our eldest cousin for arbitration, and her word was the final one as there was no question of an argument!

Family jokes, incidents which I would not like to share with everyone, the time I spent with cousins at our grandparents’ place, or the vacations which we enjoyed together, are all important pearls in my chest of memories. At the twilight of life, I often look back on those moments and cherish them fondly.

Marion C. Garretty so beautifully summed up the relationship between cousins, “A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost”.

So cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance.

What are you waiting for? Call them and text them the moment you put this magazine down, go and meet them this weekend and make memories that will light up your life when you all are living separate and busy lives.

Published in Dawn, Young World March 18th, 2017

Quran’s description of a Good Muslim

مومن تو وہ لوگ ہیں کہ جب ان کے سامنے اللہ کا ذکر ہوتا ہے تو ان کے دل ڈر جاتے ہیں ، اور جب ان کے سامنے اس کی  آیتیں  پڑھی جاتی ہیں تو وہ آیتیں ان کے ایمان کو اور ترقی دیتی ہیں، اور وہ اپنے پروردگار پہ بھروسہ کرتے ہیں۔ جو نماز قاٗۃم کرتے ہیں ، اور ہم نے ان کو جو رزق دیا ہے ، اس میں سے فی سبیل اللہ خرچ کرتے ہیں ۔ یہی لوگ ہیں جو حقیقت میں مومن ہیں ۔ان کے لٹے  ان کے رب کے پاس بڑے درجے ہیں ، مغفرت ہے اور با عزت رزق ہے۔

سورہ انفال آیت ۲۔۔۔۔۔۴

 

FOR Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; Who establish regular prayers (namaaz) and spend freely out of the gifts We have given them for Sustenance; Such in truth are the Believers; they have grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness and generous sustenance.

Al- Quran

Sura e Anfaal

Ayat no 2-4

 

From Fantasy To Reality (http://www.dawn.com/news/1283186)

In our part of the world, weddings are the most celebrated occasions, not only in the lives of the prospective bride and groom, but also the immediate family, the not-so-immediate family and the circle of friends.

The excitement starts when the boy gives a go-ahead to his parents to find a suitable girl for him. From then on mothers and sisters begin a frantic search, rejecting or approving girls over a tea-trolley. She is examined from head to toe, irrelevant / embarrassing questions are thrown at her and she can be rejected at the slightest pretext. If she passes the test, a formal proposal is sent to her parents. This in turn starts another frenzied activity. Heads are joined to make a decision and the boy’s looks, height, income, whether he owns a house or not etc are taken into consideration. As soon as the proposal is accepted and the time for the grand occasion is decided, the wedding fever sets in.

Selection of the bridal outfit, the matching jewellery to be ordered, sandals and handbag to go with the shaadi ka jora, are all matters of utmost importance. The best beauty studio is booked for the bridal make-over and the best possible venue is selected for the functions. Every minute detail has to be chalked out — from invitation cards, the bride and groom’s entry in the wedding hall, the decoration of the stage, the flowers, lightning, cake, the menu, token gifts for the guests, the list seems to be endless.

There are non-stop shopping sprees for clothes, shoes, furniture and crockery for the dowry and gifts for the bridegroom and the in-laws. These frenzied shopping trips leaves the bride and her family exhausted as the Big Day approaches.

The groom’s house is also buzzing with pre- wedding arrangements. Along with the dresses, jewellery and accessories for the bride the house needs to be renovated, re-painted and sometimes re-furnished. The couple’s room is given extra attention. The bride usually brings in new furniture but the carpet and curtains have to be changed. Bathrooms are re-designed to complement the new look of the room. Everything should be picture perfect when the bride arrives.

The fantasy which begins with the shopping, the pre-wedding merriments, friends’ gatherings, dholkis, mayoon and mehndi reaches its peak at the grand wedding and valima receptions.

