Celebrating success with a Visionary Humanitarian

Pir Syed Lakhte Hassanain was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction), which is the third-highest honour and civilian award in Pakistan on the 18th of August 2020.

Pir Syed Lakhte Hassanain is the founder and chairman of Muslim Hands, a leading humanitarian NGO that provides emergency relief, sustainable income generation and educational projects in over 40 countries worldwide. Here I reflect on the factors that contributed to his success.

Syed Lakhte Hassanain came to England in 1990 and started work at Karimia Institute as my Imam. As an Imam, he was popular among young students because he enjoyed playing cricket. Within months he started charity work and surprised everyone with his unbound energy and enthusiasm for it.

We always like to measure people’s success, so has he been a successful charity worker? Just look at the figures and you will be amazed at the level of success this seminary-trained Imam has achieved. It’s truly phenomenal, that under his charismatic and pious leadership, the charity now raises nearly £30 million annually (2019-2020). This is spent to improve and save the lives of millions of orphans, needy children and impoverished families across the globe.

Although Syed Lakhte Hassanain works as the Chief Executive Officer of Muslim Hands, he isn’t the run-of-the-mill CEO who does the usual 48 hours per week as is common among British CEOs. Yes, he works 24/7! He freely gives his time and skills to work as Chairman, Organiser and Fundraiser. He has a far higher spiritual goal, “He gave his wealth in charity to purify himself. Not as payment for favours received, but longed for the pleasure of His Lord, the Highest, and he will be pleased with the outcome” (Al-Layl: 18-21).

Working with others; partnerships, networking and cooperation

Someone aptly said, “your greatest work is through others”, Syed Lakhte Hassanain lives by this principle of leadership by mentoring, cooperating and networking with others. Someone who recognises the good others do and appreciates it. I have rarely heard him being hypercritical or negative about others, particularly anyone who is working in the third sector; charity, community development and Islamic work. He isn’t judgemental but discerning, thinks and reflects, perhaps that is the secret of his success. He’s brave, audacious and willing to take risks, but calculated ones. He knows how far to go. The expansion of Muslim Hands is a tribute to his audacity and sound judgement. As Chairman, he has developed strategic alliances with a range of organisations including Muslim Charities Forum, Christian Aid and even UNESCO, planning delivery of services in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Muslim Hands

Under the guidance of Syed Lakhte Hassanain, the organisation offers a range of health, water, nutritional, education and livelihood programmes to safeguard and empower millions of people worldwide. In 2016 alone, 1,125,000 people were provided with clean water, with Syed Lakhte Hassanain responsible for overseeing the construction of over 3,837 wells in Asia and Africa. Through the recent Motherkind maternity health programme, Muslim Hands have also been saving the lives of vulnerable women in Afghanistan and Somalia, serving over 176,000 patients who otherwise would have been deprived of access to essential life-saving prenatal and post-natal care. Under his guidance, Muslim Hands remains at the forefront of emergency relief work during conflicts, wars and natural disasters across the world.

Syed Lakhte Hassanain ensures that the 90 UK staff and volunteers work in a wholly accountable, transparent and ethical manner for the betterment of beneficiaries and communities locally and internationally. Following the great success of the charity and the wide donor base, he subsequently expanded the organisation, opening fundraising offices in South Africa, France, Canada, USA, Turkey and Pakistan in addition to the wide range of field-based programme offices worldwide. This is a clear reflection of his approach to the brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity. He says I am the servant of “the benefactor of humanity.”

Humble beginnings

He comes from a humble and pious family, his father Pir Syed Bashir sahib comes from the blessed lineage of the Prophet ﷺ, he was a spiritual guide of his region Wazirabad (North Pakistan). He cared for the poor, looked after the needy and destitute. So, charity work is in his blood. Generosity, empathy and care are inherent characteristics that Syed Lakhte Hassanain displays abundantly. This is what we call the morals of Muhammad ﷺ. So, the charity he does come from these Muhammadi values, it is to enable the poor, the needy and the orphans to build stable prosperous futures. He believes our programmes must be long-term that give the recipient sustainable income, restore livelihoods.

Having worked with him for nearly three decades, I can reveal that his passion has been promoting education and raising the standard of learning and teaching. So, he ensured that Muslim Hands built schools in the world’s poorest countries. Currently, Muslim Hands runs more than 250 schools in Pakistan and another 60 schools in 11 countries across the globe including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Niger.

Pakistani Government recognised his contribution to education

From the day Muslim Hands was founded he was concerned about the poor educational standard in Pakistan. So, he started a concerted effort to build schools and today there are 250 schools with 25,000 students. The excellent educational programmes provide each child with schooling, medical care and school meals, relieving childhood malnutrition and offering each child hope and a bright future. Schools are co-educational and carefully designed so that orphans, needy children and children of middle-class parents sit side by side. Syed Lakhte Hassanain has brought about a shift in socio-cultural attitudes and broken down the traditional prejudices.

Importance of family life

Syed Lakhte Hassanain has three beautiful sons and a wonderful wife. He is the head of his family clan and as the headman, I have seen how much he cares for the whole family. He is also a ‘Brit’ so increasingly he is extending Muslim Hands UK operations, some of the projects include; local food banks, supporting those in social-isolation, empowering marginalised Muslim women, mentoring young British Muslims to develop their social and academic skills.

His outstanding services and charismatic leadership has been recognised and his tireless charity work has won several prestigious awards including:

  • Muslim Power list: 100 most influential Muslims
  • The Muslim News Award for Excellence in 2010
  • The Third Sector Awards 2011
  • Charity of the Year 2013
  • Sitara-e-Imtiaz 2020

A follower of the beloved Master

Having received multiple awards and regardless of his increased profile nationally and internationally in the humanitarian sector, he continues his natural “hands-on” work policy. He has no time to rest on his laurels. You will see him engaging with Muslim Hands staff and showing the highest level of commitment to his humanitarian mission. When he visits the old Karimia Masjid where he founded Muslim Hands, he often cries sitting next to the Masjid elders who had supported him 30 years ago. I believe that Syed Lakhte Hassanain deserves many more honours, but that’s not what he wants. As a colleague and a fellow trustee, I know what makes him tick: How can I help the needy of the world? That’s the aspiration of a true faithful servant. He’s such a wonderful role model for our materialist society for all people – young and old – to aspire to.

Syed Lakhte Hassanain serves as an excellent ambassador for Great Britain and is a highly respected member of the UK community, acting as a positive role model. May Allah give him a long-life to carry on his mission, ‘serving the needy’.