Abdul Sattar Edhi was perhaps the greatest humanitarian in our times. He has left behind a legacy of love, humility and selfless service that will perhaps never be matched
With the passing away of Abdul Sattar Edhi, it seems that humanity has lost an elder who embodied love, humility and compassion like no one else did in our living memory.
It has been less than an hour since the news of his death broke and social media is already flooded with emotional statuses and posts.
It feels like a personal loss to many of us who had never even met him. From Karachi, a friend shared a post by Emaan Chamdia: “Today, besides my nana’s death, this is the first time I have felt deep loss at someone’s death… someone I never had the opportunity to meet.”
Well-known film director Jami from Pakistan was disconsolate. He wrote several moving posts on Facebook, one of them asking where he could pay his respects to “The Boss”. He turned up at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplant (SIUT) where Edhi Sahib passed away.
“Sitting outside SIUT after seeing his body taken. Not sure where do we stand today. As a nation. What a horrific feeling once again,” he posted.
“He was our Mother Teresa and much much more,” commented Waqar Uddeen, a retiree from Karachi.
It’s not just Pakistanis. From Washington DC, Indian origin human rights activist Sapna Pandya wrote, “Inna lillahe wa inna elaihe rajeoon. Heart made even heavier today with the news of the passing of this incredible hero.”
“Abdul Sattar Edhi was an epitome of humanity. No one can ever fill the void that he has left in our hearts,” said Tulika Bathija, an educator and peace activist in Mumbai. “Yet, I hope and pray that Pakistan keeps his legacy alive. You’ll be dearly missed, Edhi sahib.”
Her friend Chintan Girish Modi, also a writer and peace activist, immersed himself in a book about Gandhi to cope with the loss.
But Edhi Sahib would not want us to pray for him or pay rich tributes, as television producer Nudrrat Khwaja commented. Like many others, she feels the best tribute we can pay to this giant of a human being is to “follow his legacy: Humanity above religion.”
“Farewell Edhi Saheb. There was never anyone like you, and perhaps never will be,” wrote well known journalist Nadeem Farooq Paracha, “The poor, the needy and the orphans have lost their best friend. You were Pakistan’s brightest light and its most comforting feature.“
Reporting news of the great man’s demise, The Indian Express termed him as the “saviour of the poor and needy”.
“May Allah give Edhi Sahib the best place in paradise and make his journey to Ahkira (the world hereafter) easy,” said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a press statement.
India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj expressed her “deep sense of grief” and termed him “a noble soul who dedicated his life in service of mankind”.
I express my deep sense of grief on the demise of Abdul Sattar #EdhiSahab. He was a noble soul who dedicated his life in service of mankind.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 8, 2016
Journalist Hasan Mansoor posted a series of evocative tweets about Edhi Sahib, whom he had interviewed. “#Edhi’s greatest joy,” he wrote, “was to listen Lata Mangeshkar’s evergreen songs while lying on his austere bed beneath an old creaking fan in his room.”
“#Edhi must have gone somewhere to help someone,” he added. “He does not go anywhere for anything else.”
Reading these messages, I am engulfed by a very deep sense of loss. I wish I could just take a flight to Karachi and attend his funeral. Edhi Sahab was a hero that we can all learn from.
Edhi Sahab’s last words were, “Mere mulk kay ghareebon ka khayal rakhna” (take care of the poor in my country”. A man who placed the welfare of others ahead of personal needs his entire life leaves us with a universal message of love and service of the nation and its people.
This means not just Pakistan. South Asia would do well to heed to him. He understood the real problems afflicting our countries better than the political and military establishments of India and Pakistan. Let us strive to fulfill his wish and work towards peace and welfare of the poor across South Asia.
The author is an IT professional and a peace activist based in Ghaziabad, India. Email: [email protected]