Amidst the doom and gloom of Pakistan’s current political dynamics came the news of the nomination of Dr Amjad Saqib for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022. Dr Saqib is the founder and Executive Director of Akhuwat, the world’s largest Islamic microfinance organization. Pakistan despite its new divisions of ideology and power paradigms celebrated in unison the latest honour bestowed on Dr Saqib, a glowing manifestation of how selfless work for the betterment of humanity is its own reward, celebrated by the people with gratitude, on an individual and national level.

In my introduction to Dr Saqib for an interview for Gulf News last year, I wrote: “When I think about Dr Saqib’s work, one-of-a-kind is the adjective that comes to my mind. In a world full of philanthropists and social workers what is that one thing that makes Dr Saqib’s work singularly special? To me it is his deep empathy for those he helps through his work. I believe that protection of their self-respect is his primary concern, and safeguarding the sanctity of their dignity is his constant credo.”

Dr Saqib’s microfinancing organization is titled Akhuwat, which as he explains is derived from “Mawakhat-e-Medina.” When I asked him last year what Akhuwat means for him, his answer was stunning in its simplicity, its expansiveness: “When Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) migrated to Medina from Mecca, he was accompanied by some of his relatives and friends. Most of those people belonged to affluent families, but the journey of hijra (migration) resulted in financial hardships. When they reached Medina, they required some resources to restart their lives, but they did not want to ask anyone for charity. Medina didn’t have any financial institution that they could approach for help, but there were Jewish moneylenders who gave loans charging a huge interest. Paying or taking usury was against the religious teachings of the migrants from Mecca.

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) presented a truly beautiful concept. He declared that one citizen of Medina, who would be called Ansar, and one Muhajir (migrant) from Mecca would form a bond. On the basis of that bond, they would be brothers and help one another. That relationship was called ‘mawakhat’. It means bhai-chara (brotherhood). After being connected in that relationship every Ansar assisted his Muhajir brother to start a business. Because of that the Muhajirs were able to stand on their own very soon. Not before long the world saw that those who had arrived in Medina in destitution were back on their feet.

What we believe is that the manifestation of mawakhat is not merely a historic event, it is a complete philosophy. And that philosophy is always applicable as it is beyond the limitations of geography and time.”

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