بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“I am not perfect. Let’s both assume that the other is doing the best she can.”
Weddings are usually such happy occasions, full of love and hope for the future of the bride and groom. As wonderful as it can be, it can also mean mother-in-law problems. Something happens the moment a bride says, “I accept him.” Not only does she get a husband, but in most cases, a mother-in-law as well.
But far too many women describe this relationship as fragile, tense, and even competitive.
It’s no secret that in-laws are the subject of many marital arguments. The rivalry between wives and their mothers-in-law is a major source of tension in many marriages. You may find it interesting that many new brides get along very well with their husband’s parents at first; it isn’t until later—sometimes years later—that friction develops.
Time-after-time, daughters-in-law say things like, “My husband’s parents welcomed me into their family immediately and treated me as their own daughter.” Likewise, “My own in-laws showered me with gifts and included me in everything”. It’s not uncommon for young women to be very fond of their husband’s family, and vice versa… in the beginning.
Later on down the marriage, dealing with in-laws can be an overwhelming challenge—whether you are dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law who believes her opinions are superior to yours—or someone who tries to make you feel guilty whenever your needs conflict with hers. It may be tempting to gossip, hold silent grudges, or cut off all communication with troublesome in-laws – but that often just adds to the problem.
Mother-in-law problems can be one of the biggest issues in an engaged or married couple’s life. In some cases, they’re really more like out-laws. Some mother-in-laws have a way of letting everyone know their displeasure with the new family member over issues big and small – and yet seem to forget their own son or daughter can think or speak for themselves, and in most cases, should.
Why is it that the mother-in-law relationship can be so difficult? When you think about it, it really shouldn’t be. You have so many meaningful things in common: love for the same person, wanting what’s best for that person, and for them to be happy. For some though, it’s these same things that make for fast adversaries.
Some mother-in-law problems arise out of a competition for the attention of the adult child. Because they are now spending all of their time with their new spouse, there may not seem to be room enough for mum, which can be seen as not loving them as much anymore. When they visit mum, of course your spouse is going to take you with them – you’re now a package deal. Mother-in-law’s can be very resentful of having to share time and space with someone else.
Who would know what’s best for their kids better than a mother? As adults, however, we know what’s best for ourselves, not our mum. Some mothers, however, feel that they should reign supreme over our lives – even when we’re 45-years-old. It can be a hard habit for parents to break and some never feel compelled to stop parenting, even adult children. What makes that more difficult is that some of us don’t know how to let our mothers know that we are now adults who think for ourselves.
No one wants or needs their mother-in-law (or future one) telling them what’s best for their partner or worse, guilt-tripping them because of some imaginary slight or that they don’t measure up to her expectations. Big or small, whatever the issue may be, if she can’t refrain from commenting or speaking out inappropriately, it’s up to our spouse to talk to her. This can be difficult for our partners since for some it can seem unthinkable to speak out “against” their mother and be independent.
Advice for mother-in-laws:
- Pray for your daughter in law, rather than prey on her. Hope and pray that the marriage of your son will be successful. Don’t sit in the background and hope for your daughter-in-law to fail. Ask Allah to show you how to love your daughter-in-law as your own daughter.
- Try to be understanding more than criticising. Ask questions to understand. Don’t tell your daughter-in-law how things should be. Don’t expect your son to do what you want him to do anymore. Expect and encourage him to consult with his wife. Rather than question or criticize your daughter-in-law, speak to her and reason with her.
- Compliment your daughter-in-law; never complain about her. Honour your daughter-in-law in the presence of your son. Compliment your daughter-in-law; never complain. Make an effort to applaud, praise, and thank your daughter-in-law. Tell her how much you appreciate her positive influence on your son and why you think she’s a good mother. Your daughter-in-law may be different from you. Accept her for who she is. Realise that your daughter-in-law wasn’t raised the same way you raised your son and maybe doesn’t have the same standards you have. Perhaps she is from a different family or caste or race…Try to understand her mind set and the way her family operated. Do not try to change her into who you would like her to be.
