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July 10, 2016

Why Edhi sahib had chosen his final resting place 25 years ago


July 10, 2016

Karachi: With heavy clouds in the horizon and a light drizzle adding further to the ambiance of gloom at the Edhi Village on Saturday afternoon where scores of mourners in tears accompanied one of the brightest faces of humanity, Abdul Sattar Edhi, to his final resting place.

The philanthropist, who died at the age of 88, was buried in a grave he had chosen for himself around 25 years ago.

Among the mourners, very few knew why Edhi sahib wanted to be buried at Edhi Village.

One of those who knew was Dr Noor Imam, who had spent time with Edhi sahib as one of his admirers and volunteers.

“Edhi sahib got his grave dug here and later his wife’s too as he was a great admirer of a saint, Alharis Munawwar Amman Gesoo Daraz, who was buried by him here,” Imam told The News at the Edhi Village.

“After the burial of the saint, Edhi sahib decided that his own grave would be near that of the saint.”

Speaking about the saint, Imam said Alharis Munawwar had spent his last three days at the Edhi Home in Sohrab Goth where Edhi sahib kept him under close observation.

“The saint hailed from Hyderabad Deccan, India. As he had no relative, Edhi sahib spoke with me about burying him at Edhi Village. Though Edhi sahib didn’t have a long relationship with the saint, he was impressed by him.”

Edhi sahib, on April 15, 1989, buried the saint at Edhi Village, which at that time comprised only one acre.

“He was hopeful that the burial of the pious man in the heart of village would help him make it functional to serve the poor and needy. Now, it has expanded to so many acres with facilities for orphans, the disabled and other needy ones,” said Imam.

He added that after a few months of the burial, Edhi sahib decided to make the village his own resting place too and later that of his wife.

Later, Edhi turned the grave into a shrine. There is also the shrine of Mehtab Deen alias Miskeen Baba at the village along with that of Alharis Munawwar.

The other saint was buried over there on January 18, 1998.

About the second saint, Dr Imam said he too was a pious man and had lived his last days at the Edhi Centre.

“Miskeen Baba didn’t eat anything for days except a few dates, yet he would found busy in prayers most of the time. Edhi sahib had deep respect for him. After his death, Edhi sahib consulted with his associates and decided to bury him near the shrine of Alharis Munawwar.”

Imam said Edhi sahib had held saints in high esteem and people around him knew about it very well.

Recalling the days spent with the great man, he said once a young man came to Edhi sahib at one of his centres and in tears told him that his sister’s wedding was just a few hours away but his was facing financial problems.

“Almost everyone who was listening to the young man’s cry for help thought that Edhi sahib would definitely give him some money. Instead, Edhi sahib didn’t respond to his repetitive appeals. In fact, he went out of the room after a few minutes without giving him anything.”

Imam added that everyone was shocked as Edhi sahib was usually very generous.

As the boy stepped out, Imam offered to help him.

“I asked him to take me to his home to see if he was telling the truth. As we travelled in my car, I could see him becoming worried. A few moments later when the car stopped at a traffic signal, the man immediately stepped out of the car and ran.”

Imam said he realised that Edhi sahib had already seen through the young man’s lies. “Soon many of his associates and workers realised that if Edhi sahib didn’t assist someone, there was a good reason behind it. In some cases, he knew it because of his spiritual piety and in others it was his wisdom that helped him ascertain the truth.”

Recalling another incident, he said once a missing child came to Edhi sahib when he was present outside one his centres.

“The child was around 10. He was a Sindhi and some people had dropped him at an Edhi centre where Edhi sahib was incidentally present. While Edhi workers were busy on the child’s paperwork so that he could be admitted temporarily and later transported to his home, the child innocently spoke to Edhi sahib in his Sindhi accent. He said if Edhi sahib took him home, he would give him 2kg of ‘asli ghee’.”

Imam added that as Edhi sahib was a kind-hearted person, he joyfully accepted the offer. But when he asked the child where he lived, all that he could answer was some place near Tahir Khan Baagh.

“I was also with Edhi sahib when he took the child in his van to search for his home. It took us several hours to reach his home which was in a slum area of rural Sindh. I was too hungry by the time we reached there, but Edhi sahib only accepted water when he met with the family of the child.”

Imam said Edhi sahib always affectionate towards children. “For kids, he was a jolly friend, sharing jokes with them.”

Talking to The News, Tahira Tariq, a teacher in the mass communication department of the University of Karachi, recalled that when her dog was fatally ill, she took it to the animal care unit of the Edhi Centre.

“Though the dog was dying in a day or two, yet the staff cared after the animal very well. The treatment given to my dog was better than that which is received by humans at our government hospitals. The staff was well trained and working with a proper system of management.”

She said if the late philanthropist had such a deep sense of care for animals, one could only imagine the love that he had for fellow human beings.

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