Many of you probably have no clue who Abdus Sattar Edhi is! I say this because my guess is that most people reading my blog are not of Pakistani origin.
But Edhi is not someone you should know as a Pakistani. Yes, Edhi is the name of a single person, but when spoken in the context of a lifetime of service to humanity’s poorest members, it is the name associated with a movement that to me is larger than any other known to mankind. Edhi is the name of an old man, approximately 80 years old, who is perhaps the most trusted, the most respected, and the most honorable bearded man that I know.
I have no qualifications whatsoever to write about Edhi and his monumental work in charity, welfare, emergency services, and shelters for women and children. As many many Pakistanis would say, Edhi Sahib is there when no one else is. When all hope is lost, one can turn to Edhi, if nothing than just for that precious loving smile that can only come from a man with such a generous heart. I do not easily use the word Sahib to salute someone, but among the few people in Pakistan I will bend over backwards for, Edhi Sahib has to be on top of it.
I first learnt about Edhi as a little kid growing up in Karachi. Edhi ambulances were everywhere, Edhi homes were the place to go for charity, when bodies were found dead without relatives taking ownership, Edhi Sahib’s morgues would hold them, prepare them for burial and his staff would say the cermonial prayer. When women were beaten in their homes and feared their lives, they went to Edhi Sahib’s shelters, and if I wanted to support the largest orphanages in my city, I knew I had to support Edhi Centers.
As a kid I have seen Edhi Sahib, in his ever so salt-and-pepper beard and cap standing on the street corners of Karachi, literally begging and collecting 1 ruppee at a time to continue his charity operations. I have handed him a 5 ruppee bill and heard him say “Shukria, Allah aap kaa bhalaa karey“. Those words will never be forgotten from my memory. When Karachi was burning in the early 90’s, I have watched Edhi defy bullets and enter areas of Karachi that I would not dare drive through. I have watched him carry wounded young men off the streets, and watched him beg the residents of the same city to not listen to idiotic politicians and give his network their charity, alms, and hides during the sacrifice season. When there were rumors in the city that Edhi Center was a front operation of an illegal organ sale mafia, I walked into an Edhi center and myself witnessed his workers serving food to the homeless and the women who had been abandoned by their families. I have watched goons go door-to-door discrediting this great man and his charity organization – and then I have watched the same feeble man show his two-room apartment in an old part of Karachi, from where he runs his largest ambulance network in one of the most populated countries of the world. The only thing I ask is, when have I not seen Edhi be at the forefront of all emergency relief, rescue, and support operations? When is Edhi not the name to call on in cases of trouble? When has Edhi turned anyone away, and has Edhi not sacrificed his entire life to create a momentum for charitable social service in Pakistan that will live way beyond his own mortal life. Truth be told, if we had a process in Islam to beatify saints, I would nominate him for that.
But no, we do not have that process. But what we do have is a request from a dear friend to help him create a dossier that he can file with the Nobel Committee to consider Abdus Sattar Edhi and his foundation for a Nobel prize. He is the one man I know who truly deserves it, not only because he has literally been the difference between life and death for millions of people, but because his charity supersedes nationality, religion, caste, culture, or creed. If there is one living bearded man who deserves to be on the front page of our newspapers, our stamps, our post card, and on our walls, it is he. Please support Adil in his nomination effort by sending your personal encounters with Edhi and any other information you might have on him to his attention. Let me know if you want his personal email, otherwise you can see his post here to get more information on his project (clicking on any of the pictures will take you the nomination post). Only a few days are left, so please hurry up!!!
Edhi Foundation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edhi_Foundation
Abdus Sattar Edhi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Sattar_Edhi
Nomainating Edhi for Nobel Prize: http://pakistaniat.com/2007/01/23/nobel-award-pakistan-abdul-sattar-edhi-testimonial/