But in all these feverish activities, the groom’s parents who were so choosy about the prospective wife of their son and the bride’s parents who were so particular to find out every detail about the person who had proposed for their daughter’s hand, completely forget to teach their offspring what marriage is really about.

Parents, who spend so much time, energy and, of course, money on their children’s weddings, don’t deem it important to guide them about the responsibilities which come with a married life and the facts regarding the rights and duties concerning their future spouse. Things which should be the foremost on the list of wedding preparations are totally ignored or given a back-seat. So, most couples enter into matrimony only thinking about their wedding and not marriage, totally confused about the demands of this new stage of life.

Both husband and wife have a different set of problems. The girl ties the nuptial knot thinking that life after marriage is one long honeymoon, where you live in grand houses, shop till you drop, eat out in expensive eateries on a regular basis and your spouse does nothing except pampering you, and even at home you are dressed in designer clothes and wear full makeup and expensive jewellery.

Once the post-wedding partying and enjoyments are over and the bride is expected to slip into the role of a wife and home-maker, reality starts to set in. Most girls fail to realise that they should leave behind the fantasy which was only temporary. The groom has lots of more important things at hand, other than complying with her moods and whims. She cannot expect him to leave a ‘I love you’ note when he is getting late to office, neither to bring her roses every day, and surely not on the days when he has had an extra tiring schedule or problems with his boss.

The groom has his own set of disappointments. As the bride slips into the role of a home-maker, she may also want to go back to her job. When he comes home, she may also be tired after a hard day’s work, so he cannot expect her to be dressed up as a doll, starry-eyed and swooning over him at the slightest pretext. And if she has been cooking or cleaning or dusting, she will not emit the fragrance of roses.

The bubble of fantasy may have all the colours of a rainbow, but bubbles are bound to burst. Instead of feeling disappointed or disillusioned, the couple could have coped better if their parents had guided them correctly. The early months of a marriage are usually the make or break ones. For dreamers, this journey can be a survival in an unhappy marriage and for the more extreme ones just begin and end with a big jolt. More sensible couples, after the initial disappointment, adapt quickly to the demands of a married life. But the truth is that this journey from fantasy to reality can change lives, for better or for worse.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2016

 

Edhi: the man, the legacy

For the last few days I have been struggling for words. So much has been written about Abdul Sattar Edhi, the enormity of his mission, his endless struggle to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden, the sick and the neglected segments of our society.

Words simply fail me, what do you write about a legend, an institution? Where do I begin and where should I end? But perhaps I am wrong in my quest for words, because there can be no adjectives fit enough to describe the extent of the work Edhi started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

I cannot find words fit enough to describe a man of Edhi’s stature. But the writer in me is restless and wants to try, although nothing I can write could be worthy enough for him. I also want my young readers to know more about Edhi and his mission.

Beginning from the scratch, Edhi Sahab created a charitable empire and his foundation is Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, filling in the gap which the state should have covered. But the remarkable fact about our national hero is that he never gave up his simple lifestyle till his very end. Although he got millions of rupees in donations, he was content with only two sets of clothes of coarse cotton and he was never uncomfortable in meeting dignitaries and high officials in these clothes.

The two room apartment above the office of Edhi Foundation in Kharadar was his humble home for decades. He felt no shame in calling himself poor when he would get millions in donations. His ego was not hurt when he begged on the streets for charity.

We all should pay due respect to Edhi Sahab’s mother who instilled in him the habit of helping the needy since his early childhood. She would give him two paisa daily and make sure that he gave away one paisa in charity. In 1947 when the family moved to Pakistan, Edhi idealised the newly formed country to be a Muslim welfare state. But his dreams were shattered as he helplessly watched his paralysed and mentally disabled mother die, with no support from the state for the struggling family.

The passion of serving the downtrodden ran in Edhi’s blood like a fire which kept him restless and unable to concentrate on anything else. In 1951, full of idealism and hope, he stood on the streets of Karachi and asked for donations to buy an ambulance and a small space to set up a dispensary to aid the poor. He managed to collect enough funds to buy an old Hillman van and an eight feet dispensary. He spent hours washing and polishing the battered vehicle before proudly painting ‘Poor Man’s Van’ on both sides. The van became his prized possession as he drove round the city helping people to get quick medical assistance.