- Act like a family, fight like a family, not an enemy. Encourage your son to build, develop, and define his marriage role. Don’t fight for position by grasping and grabbing for your son’s time and emotions. Good mums want their kids to have good marriages. If you are a family, act like one. Families fight, they discuss their issues and that’s how they get resolved. This can be done lovingly and constructively, not destructively! It doesn’t have to be a he said/she said/you said situation. Tiptoeing around the problems and acting like they don’t exist doesn’t help anyone, it only hurts everyone in the long run. Ask your daughter-in-law to let you know if/when you offend her. Remember that Shaytan wants to destroy your relationship.
- Your son isn’t perfect, not before marriage and certainly not after. Remember that your son has always had faults. Your child was not perfect before she married him. You love your son, so does your daughter-in-law. Every change that you see in your son is not her doing. Every change that you see in your son is not her doing.
A good mother-in-law doesn’t make the wife feel like she doesn’t measure up, or give the impression that she wishes her son would have made a ‘better’ choice. A good mother-in-law encourages, accepts, and loves unconditionally. Allow your daughter-in-law to disagree and know that it isn’t something personal. Don’t be offended if a daughter-in-law does not share your tastes, dreams, and values. Tell her about decisions you faced as a mother of infants, toddlers, teenagers, young adults, etc. Talk about more than superficial things. Get to know her for the person Allah created her to be. Then, come alongside her to mentor, encourage, and build a relationship so that if/when you need to give loving input or direction, it is not taken as meddling. Express your gratitude towards her: “You truly are the wind beneath my son’s sails and I really appreciate and love you. You understand my son far better than I do, and I thank Allah for you.” “I’ve got the best daughter-in-law God could give. I am so blessed.” Finally, offer to take care of the grandkids so your daughter-in-law can have a day to herself.
Okay, mothers-in-law, there’s the list. What are we going to do about it?
The second year of my son’s marriage, he and his wife had Thanksgiving with us. My daughter-in-law made a delicious sweet potato casserole. My mother and I complemented her on it and asked for the recipe. “It’s a family recipe,” my daughter-in-law said. “So I don’t give it out.” —Anonymous mother-in-law
Whoa! I had thought that daughters-in-law were the ones with the in-law stories. Well, apparently mothers-in-law have their share of stories, too.
One mother-in-law wrote something that brought back memories. “That little boy that brought me dandelions and messy hugs,” she said, “is now a grown man with a family of his own. I need to fully release him so he is allowed to change and adapt to his wife and adult life. I don’t want to be a parent who says or does things that grate in the mind of my daughter-in-law. She is the one who knows my son best now.”
Yes, a mom relinquishes her title of “first lady” in her son’s life on his wedding day. Perhaps that’s why some have described the relationship between a mother- and daughter-in-law as fragile or tense. Allah certainly didn’t intend it to be that way.
Advice for daughter-in-laws:
- She is still his mother, she gave birth to him. Even though you are the woman in her son’s life now, be considerate of the fact that she used to be the woman in his life. The most important thing that you can do for your mother-in-law is to love her son unconditionally…You’ve now taken the spot as her son’s biggest
- Respect her for who she is, think of her as your own mother. Don’t try to change your mother -in-law. Accept her eccentricities. Realise that she may do things differently in her home, try to understand her ways. Especially, if you live with them. Bear in mind her age, think of your elderly parents.
- Do not assume things, rather ask and clarify. If I have offended you, I may not know this. You have the freedom to say to me, nicely, ‘Remember when you said ______. Did you mean _____?’ I am not perfect. Let’s both assume that the other is doing the best she can. Don’t judge, there are two sides to any story.
- Remember, you are family and not foes! Ring your mother-in-law off your phone not your son’s phone. Take her out, just the two of you. Go shopping! Discover what you have in common. Keep your in-laws informed of their grandchildren, don’t deprive them.
