Abdul Sattar Edhi
Abdul Sattar Edhi
عبد الستار ایدھی
|Born||28 February 1928|
|Died||8 July 2016 (aged 88)|
|Resting place||Edhi Village, Karachi|
|Other names||Angel of Mercy|
The Richest Poor Man
Abdul Sattar Edhi NI LPP GPA (Urdu: عبد الستار ایدھی; 28 February 1928 – 8 July 2016) was a Pakistani humanitarian, philanthropist and ascetic who founded the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world's largest volunteer ambulance network, along with various homeless shelters, animal shelters, rehabilitation centres, and orphanages across Pakistan. 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.
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. He is known amongst Pakistanis as the "Angel of Mercy" and is considered to be Pakistan's most respected and legendary figure. In 2013, The Huffington Post claimed that he might be "the world's greatest living humanitarian".
Edhi maintained a hands-off management style and was often critical of the corruption commonly found within the religious organizations, clergy and politicians. 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. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Malala Yousafzai. Edhi received several awards including the Gandhi Peace Award, Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize and the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize.
The Edhi Foundation and Bilquis Edhi Trust
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. He subsequently founded the Edhi Foundation. 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. 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. 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.
The Edhi Foundation is funded entirely by private donations and full services are offered to people irrespective of ethnicity, religion or status. 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. 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. 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.
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. He was called Pakistan's equivalent of Mother Teresa by India Today in 1990, and the BBC wrote that he was considered "Pakistan's most respected figure and was seen by some as a saint."
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.
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.
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". 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. In 1965, Edhi married Bilquis, a nurse who worked at an Edhi Trust dispensary. They had four children, two daughters and two sons. 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. 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. 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. Prominent Pakistani figures such as Maulana Tariq Jamil and Pakistani−Canadian Sheikh Faraz Rabbani often expressed their strong support for Edhi and his work.
Illness and death
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. 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. He was laid to rest at Edhi Village in Karachi.
Reactions and Funeral
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." Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif called him a "true humanitarian".
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.
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.
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. Edhi became the only social worker and the fifth Pakistani personality to have been honoured with a commemorative coin.
Honours and awards
- Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986)
- Lenin Peace Prize (1988)
- Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International (1993)
- Peace Prize from the former USSR, for services during the Armenian earthquake disaster (1988)
- Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000), UAE
- International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy
- Peace and Harmony Award (2001), Delhi
- Peace Award (2004), Mumbai
- Peace Award (2005), Hyderabad Deccan
- Gandhi Peace Award (2007), Delhi
- Seoul Peace Prize (2008), Seoul
- Honorary doctorate from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
- UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009)
- Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize (2010)
- Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bedfordshire (2010)
- London Peace Award (2011), London
- Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons (1962–1987)
- Moiz ur rehman Award (2015)
- The Social Worker of Sub-Continent by Government of Sindh (1989)
- Nishan-e-Imtiaz, civil decoration from the Government of Pakistan (1989)
- Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during the 1980s by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan (1989)
- Pakistan Civic Award from the Pakistan Civic Society (1992)
- Jinnah Award for Outstanding Services to Pakistan was conferred in April 1998 by The Jinnah Society. This was the first Jinnah Award conferred on any person in Pakistan.
- Shield of Honor by Pakistan Army (E & C)
- Khidmat Award by the Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences
- Bacha Khan Aman (Peace) Award in 1991
- Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society
- 2013 Person of the Year by the readers of The Express Tribune
In 2011, then-Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani recommended Edhi for a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. 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. 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".
- Ansar Burney
- Ramzan Chhipa
- Sardar Kaure Khan Jatoi
- Saylani Welfare Trust
- List of philanthropists
- Ruth Pfau
- Adibul Hasan Rizvi
- Hakim Said
- These Birds Walk, a 2013 documentary following a pair of boys taken in by Edhi's foundation
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- Kohli, Suneeti Ahuja. "Angel of mercy". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
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- "Organizational Chart – Edhi Welfare Organization". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
- India Today, Volume 15, Part 2 1990. sfn error: no target: CITEREFIndia_Today,_Volume_15,_Part_21990 (help)
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- Far Eastern Economic Review 1996. sfn error: no target: CITEREFFar_Eastern_Economic_Review1996 (help)
- "Abdul Sattar Edhi: He was a hero to Pakistan's poor and needy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
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- Rabbani, Faraz. "The great Muslim philanthropist, Abdul-Sattar Edhi, returns to his Lord". SeekersGuidance.
- Edhi suffers from kidney failure, to stay on dialysis rest of his life. The Express Tribune. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
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- Parvez Jabri (9 July 2016). "19-Gun Salute presented to Edhi's Coffin". Business Recorder. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- "Army Chief, President, Senate Chairman, others offer Edhi's funeral". Dunya News. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- "DHA Karachi renames Beach Avenue after Abdul Sattar Edhi". Express Tribune. Associated Press of Pakistan. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
- "Karachi's Sea View renames as 'Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue'". The News International. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
- "Abdul Sattar Edhi: Why Google honours him today". Al Jazeera. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Talqeen Zubairi (13 July 2016). "Special Edhi coin to be issued by State Bank". Dawn News. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
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- Yasmin Jaffri (22 August 2018). Humanitarian Ties: Why Shahidul Alam Admired Pak Philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi The Wire. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
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- "The Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for the Advancement of Peace". The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
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- "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
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Abdul Sattar Edhi|
- Official website
- on YouTube Short documentary. Retrieved 25 March 2016
- Ali Kapadia (10 July 2016). "When I met Edhi". Medium.
- Oborne, Peter (10 April 2008). "The day I met Abdul Sattar Edhi, a living saint". Telegraph. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Abdul Sattar Edhi, philanthropist known as the 'Father Teresa' of Pakistan". Obituary. Telegraph. 21 July 2016.
- "Abdul Sattar Edhi – A Ray of Hope in Barren Hearts". Economy. Economy.pk. 5 July 2020.