Abdul Sattar Edhi

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Abdul Sattar Edhi
عبد الستار ایدھی
Abdul Sattar Edhi.jpg
Edhi, c. 2009
Born(1928-02-28)28 February 1928[1][2]
Died8 July 2016(2016-07-08) (aged 88)
Resting placeEdhi Village, Karachi
25°03′N 67°29′E / 25.05°N 67.49°E / 25.05; 67.49Coordinates: 25°03′N 67°29′E / 25.05°N 67.49°E / 25.05; 67.49
Other namesAngel of Mercy[3]
The Richest Poor Man[4]
(m. 1965)

Abdul Sattar Edhi NI LPP GPA (Urdu: عبد الستار ایدھی‎; 28 February 1928[6] – 8 July 2016)[1][7][2][8] was a Pakistani humanitarian, philanthropist and ascetic who founded the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world's largest volunteer ambulance network,[9] along with various homeless shelters, animal shelters,[10] rehabilitation centres, and orphanages across Pakistan.[11] Following his death, his son Faisal Edhi took over as head of the Edhi Foundation.

Edhi's charitable activities expanded greatly in 1957 when an Asian flu epidemic (originating in China) swept through Pakistan and the rest of the world. Donations allowed him to buy his first ambulance the same year. He later expanded his charity network with the help of his wife Bilquis Edhi.[11][12]

Over his lifetime, the Edhi Foundation expanded, backed entirely by private donations, which included establishing a network of 1,800 ambulances. By the time of his death, Edhi was registered as a parent or guardian of nearly 20,000 adopted children of whom he was an active caretaker.[7] He is known amongst Pakistanis as the "Angel of Mercy" and is considered to be Pakistan's most respected and legendary figure.[3][13] In 2013, The Huffington Post claimed that he might be "the world's greatest living humanitarian".[14]

Edhi maintained a hands-off management style and was often critical of the corruption commonly found within the religious organizations, clergy and politicians.[15] He was a strong proponent of religious tolerance in Pakistan and extended his support to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 1985 famine in Ethiopia.[16][17] He was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Malala Yousafzai.[18][19] Edhi received several awards including the Gandhi Peace Award, Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize and the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize.[20]

The Edhi Foundation and Bilquis Edhi Trust[edit]

Edhi resolved to dedicate his life to aiding the poor, and over the next sixty years, he single-handedly changed the face of welfare in Pakistan.[citation needed] He subsequently founded the Edhi Foundation.[citation needed] Additionally, his previously established welfare trust, named the Edhi Trust was restarted with an initial sum of Rs.5000, the trust was later renamed after his wife as the Bilquis Edhi Trust.[citation needed] Widely regarded and respected as a guardian and saviour for the poor, Edhi began receiving numerous donations which allowed him to expand his services. To this day, the Edhi Foundation continues to grow in both size and service and currently remains the largest welfare organization in Pakistan. Since its inception, the Edhi Foundation has rescued over 20,000 abandoned infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans and has trained over 40,000 nurses.[21] It also runs more than 330 welfare centres throughout rural and urban Pakistan that operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children, and clinics for the mentally and physically handicapped.[22]

The Edhi Foundation is funded entirely by private donations and full services are offered to people irrespective of ethnicity, religion or status.[23] It runs the world's largest volunteer ambulance service (operating over 1,500 of them) and offers 24-hour emergency services. It also operates free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women's shelters and rehabilitation centres for drug addicts and the mentally ill.[24] Outside of its main base of operations all over South Asia, the Edhi Foundation has also run relief operations in the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus region, Eastern Europe, and the United States. In 2005, the foundation donated US$100,000 to relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.[25] As of 2020, the Foundation has international head offices present in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Japan.[26]

His son Faisal Edhi, wife Bilquis Edhi and daughters managed the daily operations of the organization during his ill health and continue to do so after his death.[21] He was called Pakistan's equivalent of Mother Teresa by India Today in 1990,[27] and the BBC wrote that he was considered "Pakistan's most respected figure and was seen by some as a saint."[13]

In 2014, the foundation was targeted and robbed of approximately US$500,000 and has been the victim of right-wing attacks and competition from Pakistan's militant far-right as well as being the victim of "strong-arm tactics" from political parties such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.[28]