- Express gratitude, not a bad attitude! Post on your Facebook page: ‘I am thankful for my mother-in-law! I am so grateful for our great relationship. It is so important! And ever since I got married our relationship has become so natural and I love spending time with her!’ Please take time to express your appreciation for a gift by writing a note or calling just to say, ‘Thanks!’ If she or any of your in-laws visit you welcome them in with a smile, prepare something special for them. Show your happiness, don’t block yourself from them.
Some mothers- and daughters-in-law form close friendships very quickly. For others, this may take years. But most mothers- and daughters-in-law do want to connect with each other. They want to find common ground. They want to know each other as individual women with feelings, beliefs, and ideas. Do not fight your mother-in-law over your husband and same to the mother-in-law over your son. If the daughter-in-law cooks something or buys something for her husband, please do not compete with her for praises.
Of course this was nearly two years after the report that showed strong evidence of genocide of Burma’s Muslim by its government.
(In 1999 I wrote Kosova: Where were the Muslims. Nearly two decades later it is the same story. This article is an adaptation of the earlier article).
Let’s stop these ‘meaningless’ broadcasts!
Abu Huraira reported (Allah be pleased with him): The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Do you know who is bankrupt?” They said, “The one without money or goods is bankrupt.” The Prophet said, “Verily, the bankrupt of my nation are those who come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, but also with insults, slander, consuming wealth, shedding blood, and beating others. The oppressed will each be given from his good deeds. If his good deeds run out before justice is fulfilled, then their sins will be cast upon him and he will be thrown into the Hellfire.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2581
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ أَتَدْرُونَ مَا الْمُفْلِسُ قَالُوا الْمُفْلِسُ فِينَا مَنْ لَا دِرْهَمَ لَهُ وَلَا مَتَاعَ فَقَالَ إِنَّ الْمُفْلِسَ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِصَلَاةٍ وَصِيَامٍ وَزَكَاةٍ وَيَأْتِي قَدْ شَتَمَ هَذَا وَقَذَفَ هَذَا وَأَكَلَ مَالَ هَذَا وَسَفَكَ دَمَ هَذَا وَضَرَبَ هَذَا فَيُعْطَى هَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ وَهَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ فَإِنْ فَنِيَتْ حَسَنَاتُهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُقْضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ أُخِذَ مِنْ خَطَايَاهُمْ فَطُرِحَتْ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ طُرِحَ فِي النَّارِ
2581 صحيح مسلم كتاب البر والصلة والآداب باب تحريم الظلم
“Islam has provided everything for both men and women. It gave women everything —freedom, economic rights, political rights, social rights, public and private rights. Islam gave women rights in the family granted by no other society. Women may talk of liberation in Christian society, Jewish society, or pagan society, but in Islamic society it is a grave error to speak of the liberation of women. The Muslim woman must study Islam so she will know that it is Islam that has given her all her rights.”
Influences and Historical Context
Zaynab al-Ghazali’s father, a local religious leader, encouraged her to be both a strong woman and integrate religion in every aspect of her life. Inspired by her father, her piety, and the milieu of Egyptian nationalism, al-Ghazali began her career as an Islamic feminist at the age of 16 by joining the Egyptian Feminist Union followed by her establishment of the Muslim Women’s association at the age of 18.
al-Ghazali’s activism emerged within the context of Egyptian women’s expanding agency and was influenced by three decades of the Egyptian nationalist movement. In response to the post-colonialism and the forming of Egyptian national identity, women expanded and asserted their social agency, especially in relation to women’s involvement in charitable associations. These forms of social activism marked women’s entry into public and political life. The emergence of a variety of women’s associations can generally be divided into two fields: secular feminism and Islamic feminism.
