At the very young age of my life, one of my main aims is to see how Allah will spare me of death. Thus, striving to do the right things as ordained by the Creator. Alas! The frequent message by my Mother concerning the Prophet (SAW) of Allah only dawned on me at the age of puberty; “the Prophet has tasted death”; as such submitting to the inevitability of death.
Moreover, the Qur’anic verse that says “every soul shall taste the fruit of death” has been a turning point in my life for the preparation for the inevitable. The death of my Father (Malam), remains a distinct one among many that elucidated the reality and sadness of death to me.
On the night of the 10th day of Muharram 1434 AH (24thNovember 2012), just a while after the isha prayer, death took away the “sage Malam”. He was diagnosed with malaria and was receiving treatment before the inevitable struck. He stood and stretched his body in the presence of his wives and then told them, that today “I am perfectly ok”; but like any human, he never knew that he was about to keep an appointment with his Creator and within 3hrs after that, he breathed. Thus, affirming the relevance of the Qur’anic verse which says:
…and no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted…..
My last meeting with Malam, was exactly 10 days to his death. The meeting with him that night was in the presence of my younger brother Yazid, whom Malam sends on an errand in the last hour of the meeting. The discussions during the meeting were just a summary of life; till today, I remain in awe of how Malam was able to package such an asset of wisdom within the few hours of our meeting. He posited that: Holding unto Allah, seeking knowledge, service to humanity and patience are the tenet his children and the followers of Allah should uphold. The richness of his sermon/counseling never resonated with me until after his death.
Malam Haruna was throughout his life, in reverence to Allah. He loved Allah and worshiped Him sincerely and passionately. He does that without recourse to anyone’s position, to the extent that he said “if you like, you can call me conservative”. Malam, was disciplined, confident and outspoken; yes, he used to be called conservative, but he would never for once deviate from the teachings of Islam nor abandoned the principles he upheld.He was found of saying that “We will all be in our individual graves and shall answer for ourselves only”.
He was a lawyer by profession; attended Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, his classmates were the late Abubakar Rimiand late Solomon Lar, Malam, left the judiciary in the mid-70s. His friends in the judiciary were Justice Kalgo and Justice LawalUwais (Chief Justice of Nigeria rtd). Malam retired as Permanent Secretary and was a distinct Islamic scholar with vast knowledge in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), marriage, and inheritance. He no doubt followed the footsteps of his father Alkali Abdulkarim Mafara, who was also amongst the key Islamic scholars and justices during the reign of the then Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Bello. His great grand Father (maternally) Malam Bawa Bazamfare, was also a Teacher to Usman Danfodio; (may allah accept them all and forgive them for their shortcomings). Due to his vast Islamic knowledge, academicians, justices, scholars as well as students in the Islamic field, seek his opinion and teachings in the field. A man who severally mentioned to his children of his regret for wasting only one year in his lifetime not-studying Islamic knowledge,
Malam Haruna though an Islamic scholar never rested in his pursuit of Islamic knowledge. His main scholar in Sokoto, wasMalam Danda and among his mates in the “zaure”, was the late Governor of Sokoto State, Dr. Garba Nadama. They were all humble and always seeking to acquire more Islamic knowledge. Moreover, Malam Haruna, Professor Gwandu and Professor Bande (former president of the United Nations), all attended Diploma in Arabic studies at the Usmanu Danfodio university Sokoto; this is even though they are/were all authorities in their field. The pursuit for knowledge has been one of the cardinal principles of Malam; he encourages his children and counseledus for that. Malam’s slogan and encouragement to his children was, “say it and don’t wait to be told” … an ignorant person can’t say and/or give any intellectual contribution(s).
As a proud son of the late Alkali Abdulkarim Talata Mafara, Malam not just loved his children but his siblings as well. In that last meeting, he told me his concerns about his sisters in TalataMafara and also talked extensively about his brothers. He first told me about his brother Senator Mukhtar (senate Chief Whip 1979-1983). The kind of bond that existed between him and his siblings was so strong that today his brother Malam Yahaya(former Governor Sokoto state), told us that Malam, wasn’t just his brother but a “Father” to him and that if he were to be given the option for the return of the dead; either his Father Abdulkarim or Malam, he will quickly choose Malam. Also,upon his death, his elder brother in Talata Mafara, Alkali Mustapha, referred to Malam as the “pillar” of the Abdulkarimfamily and that the “pillar has now fallen”. In the words of Barrister Abu Muhammad, one of his younger ones, “Malam Haruna. Is still living because his teachings are manifest”. His younger brother Malam Yahaya, visited him on the eve of his death and spent hours with Malam, until Malam told his brother Malam Yahaya, “you’ve taken my time, I need to sit for my daily Qur’anic recitation”. They all weren’t aware that the inevitable was about 24 hrs around the corner. The love and justice to his children, has been confirmed by our mothers; “Malam, love you equally”.
As a dedicated Muslim, he never believed in injustice irrespective of who is involved. Neighbors across ethno-religious divide, can attest to that. He was opened to intellectualengagements and always succumbed to superior ideas. The discussions and reminders about Malam’s qualities and values, is still being rang by his in-laws and grandchildren; they just believe that Malam wasn’t only “just”, but he was as well “a school”. You will learn a lot from the well-organized Malam.
Until his death, a lot of persons including his siblings, thought that Malam was very rich. Thanks to his organized way of life; he knows his needs and wants and when to execute them. He also has contingency measures; though an average Man, he was taken for a highly rich person.
Few months to his death, Malam invited all his 18 children when he counselled us and directed us to continue in the way of Allah as well as emphasizing unity and peaceful coexistence among us. That meeting he called a ‘unique” one, never appealed to us until his death. During the last family sitting with Malam, he told all of us how he prayed fervently for our success and in the end he said he’s forgiven all of us. At the point he mentioned that he’s forgiven us, I immediately went into tears that I had to excuse myself from the meeting for a few minutes. I saw it, to the extent that I cautioned my siblings, that with such wordings from Malam, it may be death to anyone of us or our parents. After the meeting, I informed Malam about my observation(s) and what I told my siblings, Malam immediately said “you are right Marwanu”; and so it took him and him alone, leaving behind a great vacuum to both his immediate and larger family.
“from Allah we are and to Him shall we all return”
A loving husband who left his wives seriously missing him; Hajjiya (his first wife), for over a year after his death, will just go into the parlor in anticipation that she will see Malam and until she goes in, she will just remember that the Owner has taken her lifetime partner. Early in the year, Malam organized a feast (walima) in praises to Allah for the 50 years he’s spent with Hajjiya and to all of us, we were all ignorant that it was a farewell feast. Hajjiya said one of the very few instances she saw Malam shed tears, was when he lost his second wife. Malam, was no doubt a loving husband.
My Father, your dedication to Allah, made us and your very close associate refer you to as “a Man who saw tomorrow”; you were just one of a kind and say it exactly how it will be (by the grace of Allah). It was just a gift from Allah.
My father, you left a will that your bossom and childhood friend, Liman Ali (Imam of Talata Mafara), should lead in your funeral prayer. Liman Ali, would have also wanted you to lead in his own, but NO, you left before him and he did it.
My father, your return to Allah is no doubt an excellent return in sha Allah. You no doubt served Allah and made sure that you instill such in the entire Ummah. Malam Haruna, you were no doubt a unique father and just unique among many other unique fathers. As a human, you were no doubt imperfect, but strived towards perfection. We remain PROUD of you Malam.
My father, may Allah forgive your imperfections, accept your good deeds and admit you in Jannatul Firdaus.
Executive Director – Dela Sustainability and Resource Institute