Edhi’s efforts were only the beginning of a new era of social services in Pakistan. What started off as a small dispensary in Mithadar, transformed into the country’s largest charitable organisation, comprising mobile dispensaries, ambulances, orphanages, shelter homes, animal hostel, maternity homes, old homes, morgues and graveyards.

Edhi began with a single van, and died with a fleet of ambulances, helicopters, orphanages and an army of volunteers dedicated to saving life. Today, there are 335 centres with 1,800 ambulances in the country, and thousands dependent on him for their free food, water, medicines and shelter. His centres are abroad too, in the US, Canada, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Middle East.

Edhi Foundation owns the largest fleet of ambulances in the world. With the network spread out in every part of Pakistan, whether there is a bomb blast, a terrorist attack, a fire or an earthquake, these white coloured ambulances reach out to the needy in just minutes.

Edhi devoted sixty years of his life helping the poorest of the poor. Bathing the mentally retarded, feeding the children at his orphanages, spending time with the abandoned people in his Old Homes, Edhi never had time for himself or his family.

He had nerves of steel but a heart of gold. Spending sleepless nights reaching out to those in need, he worked tirelessly for the under privileged. His frail figure bent by the workload he carried happily, his aging face never lost its humble smile. When he was exhausted after bathing hundreds of dead bodies after a calamity, natural or man instigated, his attitude never showed a sign of strain. When his health did not allow him to be physically active anymore, he would sit in a wheelchair with a box, asking for donations from people passing by. And even a humble donation was appreciated with a smile from the great man.

Edhi’s wife Bilquis was always at his side in his social work. Together they created Pakistan’s biggest adoption network, where abandoned babies are given up for adoption. But the couple made tireless efforts to ensure that the children were handed over to deserving couples, who could give them a comfortable and respectable life.

For Edhi, humanity was above everything. His philosophy was ‘love human beings, serve the humanity’. He beleived that to be a good Muslim we should pay importance to Huqul Ibaad. His services were beyond any consideration of cast or creed, religion or race. His passion to serve humanity inspired many more likeminded organisations to come forward for charity work, but Edhi Foundation surpasses their work by miles.

Edhi Sahab got nearly 250 awards in his lifetime, both national and international, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service (1986) and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1989) the most prominent of them. He was twice nominated for the Noble Peace prize, which sadly he has yet to receive. But for Edhi, his greatest award was the happy smile of the children at his orphanages who called him ‘Nana’ and flocked around him lovingly when he made his usual rounds. For a man of his stature and the kind of legacy he has left, there needs to be an award established in Edhi’s name for those who perform outstanding humanitarian acts.

Edhi is around no more, the father of the fatherless, the man who shunned publicity, who lived the simplest of life till his very end, who proved that if there is a will, we do not need huge budgets to help the needy and destitute. Edhi preferred to die in Pakistan than go abroad for treatment. He had willed that his organs be donated after his death. Although poor health rendered most of his organs not suitable for transplant, even in death he made final act of charity. Immediately after he expired, his eyes gave vision to two blind people.

People like Edhi never die, they just move on to a world better than the one we are living in. He continues to live among us, in our hearts, in the old homes he created, in the orphanages where he was a father figure for the thousands of orphans. He is everywhere, all over Pakistan, in the vast network of ambulance service he created singlehandedly, the centres for the disabled and the destitute, the rehabilitant homes for drug addicts.

Pakistan is mourning Edhi Sahab and the sense of loss is beyond words. Friends, the only tribute which is fit enough for him is to try to keep his legacy alive and put in our best efforts to continue the great work he began. Even a simple act of charity or kindness everyday will help us to keep his memories and mission alive.

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 16th, 2016