It’s just barely a month back when I wrote on the death of Dr. Ashiru Sani Daura which I captioned : “A Tragic Loss to the Ummah”. And now, in the late hours of the 30th night of Ramadan we are confronted with yet another tragic loss : DR. MUSTAPHA ISA QASIM JAMA’ARE is no more with us here in this transient world. He died in this blessed last night of Ramadan. Allahummaghfir lahu warhamhu warhamna ba’adahu.
Quite strikingly and indeed appealingly Dr. Mustapha shares certain characters and traits with Dr. Ashiru. They are both gentle, humble, reserved and shy. And very instructively they both love the Qur’an (Qir’atan wasima’an). Well every Muslim, expectedly loves the Qur’an, but some love it, cherish it and are much closer to it than others. No wonder, wherever they were, both would always be appointed as Imams.
I first met Dr. Mustapha Isa Qasim 37 years ago when I first set my foot on the soil (campus of Bayero University, KANO-BUK TOWN) and he was then the Amir of the BUK Chapter of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria. In 1986, I joined the tens of BUK students that travelled all the way from Kano to Billiri (now in Gombe State) where we witnessed, for the first time at least for us as young MSS chaps, the Wedding Fathah of our Ameer – Malam Mustapha Isa Qasim as he was then called.
Few among us is as lucky as Dr. Mustapha. Since students days and after graduation in 1986 with B. A. Islamic Studies , he had been primarily involved IN MAINSTREAM DA’AWAH WORK. He did his mandatory national youth service (NYSC) with the Islamic Trust of Nigeria (ITN), and was retained as full time staff, where he headed the Da’awah Unit/Department for over a decade. He later joined the services of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Until his death he was already an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies. For 4 years, between 2015 and 2019 (or thereabout) , he was the Provost of the A. D. Rufa’i College of Legal and Islamic Studies (CLIS), Misau, Bauchi State.
For all the 37 years we were together I had known Dr. Mustapha to be a person that cherishes knowledge. Our discussions whenever we met however, were mostly on the Glorious Qur’an, about Qurra’ especially Sheikh Mahmud Khaleel al-Husari, whose voice at some point, Dr. Mustapha fondly loved to imitate and that was why he also so much loved and respected the late Sheikh Jaafar Mahmud Adam whose tafseer he said, he didn’t use to get tired of listening to because of his cross-referencing of verses of the Qur’an. , . But the last time I prayed behind him in a retreat in Kaduna late last year 2020 (and whenever we were together, Dr. Mustapha was the automatic Imam) he was reading with the voice and melody of Sheikh as-Sudaniy, one Sudanese Dattijo Qari’i who was very popular among us brothers in the late 80s and early 90s. ITN was it that first brought the complete set of the 60hizbs of Sudaniy’s recitation.
Once an Ameer and Imam always one. Not by choice but by default, because of his mastery of the Qur’an, Dr. Mustapha was always and wherever an Imam. When he was the Ameer of MSS, BUK he was also the Imam of the SISTERS ( NANA ASMA’U HALL) offering leadership and tarbiyya to our prospective mothers. And incidentally no one could better handle our sisters. He was gentle, tenderly and shy. Similarly, for several years, Dr. Mustapha was the Imam, mostly of the Sisters’ site of the campuses of the MSSN Annual Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) . He was the Imam in the ITN (Khamsus Salawat) Mosque. And finally, he ended up being one of the JUMU’AH IMAMS of the GREAT A. B. U. Zaria.
My last meeting with him was in February, early this year when he was sent by his Department to supervise the conduct of examinations of affiliated COURSES of ABU, Zaria at the Federal College of Education, Kano. He was putting up at the BUK Guest House. On one of the days, and I think the last of our meeting, he dropped his wife at my house and travelled to Katsina where he was serving as a Visiting Lecturer at Al-Qalam University ( في طلب الحلال) . About four (4)days ago I called his line, thinking that he was discharged from the hospital. But the wife picked and told me that they were still at the hospital but that his condition was improving. She then gave him the phone and we spoke, I greeted him and prayed for him. Little did I know that I was bidding him farewell.
My fears about his condition heightened when Professor Ladan of the same Unit /Department called me yesterday and requested for prayers for him because, as he said, he was in a very critical condition. And when I saw many missed calls, at Suhur time, from his colleagues in the Islamic Studies Unit, Professor Ladan, Professor Abdullahi Dalhat, Dr. Abubakar Sabo, Professor Aisha Garba Habib and even Professor Karwai of the Business School , I knew that the tragedy had happened. Dr. Mustapha Isa Qasim has died. May Allah forgive him and have mercy on him.
Professor Salisu Shehu.