By M Zeb KhanJuly 14, 2016Print : Opinion
A purposeless life is no life at all but most of us even do not ponder over the question of what makes life meaningful let alone living a meaningful life. Many believe life is about the pursuit of happiness; very few believe it is about leaving behind a legacy – creating a lasting impact on humanity.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was among those who transcended his ‘self’ and lived for others as a means of self-actualisation. He is now physically dead but spiritually alive in the form of his selfless service and devoted efforts for the poor.
Edhi was an ordinary individual with extraordinary spirit. He inspired millions to help the hopeless and hapless regardless of who they are and what they do. For him, the only universal religion to profess and spread was love. He spearheaded charity in Pakistan and became the icon of mercy. Very few may have done so much in such a short period.
Besides the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world’s largest ambulance service, he established the Edhi Trust (later renamed as Bilquis Edhi Trust) and many welfare centres that operate as rehabilitation homes, shelters for children, and clinics for the mentally handicapped throughout Pakistan.
Edhi could have lived a different life – a life most of us would like to have – but he chose to live like a saint. He expressed his faith in a way that many preachers and scholars would have a hard time explaining in a hundred years. He embodied the spirit of Islam – compassionate, considerate, and peaceful. The Prophet (PBUH) had always wished his followers to embrace Islam in totality with relatively more importance given to Haqooqul-Ibad (the rights of human beings).
But for unknown reasons, the Haqooqul-Ibad part of Islam has largely remained an uncharted and neglected territory. A few days back, on the eve of Eidul Fitr, a third-year medical student was shot dead in Dir in cold blood. In the funeral sermon, the maulvi was repeatedly warning the audience about how the act of women going to the bazaars has led to obscenity in conservative areas like Dir.
He did not utter a single word about how sacred the life of an individual is and what can be done to stop injustice and oppression in society. He urged everyone to send their children to madressahs as a sure path of success in this world and in the life hereafter.
The state, which has the primary responsibility to protect the vulnerable and promote welfare of its citizens, has also failed to honour its obligations. The rulers are busy competing with each other on how to retain or attain power. They are least bothered by who dies of curable diseases; they do not feel the pain of the displaced and dispossessed; and they do not empathise with the destitute living in miserable conditions. They measure their success by the amount of wealth they accumulate, the number of farmhouses they own, and the luxurious life they enjoy.
People like Edhi then appear on the horizon to fill the vacuum created by callous rulers and one-dimensional maulvis. Instead of hitting his head against the wall, Edhi preferred to set a personal example as a proven way of eliminating despair and anomie from society. He emulated the Prophets (peace be upon them) and saints in magnanimity and charity. He conquered himself by eliminating or controlling base desires such as lust for power and wealth, vanity, and envy.
He, however, did not remain content with personal piety. He elevated his soul by putting it in the service of others. As a tribute to the humility and service of Edhi, we need to carry on his legacy with full vigour and honesty for future generations to idealise it as a different path to eternal peace and salvation.
The writer teaches at the Sarhad University. Email: [email protected]