Travel issues[edit]

In the early 1980s, Edhi was arrested by Israeli troops while he was entering Lebanon. In 2006, he was detained by authorities in Toronto, Canada, for over sixteen hours. In January 2008, U.S. immigration officials at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City investigated him for over eight hours after seizing his passport and other documents. When asked by media officials about the frequent detentions, Edhi said: "The only explanation I can think of is my beard and my dress." His appearance in traditional Pakistani clothing and a long beard made him appear visibly Muslim and therefore, in a post-9/11 climate, prompted U.S. and Canadian travel authorities to keep him for additional questioning.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Edhi was born into a Memon Muslim family, and publicly expressed that he was not a "very religious person", and that he was "neither for religion or against it".[30] On his faith, he stated that he was "a humanitarian" and spiritual, telling others that "empty words and long phrases do not impress God" and to "show Him your faith" through action.[31][32][33] In 1965, Edhi married Bilquis, a nurse who worked at an Edhi Trust dispensary.[34] They had four children, two daughters and two sons.[3] Bilquis is responsible for running the free maternity home at the foundation's headquarters in Karachi and organizes the adoption of abandoned babies including those who are otherwise at risk of being killed as a potential consequence of being born out of wedlock or due to rape.[35] Edhi was known for his ascetic lifestyle, owning only two pairs of clothes, never taking salary from his organization and living in a small apartment next to his organization's office.[13][36][37][38] Edhi often ran into trouble with Islamist terrorist organizations and conservative religious and political leaders who opposed him because of his offering of full humanitarian services to everyone—particularly low-class citizens, Hindus, and other non-Muslims. Aside from these, Edhi and his organization have also run into trouble with the MQM.[39] Prominent Pakistani figures such as Maulana Tariq Jamil[40] and Pakistani−Canadian Sheikh Faraz Rabbani[41] often expressed their strong support for Edhi and his work.

Illness and death[edit]

On 25 June 2013, Edhi was hospitalized due to failing kidneys; it was announced that he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life unless he found a kidney donor.[42] He later died on 8 July 2016 at the age of 88 due to complete kidney failure after having been placed on a ventilator. One of his last wishes was that his organs be donated for the use of the needy but due to his poor health, only his corneas were suitable for later use in donation.[43] He was laid to rest at Edhi Village in Karachi.[44]

Reactions and Funeral[edit]

Reactions to his death came from several high-ranking Pakistani officials, with then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying in an official statement: "We have lost a great servant of humanity. He was the real manifestation of love for those who were socially vulnerable, impoverished, helpless and poor."[13] Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif called him a "true humanitarian".[3]

Prime Minister Sharif declared national mourning on the day following Edhi's death and announced a state funeral for him. He became the third person in Pakistan's history to receive a state gun carriage funeral after Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Zia-ul-Haq. He was the only Pakistani without a state authority or a state role to receive a state funeral. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), state honours were given to Edhi by a guard of honour and a 19-gun salute. The attendees at his Janazah (Islamic funeral prayer) included dignitaries such as Mamnoon Hussain (President of Pakistan), Raza Rabbani (Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan), Ishratul Ibad (Governor of Sindh), Qaim Ali Shah and Shehbaz Sharif (the Chief Ministers of Sindh and Punjab, respectively), Raheel Sharif (Chief of Army Staff) along with Muhammad Zakaullah and Sohail Aman (the Chiefs of Staff of the Pakistani Navy and Air Force), at the National Stadium, Karachi.[45][46]


On 4 July 2016, the Defence Housing Authority announced its decision to rename the 5 kilometre-long Beach Avenue in Seaview as 'Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue' in recognition of the welfare services by Edhi over the course of his lifetime.[47][48]

On 28 February 2017, Google celebrated Edhi with a Google Doodle hailing his "super-efficient" ambulance service.[49]

On 31 March 2017, a Rs.50 cupronickel commemorative coin was issued across the country upon the recommendation of the State Bank of Pakistan to Prime Minister Sharif, who decided to commemorate Edhi's services on the national level.[50] Edhi became the only social worker and the fifth Pakistani personality to have been honoured with a commemorative coin.[51]