Muslim Women’s Association
Secular groups, such as the Egyptian Feminist Union, focused their discourse on gender issues and equal rights. In contrast, al-Ghazali asserted that Islam had provided women all the rights that secular feminists were concern with. She charged that the focus on the “woman question” was a reflection of a colonized mentality and Western values. In forming the Muslim Women’s Association, al-Ghazali oriented her activism within traditional Islamic contexts and broadened the goals of her movement to improve society from within. The Association’s concern with providing charitable services and educating women, especially in the field of Qur’anic exegesis, is meant to empower women to be active within the home as well as strengthen the community at large. In keeping with Islamic tradition, al-Ghazali insists that women should play an active role in the public, intellectual and political spheres, as long as such activities do not interfere with a women’s responsibilities to her immediate family. Although al-Ghazali’s discourse reflects similar language as the liberal feminists, the great success of her movement owes to her affirmation of Muslim women’s equality within Islamic tradition.
Cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood
In addition to her involvement as a writer and editor for the al-Da’wah mazagine, al-Ghazali spoke at Ibn Tulun Mosque weekly and established a following of thousands of Egyptian women. As she attained prominence as a female figure in the Islamic opposition to the government, al-Ghazali and the Muslim Women’s Association became affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the two organizations worked closely together, al-Ghazali’s declined Qutb’s invitation to merge the two groups, effectively maintaining autonomy for her organization. al-Ghazali did swear her loyalty to Qutb, but the separation of the organizations later proved beneficial in temporarily shielding the Muslim Women’s Association during the government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
After the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1964, al-Ghazali continued her opposition to the Egyptian government. In 1965, she was arrested and imprisoned on charges of conspiring to assassinate Sadat. During the first year, she was held at al-Qanatir, a men’s prison, along with other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Her memoir, Return of the Pharaoh, recounts the brutal torture inflicted upon her, as well as her mystical experiences that sustained her faith during her imprisonment. Return of the Pharaoh reinforces al-Ghazali’s stature as equivalent, if not stronger, than her male counterparts, as well as an ideal model of female piety and activism.
Academic criticism surrounds al-Ghazali’s paradoxical discourse in reference to the role of women. Although al-Ghazali asserted that women’s role within Islam was rooted within the family structure and responsibilities of the home, al-Ghazali’s activism and involvement in the public sphere challenged the very gender roles she urged other women to abide. Despite these apparent contradictions, al-Ghazali’s success lies in her framing of women’s role as related to the moral and physical responsibilities to the family instead of equal rights. Given her personal situation, as a child-less wife who is first and foremost devoted to God and fulfillment of da’wa, al-Ghazali is not burdened with the same responsibilities of other women, therefore allowing for her active participation in public life. In this way, al-Ghazali shifted her moral responsibility towards the community at large, effectively becoming the mother of the Egyptian Islamist movement.
Legacy and Contemporary Islamic Feminism
al-Ghazali’s influence pervades Islamic feminist discourse and institutional structures. In transforming women’s family obligations to encompass the entire community and grounding women’s equality within the Islamic tradition, al-Ghazali dramatically increased women’s social agency within Egypt. Using Muslim charitable organizations as a public structure within which women could establish their place in the heart of Islamic society, al-Ghazali and the Muslim Women’s Association acted as models within which women affirmed their equality and expanded their influence. As a pioneer of Islamic Feminism, al-Ghazali’s “blend of conservatism, nationalism, feminism and spirituality” continue as the guiding principles of Islamic women today.
Return of the Pharoah relates how, falsely accused of conspiring to kill Jamal ‘Abd an-Nasr, the author was arrested and imprisoned. While awaiting trial she was subjected to the most terrible and inhumane torture. This book describes in a captivating manner the ordeal which this Muslim activist went through in the notorious Egyptian prisons. Instead of dampening her enthusiasm for Islaam and the Islamic movement, the afflictions and savageries in Nasir’s prisons increased her commitment and dedication to the cause of Islaam. This autobiographical work can be considered a historic document in that its author was an active witness to one of the most volatile periods of Egypt’s contemporary history.
The full PDF of this book can be accessed and downloaded from here (please be patient as the book loads).
