KARACHI: One who has no one to care for will always find God on his side. While death is for real, there is no other blessing like having the chance to visit Allah's home in Makkah and the Green Dome of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Madina for many faithful.
The moving story of 70-year old Idreesa Khatoon, a resident at Karachi's FC Area neighbourhood, has inspired many after her interview was first published by The Express Tribune earlier this year.
Khatoon takes pride in taking care of herself and her ailing brother on her own by selling different household items mainly garments for women and children on her pushcart. Despite losing her parents and two brothers and leaving an indolent husband in her teenage, Khatoon refused to give in. The entire neighbourhood is witness to the way she values self-respect and would not take even a rupee as a support.
On good days, Khatoon and Maqbool, her brother, earn between Rs400 and Rs500. Some days though, they are unable to make a single sale. These days are the worst for Khatoon. She worries constantly about where the next meal would come from. The rent for the room alone costs Rs5,000 per month.
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And despite her own tight financial situation, Khatoon makes it a point to feed one needy person every day, hoping that the blessings of her good deed go to her deceased relatives.
"One day, I hope God blesses me with the opportunity to visit Makkah and Madina," she had wished in her last interview. And now it appears Khatoon’s wish has come true thanks to a welfare organisation, Akhuwat.
“All arrangements are complete. I will set off for Saudi Arabia early Saturday morning for Umrah,” Khatoon said, overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. “Allah heard my plea. I am fortunate that He has made me His guest. I will pray for peace and prosperity of the country while I am at Ka’aba,” she said, thanking the Express Media Group and Akhuwat for making her wish come true. “Allah willing, I would also be able to perform Hajj one day,” she added.
Khatoon's neighbours are also elated at her departure for the holy land. “We are extremely happy to see her perform Umrah,” said neighbour Arif Khan. “She has a strong will and sense of respect. She would not even take a rupee as charity.”
“I wish her all the best,” said Nasreen Kausar, another neighbour.
Akhuwat's regional manager for Sindh Hamid Khan maintained that he had learnt about Khatoon’s condition from the Express Media Group after which he established contact with her tried to extend financial help but it was declined. “Later on, keeping in view her desire to perform Umrah, we persuaded her and now she is leaving for the holy land.”