Daily Archive : Monday July 25, 2016




Life & Entertainment



    Life of Muslim philanthropist should not be hidden treasure

    “Make poverty the imprimatur of your life.” The renowned Urdu poet/philosopher Allama Iqbal wrote. “Never sell your soul for riches; make your name living in poverty,” he added. This advice in a little couplet elegantly sums up the way Abdul Sattar Edhi, the legendary Pakistani philanthropist, lived. Edhi passed away on July 8. He epitomized the sentiment in the couplet by living on two pairs of clothes, which he wore till they had holes in them that he then patched up. He was following the tradition set by the Prophet Muhammad. Edhi managed a Foundation worth millions but died penniless by choice.Edhi is well known and admired in South Asia and among Muslims worldwide as a fabled social worker, but is barely recognized outside these groups. Upon learning of his passing, one of my initial reactions was that the United States may remain unaware his life story. That would be a shame, as he is a role model not just for Muslims and South Asians but also for all of humanity. His life should not remain a hidden treasure.Edhi’s values were all-embracing. He made a point of demonstrating this early in his life. Born in undivided India, he moved with his village community to Karachi, Pakistan, at the time of partition in 1947. In Karachi, he worked as a commission agent in wholesale. He was initially involved with a free medical clinic that served his Memon community exclusively. The Memons are a Muslim group with origins mostly in Gujarat, India. They are a close-knit group that takes care of its own.The restricted nature of the clinic did not sit well with Edhi. He argued with his fellow Memons that limiting charity to a group diminishes it. He was shouted down and left the clinic.A turning point in his life was the flu epidemic in the city of Karachi in 1957, which affected hundreds of thousands of poor. He saw numerous flu victims lying down on sidewalks with no help. He decided to get benches so that they could at least get off the sidewalk, and he rented a small room to nurse for them. He literally begged passers-by for help and ordinary folks gave money.Gradually, the word spread. He was not an orator or a charismatic personality. It was his evident honesty and transparent sincerity that earned him the admiration and respect of millions, and money continued to pour in. Over his 60-year career, he was able to set up shelters for the homeless and programs of orphans all over Pakistan. He started a foundation and later a trust.The Edhi Foundation and Trust have not only rescued thousands of orphans and abandoned infants but also run numerous food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, and shelters for women and clinics for the mentally disabled.His philanthropy was not only inclusive but also singularly nonjudgmental. Hallmarks of his centers are the cradles, Jhoolas, placed outside the building; a startling sight when you are driving down the street. Anyone who could not care for their child could drop off their infant without questions asked. In a society where a child born out of wedlock is a stigma and where severe poverty may force a parent to give up an infant, this option is remarkable. It is akin to the Safe Haven laws in the United States that started in 1999. The Jhoola initiative started in 1952. That is a testimonial to his foresight and that of his wife Bilquis.He was influenced by both his parents but in particular his mother. Edhi recalled that his mother would give two coins when he left for school — one for lunch money and the other to give to a poor person. His mother died when he was 19 following a prolonged illness that needed daily care. This made him even more sensitive to the needs of the old and the sick.Edhi was stunningly fearless. He would jump in to retrieve the injured and dead in the middle of any conflict. Bullets would be flying around, mobs would be rampaging but he did not seem to care.


    Are we ready to give up on democracy?
    A Schaumburg letter to the editor: It’s unimaginable that the presidency of this country can go from the sublimity of inspiration of one man to the ludicrous absurdity of another in one day.


    Good reason to stand behind Longmeadow
    A Sleept Hollow letter to the editor: Contrary to the views expressed by another writer, Kane County Chairman Lauzen should be commended for his continued support of the Longmeadow Parkway and bridge.


    Pols try to thwart will of people on map
    A Huntley letter to the editor: Recently, I was pleased to help gather signatures on a petition to put the Independent Map Amendment on the Illinois ballot this fall. More than 560,000 registered voters signed the petition during the process.


    Illinois’ vaudeville act getting very old
    A west Chicago letter to the editor: Lou Lang, Illinois House assistant majority leader, was on Dick Kay’s radio show on WCPT the other day, painting himself as the picture of bipartisanship.


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