Some excerpts from “Return of The Pharaoh” (“Ayyaam min Hayatee”):
The condition that she made to her husband prior to their marital bond is as follows:
“However, I believe one day I will take this step that I wish and dream of. If that day comes, and because of it, a clash is apparent between your personal interests and economic activities on the one hand, and my Islamic work on the other, and that I find my married life is standing in the way of Da’wah and the establishment of an Islamic state, then, each of us should go our own way.”
“I cannot ask you today to share with me this struggle, but it is my right on you not to stop me from jihad in the way of Allah. Moreover, you should not ask me about my activities with other Mujahideen, and let trust be full between us. A full trust between a man and a woman, a woman who, at the age of 18, gave her full life to Allah and Da’wah. In the event of any clash between the marriage contract’s interest and that of Da’wah, our marriage will end, but Da’wah will always remain rooted in me.”
“I accept that ordering me to listen to you is amongst your rights, but Allah is greater than ourselves. Besides, we are living in a dangerous phase of Da’wah.”
The response of her husband was: “Forgive me. Carry on your work with Allah’s blessing. If only I could live to see the establishment of an Islamic state and the Ikhwan’s goal achieved! If only I was still in my youth to work with you!”
Description of the persecution on her in prison:
“The next moment the door was locked and a bright light switched on. Now their purpose was revealed; the room was full of dogs! I could not count how many!
Scared, I closed my eyes and put my hands to my chest. Within second the snarling dogs were all over me and I could feel their teeth tearing into every part of my body. Clenching my hands tight into my armpits, I began to recount the Names of Allah, beginning with ‘O Allah! O Allah!’…. I expected that my clothes would be thoroughly stained with blood, for I was sure the dogs had bitten every part of my body. But, incredulously, there was not a single bloodstain on my clothes, as if the dogs had been in my imagination only.”
“I do not know how but I fell asleep while invoking Allah, and it was then that I experienced the first of four visions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that I was to see during my stay in prison. There in front of me, praise be to Allah, was a vast desert and camels with hawdahs as if made of light. On each hawdah were four men, all with luminous faces. I found myself behind this huge train of camels in that vast, endless desert, and standing behind a great, reverent man. This man was holding a halter, which passed through the neck of each camel. I wondered silently: ‘Could this man be the Prophet (peace be upon him)?'”
“Silence has no safeguard with the Prophet, who replied: ‘Zaynab! You are following in the footsteps of Muhammad, Allah’s Servant and Messenger.'”`
“I remained in my cell for six consecutive days: from Friday 20th August to Thursday 26th August 1965. My cell door, during these six days was never opened. I was given neither food, drink, allowed to go to the toilet nor any contact with the outside world, except my warder who, now and then, peeped through the small hole in my cell door. You can imagine, dear reader, how a person can live in such circumstances.”
“Write down the names of all your acquaintances on the face of this earth. If you don’t, we will shoot you where you stand. Write down the names of all your Ikhwan acquaintances and everything about your relationship with them.
They then left the cell, closing the door behind them. I wrote: ‘I have many friends, in many countries, who have known me through Islamic da’wah. Our movements on this earth are for Allah, and He leads those who choose His path. This path is the same as that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions followed before us. Our aim is to spread Allah’s message and to call for the implementation of His rule. I call you, in the Name of Allah, to leave your Jahiliyyah, renew your Islam, pronounce the Shahadah and submit and repent to Allah from this darkness that has swathed your hearts, and which prevents you from doing any good deed. If you do so, perhaps Allah will take you out of this abyss of Jahiliyyah and bring you to the light of Islam.”
“Then, at the Adhan of Fajr, I prayed, raising my hands and invoking Allah: “O Allah! If You are not angry with me I don’t care, but Your grace is more befitting to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face, That which has enlightened darkness and on Whom the matters of this life and the Hereafter have settled, that Your Curse does not befall me. To You is our obedience until You are pleased and there is no might or strength except with You.”
