The Religion of Humanitarianism

“My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world,” said Abdul Sattar Edhi, the late (1928-2016) Pakistani humanitarian and philanthropist whose eponymous foundation runs hospitals, shelters and orphanages throughout his country.

Mr. Edhi was also a huge proponent of religious tolerance in his native Pakistan and around the world. In an age where unspeakable acts of violence and intolerance are all too often committed in the name of “religion,” we would do well to remember the true nature and mission of religion, which is, among other things, to promote the truth that we are members of a ‘Brotherhood of Man’ and, as such, responsible for the well-being of all men and women on this Earth. This is, and must be, a common denominator of all religions.

We can’t all be an “Abdul Sattar Edhi,” but it doesn’t mean that we cannot, every day, perform an act of humanitarianism, no matter how small, in our personal lives or our environments.

Mr. Edhi not only “talked the talk” but “walked the walk” by investing, throughout his life, virtually all of his time, energy and passion into helping those in need who could not easily help themselves. We can’t all be an “Abdul Sattar Edhi,” but it doesn’t mean that we cannot, every day, perform an act of humanitarianism, no matter how small, in our personal lives or our environments. 

Each of us has the capacity to do something daily to uplift humankind, or even just a fellow man, whether to offer encouragement, lend a helping hand, donate a dollar, or whatever it might be. Merely speaking out against acts that push a person, or a whole segment of society, down into the mud, is a humanitarian act. And whenever or wherever one sees a religion or religious group living up to its responsibilities by improving the lot of those in their midst—support them, help them, commend them, give them a high five.

In these ways, we make a world where one and all can have the chance to flourish, prosper and lead a happy life—little by little, one step at a time.

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