World-renowned photographer Shahidul Alam photo-documented Edhi since 1995.[52]

Honours and awards[edit]

International Awards[edit]

National Awards[edit]


In 2011, then-Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani recommended Edhi for a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.[65] Again in early 2016, a petition signed by 30,000 for a Nobel Peace Prize for Edhi was moved by Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala Yousafzai.[66] In her condolence message on Edhi's death, broadcast by BBC Urdu, Malala quoted that "as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, I hold the right to nominate people for the prize and I have nominated Abdul Sattar Edhi".[67][68]

Najam Sethi, a governing board member of the Pakistan Cricket Board proposed to rename Gaddafi Stadium after Edhi.[69]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ala, Mustard; T.A.N.S. (12 November 2006). "Honorary Doctorate Degree byIBAA awarded to Abdul Sattar Edhi". DAWN. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016
  2. ^ a b "Celebrated humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passes away in Karachi". DAWN.COM. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Ahmed, Munir (8 July 2016). "Pakistan's legendary 'Angel of Mercy' Abdul Edhi dies at age 88". Toronto Star. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  4. ^ Khan, Hassan (26 April 2016). "Edhi: The richest poor man". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  5. ^ Kohli, Suneeti Ahuja. "Angel of mercy". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi: Why Google honours him today". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b Boone, Jon (13 July 2016). "Abdul Sattar Edhi obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  8. ^ Desk, News (5 November 2017). "Land mafia taking over Edhi properties". Global Village Space. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi: Why Google honours him today". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  10. ^ "KARACHI: Animal care still a distant dream". Dawn. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  11. ^ a b Dawn.com, AFP (8 July 2016). "Celebrated humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passes away in Karachi". Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  12. ^ Masood, Salman (8 July 2016). "Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan's 'Father Teresa,' Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d "Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi dies aged 88". BBC News. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  14. ^ The World's Greatest Living Humanitarian May Be From Pakistan, The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2016
  15. ^ "Dailytimes | Edhi: the ordinary man who was extraordinary — II". dailytimes.com.pk. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  16. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Abdul Sattar Edhi – A life bigger than accolades | Asia | DW.COM | 8 July 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Edhi Foundation gave $100,000 for Katrina relief efforts: US ambassador". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  18. ^ Dawn.com (9 July 2016). "No one deserves Nobel Peace Prize more than Abdul Sattar Edhi, says Malala". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  19. ^ Desk, Monitoring (10 July 2016). "No one deserves Nobel more than Edhi, says Malala". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan's 'Father Teresa' who 'adopted' 20,000 children". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  21. ^ a b Web Desk (9 July 2016). "ABDUL SATTAR EDHI LAID TO REST IN KARACHI". Radio Pakistan. Archived from the original on 10 July 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  22. ^ Web Desk (9 July 2016). "Serving from cradle to death". The Nation News Paper. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi | Pakistani humanitarian". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Pakistan's saviour of the desperate". BBC News. 15 March 2001. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  25. ^ "Statement of American Ambassador David Hale on the Passing of Abdul Sattar Edhi | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Pakistan". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Pakistan. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Organizational Chart – Edhi Welfare Organization". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  27. ^ India Today, Volume 15, Part 2 1990.
  28. ^ Boone, Jon (1 April 2015). "'They call him an infidel': Pakistan's humble founder of a charity empire". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  29. ^ Khan, M Ilyas (29 January 2008). "Pakistan aid worker stuck in US". BBC News. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  30. ^ Boone, Jon (13 July 2016). "Abdul Sattar Edhi obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  31. ^ Rashid, Bilal (2 February 2019). "No Religion is Higher than HUMANITY: Abdul Sattar Edhi". Medium. Archived from the original on 7 December 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  32. ^ Valiji, Asif (10 July 2016). "Abdul Sattar Edhi - What Do All Religions Have In Common?". Legends Report. Archived from the original on 31 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  33. ^ Macphail, Cameron (28 February 2017). "Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan's 'Father Teresa' who 'adopted' 20,000 children". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  34. ^ Richard Covington (2 September 2008). "What One Person Can Do". In David Elliot Cohen (ed.). What Matters: The World's Preeminent Photojournalists and Thinkers Depict Essential Issues of Our Time. Sterling Publishing. pp. 309–323. ISBN 978-1-4027-5834-8.