“His whips found every part of my body, the cruelest thing that Jahiliyyah had known both in terms of cruelty and bestiality. As the torture and pain intensified, I could not suppress my screams any longer; I raised my voice to Allah. I repeated His great Name: ‘O Allah! O Allah!’ Whilst the whips tore into my body, my heart found contentment and affinity with Allah. I lost consciousness but they tried to arouse me to take more punishment. Blood poured from my feet, and unable to pull myself up, I tried to lean on the wall. Safwat persisted with his whip. I begged to be allowed to sit on the floor but Shams Badran shouted: “No! No! Where is your God now? Call Him to save you from my hands! Answer me, where is your God?”
By Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
“All the believers are like one body. If the eye experiences pain then the whole body will experience pain. If the head experiences pain then the whole body will experience pain.” (Muslim)
Together we all form a single body. We are like the limbs and organs of the same body. If we constitute a single body, then if an organ of the body experiences pain, the whole body should feel it. When a person suffers from a severe headache, his eyes will not say, “I have read too much today, therefore I want to rest!” The rest of the body will not say to the head, “It is your problem, you solve it yourself.” The ears will not say, “I am feeling very tired. It is twelve o’ clock midnight; therefore, I want to go to sleep. You sort your problem out.”
This headache becomes a problem for all the organs of the body. The brain thinks, “What shall I do? How may I bring cure to this pain?” The legs will walk towards the telephone, the hand will pick up the receiver, the finger will dial, the ear will listen, the tongue will speak and the mind will absorb what the doctor is saying, hence the whole body will function to bring relief to the head.
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, through this similitude, has taught us that if we see a Muslim brother/sister in pain, then we should also feel pain and grief. How many of us today experience pain at the sight of someone’s suffering? How many of us try to solve the problem? How many of us even listen to the problem? How many of us even bother to say a few words to comfort and console the person? And if we find ourselves helpless in doing anything, then how many of us pray for this person, “O Allāh, remove his/her difficulty.”
This is an extract from the booklet ‘Love & its Limits’
published by the Islāmic Da’wah Academy
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This is a story that carries many life lessons for all of us. The story of Abdul Sattar Edhi, and the legacy he left behind.
‘Edhi’ became a synonym for love, humanitarian service, and selflessness in Pakistan. He commanded respect from Pakistanis and from millions across the world. He won several prominent international prizes for his outstanding humanitarian services. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times. He was decorated with the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, which is the highest honor given to any civilian in Pakistan for their achievements towards world recognition of Pakistan or an outstanding service to the country.
News of his illness in the last few months made many Pakistanis pray wholeheartedly for his health. His death shocked many in the nation. He was given the state funeral attended by thousands of people, including the President, chiefs of military, navy and air force, a large number of politicians, diplomats, civil servants, businessmen, etc.
He was called an Angel of Mercy. Some thought he was the greatest living humanitarian. We know that the Edhi Foundation runs 330 welfare centers across Pakistan and more than 1500 ambulances. But we do not exactly know the number of people (which could be millions without exaggeration) who have directly and indirectly benefited from Edhi ambulances, food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children, and clinics for the mentally handicapped. Edhi Foundation does not just operate in Pakistan, it has carried out relief operations in Africa, Middle East, the Caucasus region, Eastern Europe and the United States. Edhi never differentiated between people, their faith, race or color. He helped everyone who needed help. He humbly requested donations from everyone who could give. He changed the face of welfare work in Pakistan and established an organization which is trusted by everyone, poor and rich, illiterate and educated, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The purpose of this article is not to write a biographical account of Edhi’s life. Rather, I want to list some key qualities which made him the person he was. I want every one of us to learn from Edhi. I wish we can peek through his life and emulate some of his qualities and traits so that we can also reach out to the poor and needy in the way he did. I also hope our children would be inspired by his story, and be motivated to follow suit when they grow up.
