For Muslims and Christians remember, Sister Ruth Pfau was “shining icon”
by Shafique Khokhar

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi orders a state funeral for the nun, deemed a national hero. Muslims express their condolences. For writer and researcher Kakkazai Aamir, “we must pray to earn a small place” next to her. Hamza Arshad, a Muslim educator, calls Ruth Pfau “an angel of mercy for Pakistan." Inam Rana, lawyer and editor at the online Mukaalma newspaper, describes the nun as “a symbol of love, humanity and sacrifice." For the Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference, "her services to humanity were a pure manifestation of God's divine love".

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The grief and mourning that followed the death last Thursday of Dr Ruth Pfau continues unbated. Dubbed the Mother Teresa of Pakistan, the Sister of the Immaculate Heart Family of Mary spent her life serving lepers.

Some of those who remember her are leading Muslims. One of them is writer and researcher Kakkazai Aamir. "We Pakistani will remember Sister Ruth as a symbol of abnegation and a lighthouse of hope for leprosy patients. Her services will never be forgotten,” he told AsiaNews.

“When (Abdul Sattar) Edhi died, some Muslim religious radicals claimed that he would go to hell.” Saddened by the attack against one of Pakistan’s foremost philanthropist inspired by Mother Teresa, “Dr Pfau said: 'We do not serve humanity for some reward or paradise; we work to lighten the problems of our people. We work to remedy human illness.’”

“The sister also said several times: ‘I pray to God to hold for me a place next to Edhi after my death'. I'm sure that Dr Ruth does not need our prayers for God's forgiveness. It is us who have to pray for a small place next to them."

For Hamza Arshad, a Muslim lay educator, "Ruth Pfau proved to be an angel of mercy for Pakistan, where governments tend to ignore public health programmes. Dr Ruth treated leprosy patients who were rejected and detested. She fought a real battle against this curse and almost defeated it.”

"In 1996, Pakistan was the first country in the region to have leprosy under control. In her struggle, Dr was not helped at all, especially by public officials. However, she had the support of the people.”

“She never thought that the media limelight was needed to get visibility and economic support for her services, as many other so-called 'social workers' usually do. Now that she has left us for her eternal home, let us pray for her soul.”

"I can imagine her in Paradise, sitting next to Holy Mary as she tells her about the work for the downtrodden, and how she revived the Healing Touch with her dedication and struggle.”

“I can hear the angels of God sing in her praise, whilst blessed souls place flowers on her, offering their gifts. I think she will continue to think about the sick and her patients, who have been deprived of a holy mother."

"People like Dr Pfau gave up their today for the tomorrow of others,” said Inam Rana, lawyer and editor of the online Mukaalma (Dialogue Times) paper. “She deserves even more respect because she did not make any sacrifices for her own country, but for a foreign land.”

“Sister Ruth is one of the last light of the Christian missionary system, which produced great personalities who loved God through His creatures and served him by serving humanity, regardless of religion.”

“She was and will remain a symbol of love, humanity, and sacrifice. The love and care she showed leprosy patients was not only very important and necessary, but also revolutionary, especially in a society like Pakistan where lepers are considered damned and destined to die alone. Dr Pfau has shown that God's curse can be defeated. "

The Catholic Church of Pakistan, through the Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference, also spoke about the missionary's work.

In a joint press release, Commission chairman Mgr Joseph Arshad, national director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, and executive director Cecil Shane Chaudhry, write that "Dr Pfau will always be remembered as a national hero, a legend whose services for humanity were nothing less than a pure manifestation of God’s Divine Love. The vacuum created by her demise can never be filled."

The Commission also expressed appreciation for Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s decision to hold a State Funeral in the nun’s honour.

The funeral ceremony is scheduled for next Saturday at St Patrick's Cathedral, Karachi. The body will be laid to rest at the Gora Qabristan Christian cemetery.

The Commission called on the nation and government to provide its foundation with all the assistance and support it needs.

"Dr Ruth Pfau gave hope to many people and showed, through her memorable work, that serving humanity has no boundaries," said Rojar Noor Alam of Caritas Pakistan.

"We are proud of her service to this nation and she will surely remain in our hearts as a shining icon for generations to come. She is a point of reference for young people. She is a model for all who believe in humanity!"