Hizmet-volunteer Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s trips to Turkey

Educationist Mustafa Hatipoğlu (3): We became the first mentors of PakTurk students
November 12, 2021
Mustafa Hatipoğlu (4): I wept as I left Pakistan
November 16, 2021

Hizmet-volunteer Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s trips to Turkey

Educationist Taner Koçyiğit continues to narrate about Uncle Abdul Razzaq, a Pakistani volunteer for the Hizmet Movement. In this part of his memoirs, Koçyiğit wrote about Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s altruism for the PakTurk Schools and their teachers and how the trips he took to Turkey moved him.

Part Twenty-Four:

In one of the most difficult moments of my life, Allah sent Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s driver to our aid. Since we did not have a house in Lahore yet, Uncle Abdul Razzaq arranged a room for us in his own house and hosted us until we found one for our own. Thanks to the efforts of the doctor who treated me in our room and by Allah’s leave, I could recover in a few days. Meanwhile, Uncle Abdul Razzaq lent me one of his cars until I could have mine repaired. 

Uncle Abdul Razzaq’s drivers and assistants helped us in all our tasks, even after we left and moved to own house. He had lent us a car, had our things hauled, and had even sent foodstuff if we might not have any in our new home.

This generous family, who treated me and my wife no different than their own children, closely followed and appreciated the worldwide activities of the Hizmet Movement. Once, instead of hosting guests from Turkey at his house for dinner, we took them to the houses of other businessmen. He heard this from somewhere and he phoned me saying, “No matter who or how many people they are, you will bring the groups arriving from Turkey to my house first!” He instructed the cooks and other staff in his house on this matter. He also told me, “Just tell me two hours before you arrive. If no time is left to notify, you may even gatecrash, but if everyone from Turkey does not eat from my table, I will not forgive you!”

All your friends may use our farmhouse

He phoned me again once and gave me an address, “I have a farmhouse here with a zoo. It has all facilities. You may go there whenever you wish as the staff is there round the clock.” When we did not go for a few weeks, he took us there and said, “All your Turkish friends may come here for picnics or similar activities whenever they wish.” He also instructed the staff there, saying all our needs should be met as if we were the members of his own family. We held many picnics in that farmhouse with families. Friends who wished to visit there would inform me in advance. When they reached the farmhouse, they would say “We are Mr. Taner’s friends” and spend time as they wish. Uncle Abdul Razzaq had bought additional tables and chairs just for us to use if it became crowded sometimes. He and his family used to go there once or twice a year anyway. We used to go in some way almost every week to entertain our guests who visited Lahore.

Uncle Abdul Razzaq was a member of the first-ever Board of Trustees of our foundation, besides meeting the financial needs of PakTurk Schools. He attended the weekly trustee meetings as much as his health would allow, and he spared no material or moral sacrifice. Upon the invitation of a few Turkish businessmen during a summer vacation, we had decided to take the members of the Board of Trustees to Turkey with their families and to visit the Hizmet volunteers in a few cities. Uncle Abdul Razzaq also joined this trip with his wife. We visited many Hizmet-inspired institutions in Ankara, Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Konya, Denizli and Istanbul and introduced our Pakistani guests to Turkish tradesmen and businessmen. They wished to attend the meetings of the board of trustees of the local foundations in the cities we visited and observe how the education services were organized.

‘How could you leave this beautiful milieu and come to Pakistan?’

Often during this trip, Uncle Abdul Razzaq said, “My admiration for you has increased; how could you leave this country and come to Pakistan? I’m all praises to the parents who raised you; I would like to meet them as well!” We continued our trip by promising we would visit Bursa, where my family lived, on our next trip.

Uncle Abdul Razzaq and his family used to go on vacation to at least one country – usually England, America or Dubai in United Arab Emirates – every summer before they met us. After he met us and visited Turkey once, he said, “I will not go on vacation to any country other than Turkey anymore, nor will I send my children anywhere else!” He used to say so because there was almost no un-halal food issue in Turkey, the costs were reasonable, and most importantly, there were tradesmen and businessmen who guided us and welcomed us cordially. After that, we took Uncle Abdul Razzaq and his whole family to Turkey every summer. As we promised earlier, we visited Bursa, where our families resided. When he met our families, he said, “We are Taner’s and Zübeyde’s second family. I assume their all requirements whenever they leave you and come to Pakistan. Don’t you ever worry… Rest assured!”

Özhaseki hosted Pakistani guests in his country cottage

Sometimes they would visit Turkey with his wife only and sometimes he would take his whole family. During one trip, we visited historical and touristic places in Kayseri. After visiting Cappadocia, we visited the then-mayor of Kayseri Mehmet Özhaseki in his country cottage and drank his tea. During that visit, he was very surprised that Özhaseki himself offered tea to the guests and placed slippers before their them while entering the house. “We once again admired the Turkish traditions,” they said.

He spared no expense as his financial situation was sturdy. He avoided extravagance and squandering, but required us to arrange in advance to be comfortable. Since we were little experienced during the first trips, we sometimes hosted them in places where they could not stay comfortable. We endeavoured to protect them financially, thinking they should not overpay. Yet, they never rubbed our noses in any mistake and upset us. We even spent nights in uncomfortable and inexpensive places. Years later, he once said “Taner, when we visited such-and-such place once, I couldn’t sleep and was uncomfortable until the morning. I didn’t tell you so you wouldn’t be upset” and reminded me of that gently again.

To be continued…


Part Twenty-Three: A Pakistani benefactor of Hizmet: Uncle Abdul Razzaq

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