Edhi’s compassion drove him to help the helpless, give shelter to the homeless women, give a roof to the street children, feed the hungry, treat the sick and bury the dead… He himself drove an ambulance for 45 years and never drove any other car throughout his life. His heart was always with the needy and deserving and he was constantly thinking about how best to help those most in need. His compassionate heart has a lot to do with serving his own mother. She was paralyzed from a stroke when Edhi was only 11 years old. Looking after his mother and seeing her suffer inspired Edhi to develop services for the aged, immobile people, and physically challenged persons. His mother taught him selflessness also when she used to give him 2 paisas, one for himself and the other for a needy person on the street. This training to be compassionate at an early age had a lot to do with what Edhi became eventually.
Living a life of simplicity
Edhi lived a very simple life. He was known for his ascetic lifestyle. He never owned more than two pairs of simple clothes and shoes. He lived in a simple home with his family. His own office remained a small room with minimum furniture. He never drove any other car except the ambulance. He never took a salary from his foundation. He inculcated this trait in his wife and children who continue to live a life without frills. Edhi remained a focus of local and international media for decades, but this attention never got him distracted or carried away. He kept to his simplicity and true authentic self. This simplicity earned him a lot of respect among the masses.
Upholding a true sense of integrity
Being the largest charitable organization in Pakistan, Edhi Foundation attracted millions of dollars of donations. In its more than five decades of existence, Edhi Foundation never came under scrutiny for misappropriation of funds. Its volunteers, staff, and management are also inspired by Edhi’s own integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. Edhi realized that maintaining his personal, as well as organizational integrity was central to the success of his humanitarian activities which entirely depended on donations.
Dedication to one’s mission
Edhi was a full-time humanitarian worker, organizer, and mobilizer. He dedicated his whole life to the welfare work. Such was the level of his dedication to the causes he supported that he paid no heed to any kind of threats or obstacles in his way. He was criticized by some fundamentalists for supporting babies born out-of-wedlock. His ambulances were attacked by some interest groups. But nothing could deter him from serving humanity.
Edhi was a true patriot. He had migrated to Pakistan from India during the partition of 1947. He believed in the country he chose to live in. Such was the level of his patriotism that he chose to be treated only in Pakistan despite offers from many for treatment abroad. He wanted to live and die in the country he loved so much. He never took donations from anyone except Pakistanis. He believed that native people can solve the problems of their country, and he proved it through the work he did that he sought help only from Pakistanis to solve issues of Pakistanis.
Taking the means and being optimistic
Edhi was a true impatient optimist. He knew that several problems of our world can be solved if we start finding solutions. He started his foundation with a second-hand ambulance. He then felt that the aged who had no one to look after needed his support. He built nursing homes for the aged. He found that children born out-of-wedlock were left on the street without any support, so he went on to put baby cradles outside the Edhi Foundation Centers. He then noticed the misery of divorced women, single mothers, and financially challenged women. He built shelters for them. He started supporting the relief work locally, as well as internationally. Edhi kept on discovering social needs and found simple solutions. Lack of formal education never stood in his way. He was able to find solutions to the social problems as he was truly immersed in the communities and was living the experience of the poor every day.
Being trustworthy out-pours the funds
He never thought that scarcity of resources would be a constraint for his foundation which is involved in a range of humanitarian activities. In fact, resources poured in for every cause he touched. He just stood in the streets and people handed him small and big notes. Children gave him their pocket money. Women gave him their jewelry. Poor gave him their savings. Rich gave him their properties. Everyone donated to Edhi and his foundation. His simplicity, integrity, dedication, and patriotism greatly helped him raise funds from the people. More importantly, his foundation delivered results and demonstrated social impact on the ground.
Sincere, calm and efficient leadership
The Edhi Foundation runs some of the most complex emergency and relief operations as its routine business. Edhi ambulances are the first to reach any emergency. Edhi himself was first to be seen on the site of natural disasters. Be it floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or man-made disasters, Edhi Foundation response time is minimum. Thousands of people volunteer for Edhi Foundation in its relief centers, as well as during emergency situations. This requires a huge and sophisticated logistical operation. A simple man that Edhi was, it is inconceivable how he spearheaded this complexity in a completely unnoticeable manner. Edhi single-handedly masterminded it with the will of Allah . He mobilized millions of dollars without sophisticated media, marketing or communication strategy. His branding was his simplicity, honesty, and integrity.
