Meet Hafizaan Bibi, a courageous woman

Created: Tuesday, 02 November 2010 Written by Lubna Saira


I have known Hafizaan Bibi for many years now. She is a very courageous woman with little resources and great accomplishments. Little or no education but great wisdom.

I would like to share where she is in her life journey now. She does not cease to amaze me every time I visit Pakistan only to find out she is up to something bigger and better.
She is a widow who not only lost her husband to an extended illness, but also lost her son with disability, and a grandson only in past few months. Yet I see her back on her swift feet changing buses to get aid to meet the needs of the 21 children who reside in the masjid she has built in 2008.

I recall, when she in her large white 'chaddar' (outer garment), walking briskly, changing several buses, walking long distances at every odd hour from early morning to midnight in order to get hand crochet and embroidery work from Lahaute setup in Lahore for herself and for other disadvantaged women in her neighborhood.

Recently, when I went to visit masjid Ibrahim, one she has built, I could not believe my eyes. It was beautiful and quite spacious considering the small size of the plot adjacent to her house. How could she do what a Muslim dreams of with such meager resources? Building a house of Allah, a masjid! And giving shelter, food and love to the poor children who reside there because their parents cannot afford food and education for them. The parents want their children to learn the Quran and be good Muslims despite lack of worldly resources.

I asked 'Hafizaan how did you make this happen?' She answered 'I had to do something for myself for Akhirah, Sadaqa Jariya'. I got 4 marla (about 1089 sq. feet) plot from my husband when he passed away and I had decided either I will give it to an orphan or I will build a masjid, Insha Allah. What is worthy to note is that her children got their share but they still live on meager resources. 'I knew that no matter how much I give, I cannot fulfill all the needs of the children who are adults now and have their families to take care of'. So I must do something only for Allah" says Hafizaan. She did not succumb to the temptation of giving everything to her children and grandchildren, nor could she be pressured into giving up her dream by the relatives, friends and neighbors. The concept of giving up wealth when one is not rich is not the norm these days. But she is one of the rare people who have the courage and 'Eiman' faith to entrust her future in Allah's hands.
Her life has been dedicated to striving to raise her children including two handicapped children, getting each one of them married with children so they live full lives.

'Taufiq' is from Allah alone, she got aid to build this masjid. It houses 14 children from poor families from the city of Kasur where majority of the population lives on meager amounts. 21 children attend this masjid for learning and free food is provided to them from whatever is donated. Rice and lentils are the most donated items so they eat rice for breakfast also, sometimes with only salt or some sugar to flavor it. Milk as part of their breakfast is out of question. Even milk in tea is not affordable so tea is made only occasionally.
Hafizaan Bibi has been cooking the food for them herself on the roof. The children sleep in the only prayer room they have. They have walls upstairs but need a roof so the children can get sleeping quarters. Women pray Jummah salaat on the roof in the sun as well. It is very hot in Pakistan several months out of the year.

This is what their needs are:

  • Only Rs 250 approx $3.00 per day will provide milk once a day to each of the 21 children. Do whatever you can even if it is a cup of milk to a child. Assistance towards providing them with a more nutritional meal, so that vegetables, fruit and Roti (bread) can be added instead of their standard rice and lentil combination.
  • Rs 350,000 approx $4120 are needed to give them a roof. Children will have living quarters and women a place to pray.

They lack books. Even Takhti n Qalam Dawat (traditional wooden planks and reed pens used by dipping in ink) were only bought this month. They did not have pen and paper to do any learning through writing, they only learned through reading.

I have too much to share, and perhaps I will on a later post. I would like to say that Hafizaan Bibi inspires me to focus on the Ikhlaas (purity of heart and intent) and see the magic of meager resources transforming dreams into reality.

I see her again stopping on her way to pay the fee for her eldest grand daughter, whom she is very fond of and one who is pursuing religious studies. One whom I met while visiting their home and masjid next door. From the way this young girl talked, and what she had to say I could find no traces of being brought up in an uneducated and poor family. She had the character and Adab that most of the ladies of the rich lack. She gave me a gift of a book " Secrets of a pure heart".

What an achievement! Hafizaan Bibi has been the mother and father to the children. She served her abusive husband till he passed away, her tireless efforts to raise her two children with disability like the others, so they are married and lead full lives, raised all four of them in the light of Quran and Sunnah and now I see her as an amazing grandmother who changed a generation through her emphasis on seeking knowledge in the way of Allah. And Masjid Ibrahim (with the children's faces you see in the pictures above) as her dream fulfilled which she intends to serve till she leaves this world, she says.