  35. ^ Far Eastern Economic Review 1996.
  36. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi: He was a hero to Pakistan's poor and needy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  37. ^ "Renowned Pakistani Philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi Dies at 88". voanews.com. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  38. ^ "Pakistani Humanitarian". pbs.org.
  39. ^ "Muttahida denies Edhi's allegations". Dawn News.
  40. ^ "Death Of Abdul Sattar Edhi Silent Message by Maulana Tariq Jameel". youtube.com.
  41. ^ Rabbani, Faraz. "The great Muslim philanthropist, Abdul-Sattar Edhi, returns to his Lord". SeekersGuidance.
  42. ^ Edhi suffers from kidney failure, to stay on dialysis rest of his life. The Express Tribune. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  43. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi passes away". The Express Tribune. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  44. ^ Times, The Sindh (9 July 2016). "Abdul Sattar Edhi laid to rest at the Edhi Village Karachi – The Sindh Times". thesindhtimes.com. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  45. ^ Parvez Jabri (9 July 2016). "19-Gun Salute presented to Edhi's Coffin". Business Recorder. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  46. ^ "Army Chief, President, Senate Chairman, others offer Edhi's funeral". Dunya News. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  47. ^ "DHA Karachi renames Beach Avenue after Abdul Sattar Edhi". Express Tribune. Associated Press of Pakistan. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  48. ^ "Karachi's Sea View renames as 'Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue'". The News International. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  49. ^ "Abdul Sattar Edhi: Why Google honours him today". Al Jazeera. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  50. ^ Talqeen Zubairi (13 July 2016). "Special Edhi coin to be issued by State Bank". Dawn News. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  51. ^ "State Bank unveils Rs.50 coin to commemorate Edhi". The News International. Associated Press of Pakistan. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  52. ^ Yasmin Jaffri (22 August 2018). Humanitarian Ties: Why Shahidul Alam Admired Pak Philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi The Wire. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  53. ^ "Citation for Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilqis Bano Edhi". Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. 31 August 1986. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
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  55. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Awards". Edhi Foundation. 8 August 2010. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
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  57. ^ "UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize – Laureates". UNESCO. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  58. ^ "UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence (2009)" (PDF). UNESCO. 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  59. ^ "The Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for the Advancement of Peace". The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
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  61. ^ "Dailytimes – US expresses sorrow over Edhi's death". dailytimes.com.pk. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  62. ^ "Pakistani phlanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, dies aged 88". The Telegraph. Associated Press. 8 July 2016. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  63. ^ H. Merchant, Liaquat (12 July 2016). "Jinnah Award". Dawn. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  64. ^ Tribune person of the year 2013: Your vote, our hero. The Express Tribune. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2016
  65. ^ "PM recommends Abdul Sattar Edhi for Nobel Peace Prize nomination". Express Tribune. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  66. ^ "Campaign for Abdul Sattar Edhi to receive Nobel Peace Prize launched by father of Malala Yousafzai". Birmingham Mail. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  67. ^ "No one deserves Nobel Peace Prize more than Abdul Sattar Edhi, says Malala". Dawn News. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  68. ^ "No one deserves Nobel Peace Prize more than Abdul Sattar Edhi, says Malala Yousafzai". BBC Urdu. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  69. ^ "Najam Sethi for renaming Qaddafi stadium after Edhi". thenews.com.pk. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.


  • Lorenza Raponi; Michele Zanzucchi (2013), Half of Two Paisas: The Extraordinary Mission of Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, Translated from Italian by Lorraine Buckley, Oxford University Press, Pakistan, p. 172, ISBN 978-0-19-906852-4
  • Yasmin Jaffri; Oskar Verkaaik (2011), "Sacrifice & Dystopia: Imagining Karachi through Edhi", Urban Navigations: Politics, Space and the City in South Asia (Cities and the Urban Imperative), Routlegde, India, pp. 319–37, ISBN 978-1138665026
  • Tehmina Durrani (1996), Abdul Sattar Edhi, An Autobiography: A Mirror to the Blind, A. Sattar Edhi Foundation, Pakistan

External links[edit]