Edhi himself/his foundation never made any big deal out of the massive relief work they accomplished. He received nearly 250 local and international prizes in recognition of his phenomenal work, but he hardly ever mentioned them with pride. All the pride he took was in the work he did. He was nominated for Nobel Prize several times. But people like him are beyond Nobel Prize. No prize can truly acknowledge their services or contribution to the world we live in. He silently led a large foundation which helped millions through helplessness, sickness, and emergency. According to his own words,
“Whatever I’ve done for the poor, the destitute, the orphans and the less fortunate is not for any person or even myself, it’s for Allah . I’ve always aimed to please Allah .”
Edhi was regularly invited to speak on media, but he never appeared to be pretentious or attention seeker. He did not have a charismatic personality, an articulate speech or deep vocabulary. He spoke in a simple manner but spoke his heart. His message for humanity touched every heart and people believed him without hesitation.
A deep concern for humanity
In the early years of Edhi Foundation, Edhi was often criticized by his community for helping others. But it was very clear that he would extend help to every human in need, regardless of religion, race or color. Edhi lived in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan and one of the largest metropolises of the world. His world vision was also very cosmopolitan. He was of the view that humanity was above everything and he was a true humanitarian for everyone.
Edhi is at peace in his grave, but his eyes continue to see the world as he donated his organs after his death (but due to his poor health, only corneas could be donated). His corneas were transplanted for two blind people who were waiting for an eye donation. This is what he meant to teach each one of us, even after he is no more among us. He is justifiably referred to as ‘the richest poor man’.
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By Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
The Prophet Muhammad sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated:
A (complete and perfect) Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand people are safe. (An-Nasa‘ī)
To be a perfect Muslim it is necessary to fulfil all of the requirements of Islām. One of these is to ensure that one does not cause harm to another human being, Muslim or non-Muslim. This is an extremely important component of the teachings of Islām.
In the above hadīth, the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam’s use of the word ‘tongue’ encompasses all forms of speech, whilst the word ‘hand’ represents all physical actions. It means therefore, that no one can be a perfect Muslim unless the rest of Allāh ta‘ālā’s bondsmen are safe from any harm originating from him.
Someone who performs salāh, pays zakāh, observes fasts, recites the Qur’ān in abundance and gives plenty in sadaqah cannot be classed a perfect believer if at the same time he also causes people heartache through his words or actions. A person who, without any valid reason, causes hurt to another human being is a Muslim, but not a perfect or complete Muslim.
The religion of Islām branches out into five major areas: ‘aqā’id (beliefs), ‘ibādāt(worship), akhlāq (morals and character), mu‘āmalāt (transactions) and mu‘āsharah(etiquettes of social life). The branch of mu‘āsharah, or social etiquettes, is based on the above-mentioned saying of the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam. In today’s climate, there can be no more effective method of popularising Islām than the world’s Muslims embracing this branch of faith and living in accordance with it. If Muslims adopt the Islāmic etiquettes of social interaction, it will dispel the many misunderstandings created about Islām and Muslims, making it much easier for non-Muslims to understand and come closer to Islām.
Adopting the Islāmic way of dealing with people gives rise to occasions when a Muslim’s compassionate nature stands out. Intelligent people invariably pick up on such behaviour and become curious as to why, for example, a Muslim in a position to say or do something hurtful to another person does not do so. A time eventually comes when they enquire from the Muslim in question, presenting an opportunity for him to explain that he was only doing what the Prophet Muhammad sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam taught, and that it is a major principle of Islām that no human being should be caused undue distress.
This is an extract from the booklet ‘Islām: A Message of Mercy’ published by
the Islāmic Da’wah Academy.
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