Islamic Relief USA - Edhi

Google & IRUSA Reflect on Edhi’s Legacy

If you loaded the Google homepage today, then you noticed the logo’s tribute to humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan’s “Angel of Mercy.” He is known and loved for devoting his life to serving humanitarian endeavors in Pakistan, and most notably for founding the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network. He passed away last year, but today he would have been 89 years old. Seeing Google’s doodle today alongside my colleagues at Islamic Relief USA had a special meaning in light of the work we do everyday. In the non-profit humanitarian field, much of the work is hectic, fast-paced, and at times draining. Moments of reflection and pause are sometimes few and far between. Today, even beyond this realm, Edhi’s legacy brought us relief in the form of reflection. Below are some of our thoughts on Edhi’s words. We hope they inspire your own reflections, and encourage you to think of what legacy you will leave behind.

Islamic Relief USA - Edhi[Screenshot from Google]

“I do not have any formal education. What use is education when we do not become human beings? My school is the welfare of humanity.”

“I like this quote because it says that being a human being can’t be learned from a textbook, it’s learned through experiences. I remember the old Lauryn Hill line, “your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb.” So you can actually become very educated, but it’s applying what you learn, it’s applying the lessons that you gained from experiences, that make you a human being who actually benefits society. I think that’s what this quote really is all about. Some of the smartest people we’ve had in the world have been criminals, were masterminds of evil things. It goes to show that it’s not just knowledge, it’s how you apply it. Even some of the largest corporations in the world that have changed Earth as we know it have been people who have dropped out of high school, who just caught spark of something they wanted to do and chased it until they achieved it. Education gives you the tools, but you choose how you use them. I’m probably one of the people who can say I’ve learned more from what happened to me at school than I did in class. Organizations like ours are built on the backs of volunteers and we never ask for their degrees, only their dedication to the cause.”

-Said, International Volunteer Manager at IRUSA

“The Holy Book should open in your souls, not on your laps. Open your heart and see God’s people. In their plight you will find Him.”

“The reason why I connect with this quote is because I’m always concerned that we are keeping religion for ourselves and not acting on it through service. The purpose of religion is to serve God through our service to humanity. Many times you see people who are knowledgeable in Islam, but how often does that impact relations with neighbors, with co-workers, with family or with those in need? The Qur’an is not just words for us to read, but a guide for how we should live.”

-Sharif, Advocacy Counsel at IRUSA

“People have become educated, but have not become human.”

“For me, this resonates with what’s going on in our information-saturated world, where there’s so much information out there, so many channels to increase knowledge on certain practices, but at what cost? While we’re so involved in educating ourselves and moving up in the world, we’re losing that sense of the basic human condition, where we care about one another––it’s about community. Where if one of us is moving forward, we’re not forgetting the people behind us, we’re pulling them with us. The more advancement we have in the worldly sense, the more of a responsibility we have to give. When my dad shared with me Edhi’s story he said he was man who started helping his community with simple things like bread and shelter. But the more he gave, the more he was given. If we take that model of giving selflessly, we’ll be given so much more than what we could have imagined. He is extremely special to Pakistanis, but his model is for all of humanity.”

-Ali, Graphic Designer at IRUSA

“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.”

“This quote is everything. I can’t say what exactly he meant at the time he said it, but I know what it means to me. The very idea of even considering someone’s beliefs before offering to help them goes against the teachings of Islam. Therefore, asking such a question would essentially make the asker lower than the ambulance, who asks nothing and only exists as a vehicle to carry the injured, the helpless, the hurting, to relief. Similarly, we should exist as vehicles to help others in whatever capacity we have been given no matter who they are or where they come from. We should let our kindness be, as Talib al Habib said, like the rain, caring not about whom it falls upon.”

-Chancey, Blog Manager at IRUSA

“Empty words and long praises do not impress God. Show Him your faith by your deeds.”

“It’s so relevant to what we do here. It’s like a wake up call to people who think religiosity is just about doing rituals and engaging in worship. It really shows that there’s a much deeper element to faith that requires you to be more active. And it’s interesting that he equates that to being what is more impressive to God. It’s not impressive or profound for you to be able to seclude yourself and pray excessively if you’re not able to also be out among people and help them. That’s more of a sacrifice, that means more. I think it’s a great ideal to hold, to think about that being the best way to act out your beliefs and to embody them rather than it being just between you and God and nothing else matters. But seclusion isn’t helpful for the community. I think he was someone who has made a huge impact and a lot of people didn’t know who he was outside of his sphere of influence. It’s awesome that Google is highlighting him, so that his sacrifices and his story live on.”

-Bilal, International Programs Coordinator at IRUSA

“My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world.”

“So many people think Islam’s values are different from Judeo-Christian values. They don’t understand that they come from the same tradition. We believe that one God sent many prophets, all with the same basic message: Improve yourself and benefit the people around you. Being a humanitarian is woven into our faith: Fast (and learn empathy for people who are hungry), give charity (and help those who have less than you), stand together in prayer and at hajj (and understand we are all equal). There are so many examples of Muslims like Abdul-Sattar Edhi living as humanitarians. If people would see that, some of the rising hate we see today would disappear.”

-Lina, Writer at IRUSA

Chancey is the Editor-in-Chief for ReliefLab and a Content Creator at Islamic Relief USA. We would love to feature your voice on the blog – send us a message at

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