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Default Syria, Turkey, Refugees and Service Reviewed by Sajjad Shaukat

Whenever any natural calamity or man-made disaster took place in Pakistan, without wasting time, Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah along with his devoted teams of Customs Health Care Society reached the affected areas and helped the helpless people by providing them the basic necessities of life and medical assistance. He has also played a role in the rehabilitation of the homeless people and done relief works for the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) of Bannu and Waziristan, including those of other regions.

He wrote 20 related-books and being a social worker, writer; author and philanthropist got Sitare Imitiaz.

However, his services were not confined to Pakistan only, as feeling the agony of the Syrian refugees, he decided to go to Turkey to help them.

In this regard, his book (Travelogue), “Syria, Turkey, Refugees and Service” point outs every aspect of the tragedy of the Syrian refugees, including role of the Turkey in providing all the facilities to these homeless Syrians and his own service.

In the beginning of the book, Dr Asif Jah described the unprecedented devastation and destruction which Syria faced due to the proxy war of the major powers. It was the worst humanitarian crisis which resulted into martyrdom of millions of Syrian persons. Such tragedy compelled millions of Syrians to escape across borders in wake of bombs and bullets which have devastated their homes.

Quoting sources, the author mentioned that estimated 15 million people have been affected by the Syrian civil war and almost similar numbers of persons were compelled to leave the country. A vast majority of the Syrian refugees live in various Islamic countries in refugee camps, including Western countries. Turkey hosts the largest number of registered Syrian refugees–approximately 4 million.

It is mentionable before going to Turkey, filled with the grief and sorrow, Dr. Asif Jah had already collected donations and dispatched relief packages for the Syrian refugees settled in Turkey in the end of 2017. He wrote that his children Yumna, Hazaifa, Mahnoor and his wife Asma who also cooperated in writing this book, helped him in preparing relief packages and gifts like special dresses for the women. Despite it, he was not satisfied. Hence, full with enthusiasm and a sense of strong sympathy, while setting aside human limitations, and his official engagements as a government officer in a department, in April 2018, the author, himself, left for Turkey along with the devoted team.

A thorough study of the book shows that Dr Asif Jah not only provided the Syrian refugees relief goods and monetary help, but also described their plight, optimistic role of Turkey in this respect. For this purpose, the author visited various refugees’ camps in Turkey and supplied all the necessities of life, including gifts. His selfless aid reached almost all the war-affected Syrians, including women, children and the old persons. In some cases, packets of relief items and gifts were urgently packed with the cooperation of his wife. Special gifts were also given to the Syrian children. The author also visited orphanages (Yateem Khanas) and distributed there goods and money.

In the book, Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah especially admired the role of Turkey’s NGO, namely, Yardim Foundation which is conducting welfare activities for the deserving Muslims all over the world. He also contacted the office of the Foundation whose top officials assured him that they are ready to work with the Customs Health Care Society.

During his interaction with the Syrian refugees, general masses, intellectuals and the dignitaries, Dr. Asif Jah came to know that as compared to other countries where these helpless people live, Turkey has provided them all facilities which Turkish citizens enjoy. According to him, it has reminded the migration (Hijrat) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers from Mecca to Medina.

Besides, the author discussed every visited city and place of Turkey in historical perspectives. Dr. Waqar Badshah who speaks Turkish language guided him on each occasion. During his visit to various cities such as Istanbul (Old name Constantinople), Urfa, Konya and Bursa, Dr. Asif Jah covered all dimensions of ancient buildings, castles, monuments, mosques, churches, residences, museums, bazaars, graveyards and streets, constructed by the Byzantine emperors and Turkish’s Ottoman emperors. He also mentioned the ancient places of the Roman Empire in a comprehensive manner, while depicting the architecture of buildings of various cities and towns from every possible angle. He also wrote the short history of these places.

Istanbul was his focus of attention, as he mentioned Blue Mosque, Underground Basilica Cistern, the Ancient Orient Museum, Topkapi Palace: Home of the Turkey’s Sultans, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, the Hagia Sophia etc. in an amazing way.

He paid much attention to the tomb and mosque of Abu Ayyub Ansari who was a close companion and Sahaba of the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). After the conquest of the Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks, a tomb was constructed above Abu Ayyub’s grave and a mosque was built in his honor.

Another key attention of the author was Sultan Muhamm Al-Fateh who conquered the Constantinople in 1453, as early wars failed in ending the Byzantine emperorship. Al Fateh changed the name of the city to Istanbul.

During his trip to Urfa city, besides indicating other places, Dr. Asif Jah particularly gave importance to the Harran Museum which has remained the center of teaching and learning since the ancient times. He has also pointed out Jihad of the Prophet Abraham (PBUH) against the evil empire of King Nemrut and indicated that Harran is the place where the Prophet Abraham (PBUH) spent several years. Included among the archaeological finds is the oldest Islamic university, as the author indicated.

He also met the Governor of Urfa and wrote that unlike Pakistan, there is no protocol even for the governor and he has small staff.
Upon reaching Konya city, its historical places and spirituality can be felt when the author visited the tomb of Maulana Rumi-a renowned Sufi mystic, an Islamic scholar and a Persian poet.

As regards the hospitality, wherever, the author went, he was warmly welcomed by the Turkish concerned dignitaries and the people, which had proved that Turkey and its citizens have matchless love and extra-ordinary attachment for Pakistanis.

Dr. Asif Jah opined in the book that in the leadership of the President Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has paid all foreign loans and rapidly made progress. It has become a model of imitation for other Muslim countries. He also requested various NGOs of the Muslim countries to cooperate with one another not only for welfare of the needy, but also for creation of unity among the Islamic countries.

Without any prejudice, the book also narrates various civilizations, including those of the Armenians.

Apart from old places, the book also illustrates the modern Turkey, its buildings, roads, hotels, restaurants etc. It also gives awareness about Turkey’s industries and business activities which have played a key role in development of the country.

While describing Turkey’s old and modern culture, the author elaborates that Turkish people wear both European and Turkish dresses. He also mentions their food, marriages etc. in a vivid style.

He writes that there is no VIP culture in Turkey and people have discipline in their ways of life, which can be seen on their roads where there is no traffic jam.

The author clarified, “The basic aim of this book is to give awareness about the affected people of Syria and in such a critical situation, it is the duty of the Islamic Ummah to help Syrians”

The author has drawn the picture of every visited city and its important places, and related-history in such a way that one can easily understand the local surroundings of the Trukey’s cities, culture, old and new traditional values.

As regards the observation-power of the author, readers can note, that starting from Lahore to Istanbul, and returning from Istanbul to Lahore, he has also described the system of immigration and Custom-clearance of the passengers, including taxi-drivers. In these terms, the book will be guide for the tourists who want to visit Turkey.

Title: Syria, Turkey, Refugees and Service (In Urdu: Syria, Turkey, Hijrat and Service)
Author: Dr. Asif Mahmood Jah (Sitare Imitiaz)
Pages: 231
Publisher: UMT Press, Johar Town, Lahore
ISBN: 978-969-9368-43-1
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