Councillor Shaheen Butt mother, Pickering’s oldest, a blessedly special person
In 1919, when Robert Boyden was the Prime Minister of Canada and Wilfred Laurier was the leader of the liberal party, Mukhtar Butt was born in the beautiful hills of Kashmir. She married and raised a family in Nairobi, Kenya then moved to London, England to provide her children with a better life. She then moved to Canada with her youngest children and has lived here for over 40 years. “Canada is my home,” she says.
When Mukthar was just two years old her mother passed away just after her younger brother was born and with Mukthar being only a toddler then, her memories of her beautiful mother are few, but she missed her presence very much growing up and even up until today she feels that she missed the loving care that only a Mother can provide. Mukhtar and her little brother were raised by their grandmother and father. She grew up in a small village until at the tender age of 14, she received a proposal to marry a successful businessman living in Nairobi. As young as she was Mukthar had the ability to adapt quickly and was eager to learn everything she could about creating a home and raising a family in an unknown country. She learned the local language very quickly (Swahili), cooked amazing food, created a beautiful home and raised 11 children.
With her husband being the only breadwinner, she was able to run the household, host many dinners for family and friends and raise her children in a clean and wholesome environment. She was practical and wise when it came to financial choices and she preferred to spend on her children rather than herself. Her husband Sarwar was 15 years her senior and loved his wife very much. He was in awe of her beauty inside and out. One day he entered her name in a contest for “best-dressed woman” at a community event where she won the grand prize. Being a simple woman, she glowed with little or no makeup and was beautiful in a lovely evening dress. Her husband was very active in the community. Always volunteering and helping families.
During her lifetime Mukthar has performed many acts of kindness but there are three that stand out the most. As mentioned before Mukthar gave birth to eleven children however she raised only ten of them. When her sixth child was born, a girl named Sarwat, Mukthar was compelled to help a couple who were very close friends of the family and also lived in their home. Razia, was as close as a sister could be to Mukthar but was not able to have children and prayed for years that a miracle would happen where she would become a mother. Mukthar noticed how distressed she was and decided that she would help her. With her newborn daughter only ten days old, Mukthar handed her the baby and told her “take her, she is yours, look after her with love and kindness forever”. This was the most heart-wrenching thing Mukthar had ever done in her life. Having done this without asking her husband or anyone else Mukthar was under fire from the family. But she held her ground and told everyone that she gave up her daughter for the sake of God and she will not take her back. Through this unselfish act, Mukthar provided another family a lifetime of happiness that they would not have ever achieved. Today her daughter Sarwat is doing well living in England and she knows that Mukthar is her biological mother. Sarwat also says that she received so much love from her adopted family and she does not have any ill feelings towards being given away.
The next act of kindness was actually a little miracle. Her 7th child, a boy named Sarfaraz was born prematurely at 7 months. He was extremely frail and the doctors said that he had only a fifty percent chance of surviving. They sent both Mother and son home with very little hope. Mukhtar was not going to give up. She looked after him with such devotion that only a mother could understand. She kept him antiseptic clean and warm in cotton blankets and fed him by squeezing cotton balls drenched with milk over his little mouth. His skin was milky white and translucent and his eyes were sealed shut. She kept up this vigilance without a second thought up until the day he finally opened his eyes. And to everyone’s amazement, the colour of his eyes was sea blue. Today, Sarfaraz is now a father of five beautiful daughters and grandfather of six children living in London, England.
Another act of kindness stemmed from Mukhtar’s belief in giving back to the community. A trait that many of her children and grandchildren have inherited. Mukthar in her own quiet way became a leader in her community. Many until this day regard her as being fair and just and never shying away from her commitments. One day she volunteered to help raise funds to build a local community centre to be used for worship and for community activities. For fifteen years Mukthar walked hundreds of miles, going door to door to raise these funds. Living in an impoverished country with the threat of being robbed, Mukthar and her best friend risked their lives going out everyday rain or shine to raise funds and they never lost their determination to fulfil what they promised to do. The centre was built and up until day is a thriving place of worship for the community.
Today, Mukhtar lives in a lovely Pickering home with her Son, Counselor Shaheen Butt, his wife and three children and with her youngest daughter Sabiha and her children. Her oldest son Sajjad, who lives in Mississauga with his family is very devoted to her and visits often. All of her children and grandchildren are active in their respective communities. This is because they had good role models to look up to.
Mukhtar has never returned to Kenya after she left in 1970 and does not have a desire to do so. She is content in living a well-cared for life here in Canada for the past 40 plus years. Mukhtar is still a devoted Mother and Grandmother. She has thirty grandchildren and 37 Great-grandchildren all living in various continents around the world. She has two grandsons who are lawyers living in England, a granddaughter who is a Doctor- ENT specialist, two other granddaughters with their PhD’s, a grandson who was the National Canadian Squash Champion for two years and much more great-grandchildren aspiring to become professionals in their respective studies. She is also a devoted Canadian and calls Canada her home country. She has never missed an opportunity to vote at all levels of government since she became a citizen and has maintained her volunteerism over several past decades in various forms. She loves maple syrup, Tim Horton’s coffee, going to the cottage and believe it or not she loved shoveling snow and going to see Niagara Falls in the winter. Mukhtar truly is a wonderful Mother and a proud Canadian.