On Edhi-ism

A beacon for humanity

We are divided today by religion, then sects, then ethnicity, then caste, then on gender basis, then …….

Inequality in societies if not bridged to some degree can threaten the peace and harmony of the very society.  Governments of civilized nations accept the responsibility of providing amenities to its citizens. Providing livelihood, a roof over the heads of poor, needy, those rejected by society. Governments of civilized societies accept the responsibility of providing source of living to the homeless, care for orphans and new born children cast away, of marrying young girls and providing them with dowry…the list is long. Maybe, we are not a civilized nation. Our government failed to do all this and more for its citizens. However, one person did not fail the citizens. He delivered. Even in death he delivered by giving away his cornea to two blind persons. He is Sattar Edhi.

I met him in 1988 in Karachi. My young nieces and nephews organized an evening for family and friends, food stalls, games and a palmist (me) with all proceeds to go to Edhi Foundation. I was pleasantly surprised to see Sattar Edhi Sahib accept the invite of the children and grace the occasion with his presence. A simple man, in the simplest cotton clothes, diffident, quiet but with an air of confidence that only comes from a person who is confident of the one square foot of land he stands on.  From there I became a fan of Edhi Sahib and the great work he continued to do till the very end.

Anywhere there were blasts, calamity, Edhi’s Ambulance would be the first to reach, offer a hand to help, in treatment or giving burial to the unidentified or in any, and other way needed.

He was so above religion, sect and differences that it was almost unreal. Reminded me  of Simon Mainwaring, “We need to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration that supersedes the traditional silos that have divided governments, philanthropies and private enterprises for decades and replace it with networks of partnerships working together to create a globally prosperous society.”

Sattar Edhi Sahib knew only one religion: humanity. He lived his words, My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world.” Having hardly any formal education, he created the biggest welfare organization by virtually nothing- towering over the hotshot businesspersons, politicians, bureaucrats’ et al. He dwarfed them in life and dwarfed them in death. He was serving, serving and serving any and every human being, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. He is quoted as having said, “So, many years later there were many who still complained and questioned, ‘Why must you pick up Christians and Hindus in your ambulance?’ And I was saying, ‘Because the ambulance is more Muslim than you’.”

Brigadier Rashid Ali Malik President APSAA says, Edhi should be coined into a new word; into a concept of life. Of care. We should teach Edhi, about his life, his care and love for humanity as a subject in our curriculum.” I loved this idea. It makes terrific sense. Why not? One Sattar Edhi touched the lives of millions, probably more and changed them. How beautiful and more human our country will be with hundreds and thousands of Sattar Edhi. Farrukh Khan Pitafi a Pakistani bilingual columnist, talk show host and analyst suggests an Edhi Award to the one most deserving on grounds of philanthropy yearly.

To expand on the above two suggestions, Edhi Award can be introduced in schools and colleges as well to encourage practicing philanthropy. Praising Sattar Edhi is just not good enough. Following his practice is. Edhi was larger than life.  He was a phenomenon, an idea. An idea that can change the face of our society if nurtured.  He was right in saying, “Empty words and long praises do not impress God. Show Him your faith by your deeds.”

The reverence commanded by Sattar Edhi is only parallel with the love and reverence commanded by Jinnah himself.  The Telegraph UK writes, “Mr Edhi discovered that many Pakistani women were killing their babies at birth, often because they were born outside marriage. So Mr Edhi placed a little cradle outside every Edhi centre, beneath a placard imploring: “Do not commit another sin: leave your baby in our care.” Mr Edhi has so far saved 35,000 babies and, in approximately half of these cases, found families to cherish them.”


A dear friend tells me how her family including her brothers and cousins have adopted children from Edhi Foundation providing them with loving homes, education and the chance to grow up as well rounded human beings. “Our homes are lit with the purest pleasure one can get in the form of highly intelligent, lovable 6 children.”


The question we need to answer is; do we pay tribute to this great man then relegate him to the sub-text? Do we remember him on his death anniversary once year offering lip service? Do we snuff out the light lit by Sattar Edhi or on the other hand,  pick up the beacon lit by him and sprint forward?

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is [email protected]tweets at @yasmeen_9











Yasmeen Aftab Ali

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: [email protected] and tweets at @yasmeen_9.


  1. Mushtaq Ahmad said:

    This is a very good article written by Yasmeen. Edhi is a light in darkness and he showed as to how you can prove your obedience to God’s teachings .

  2. neutral said:

    A lot to be agreed to. So far this Nation has suffered because of Bhutto-ism (from ZAB to AAZ). Now Edhi-ism added but this 'ism' if put into practice in letter and spirit will provide a lot of relief to the humanity. The people are still waiting for Roti, Kapra aur Makan.

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