Educationist Taner Koçyiğit wrote the story of Uncle Abdul Razzaq, one of Lahore’s leading philanthropic businessmen. Koçyiğit narrated the support Uncle Abdul Razzaq provided to the PakTurk Schools and the benevolence he showed to people from all walks of life.
Shortly after I moved to Lahore from Quetta in 2006, I worked in the public relations department besides my administrative duties at the PakTurk Schools. We would meet and visit the parents personally or with families.
Most students were on scholarship, and the children of the city’s leading businesspeople attended our school too. Some affluent parents were elated by the scholarship students, stating they could provide support whenever necessary to ensure more students to study on scholarship. Particularly, the parents who participated in trips to Turkey voiced their wish to contribute financially to scholarship students to the best they could.
Although the climate in Lahore is generally not chilly, the city has humid weather round the year. When the weather cools down, the cold permeates and the winters become colder due to the poor insulation in most buildings. During one of those winter months, when the cold lasted longer, I contracted pneumonia and had to stay at home for about a fortnight. During my illness, Dr. Mehmet, who practiced in Islamabad, came to Lahore and treated me specially there. Thanks to his close concern, he helped me recover quickly.
When he learned my illness, he sent his business card and advice
One day when I was at home due to illness, a classmate of one female Turkish student who studied in a university in Lahore invited her Turkish classmates and my wife to her residence home for dinner. My wife and the students went in rickshaws and they thought they would return home with the same transportation. Realizing this, Mr. Abdul Razzaq, the house owner, thought it would not be safe for ladies to travel in rickshaws in late evening. He offered to drive them to their homes, and dropped both my wife and the students to their homes accompanied by his daughter. When Mr. Abdul Razzaq arrived to drop my wife home, my wife told him I was sick and he gave his business card to my wife, along with some health advice for my quicker recovery.
When I felt a little better after a week, I phoned Mr. Abdul Razzaq to thank him for his concern and to meet him in person. I told him my wish to pay him a courtesy visit at his office at a convenient time. When we arrived to meet him in his office on appointment, we found he had gotten things prepared as if he received exclusive guests. He treated us to a delicious dinner in his office.
After that meeting, we became more familiar with each other and addressed him as Uncle Abdul Razzaq. Over time, we continued to meet as families. He had a precious family and partners. They were pious, benevolent and generous. Not only were they immensely successful in their business, they were also rich at heart by providing merit scholarships to hundreds of students through their foundation, meeting the needs of dozens of mosques and madrasas, and rushing to help the needy. During our conversations, Uncle Abdul Razzaq would frequently emphasize the importance of the message the schools founded by the Hizmet Movement spread worldwide, and always ask if we needed anything.
We requested his assistance whenever we needed
During the second summer after our first meeting, Uncle Abdul Razzaq participated in a trip to Turkey with his family. He visited the institutions opened by the Hizmet Movement and voiced his commitment to provide substantial financial assistance to meet the needs of the boarding students in our school’s dormitory upon his return. He regularly gave a portion of the zakat paid both by himself and his company to be used in facilities provided to students. He would sometimes send staple food parcels to be consumed in the dormitory kitchen.
Over the years he became one of the few people to whom we appealed first whenever we needed resources for our services. He loved us much and never counted us different from his own children. He would buy us the fabrics he bought for his children during Eids, guide us to have our Eid clothes sewn, and benignly oblige us to accept pocket money every time, no matter if it was a small amount. He would invite us to venues where only family members attended during his children’s wedding receptions, and he would both love and respect us.
I once went to Turkey for the summer vacation with my wife and, just before returning, I fell ill. He heard about my illness and phoned several times to inquire about my condition. On our return from the vacation, we had to move our house to a neighbourhood nearer to the new school building. Before leaving for Turkey, we had vacated our house and temporarily left our furniture and things in a small room in Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s house in order not to pay two-month extra rent for the new house.
His driver had been waiting for us while I was exhausted by illness
In those days, there was no direct flight from Istanbul to Lahore. We used to land at the Islamabad International Airport, take a taxi to Rawalpindi to get on the intercity bus to Lahore. We landed in Islamabad before dawn. I felt terribly ill. What’s more, we learned one suitcase had been lost during the transfer. I felt so weak due to fatigue from illness and unease for the lost suitcase. After completing the immigration procedures and while leaving the terminal to take a taxi, I kept on thinking, “How am I going to get on the bus in this state? How will I reach Lahore? Where will I stay there?” because I was in a terrible state.
As soon as we left the airport terminal in that troubling condition, I saw someone right in front of me. My name was written on the paper in his hand. I could not recognize the man at first. Later, he came running and took our luggage. While I and my wife tried to figure out what was going on, this unknown person said he was Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s driver and he had arrived with Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s personal car to take us to Lahore. He also said our room was ready at Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s residence for us to stay until we find another house”. I and my wife were both amazed and thrilled. I was so sick and weak that I don’t remember how we got in the car or how the journey passed. All I know is, when we arrived in Lahore, Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s family welcomed us as if we too were the residents of their house. They took great care of us for 4-5 days until we left for our new rental residence. Uncle Abdul Razzaq called a doctor and I was examined and given treatment in the comfort of our room there.
To be continued…
Part Twenty-Two: How did the Pakistani businessmen’s trips to Turkey gain impetus?