We miss you Baba!
It has been a scene that played itself over and over, seeing the lifeless body of my Hero, my Mentor at the same time my Dad and there was nothing anybody could have done. The pains of losing a Father is most agonizing and that which never fades. The sad event happened around 2:00am, on Wednesday 12th of May, 2021. In room 77 that night, it was myself, along with two of my brothers, Abdurrahman and Abba with Aunty (as we call our Step mum). We witnessed Baba in a critical situation on oxygen support, he couldn’t talk, he could only stare as he grasp for his last breaths. This was his situation for almost 12hours before he finally returned to his creator.
Dr. Mustapha Isa Qasim, popularly known as Mallam Mustapha has been a Man-in-white, a symbol he maintained throughout his life. His dress sense has been a kaftan or Babban riga, mostly with a white cap garnished with his smiling welcoming face. By origin, he was born into the family of late Mal. Isa Qasim Jama’are. He was born months after Nigeria gained its independence in Jama’are town in Jama’are Local Government Area of Bauchi State. He attended Central primary school Jama’are from 1969 to 1976, and later proceeded to Government Secondary School Azare from 1976-1981. Dr. Mustapha joined Bauchi College of Arts and Science (BACAS) between 1981 and 1983. He proceeded to Bayero University Kano and obtained a Bachelor Degree of Arts in Hausa and Islamic studies from 1983 to 1986. Upon graduation, Imam Mustapha was posted to Islamic Trust of Nigeria (ITN) Zaria, Kaduna state for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1987. He was retained immediately after his service to head the Mass Education Unit of the Islamic Centre from 1987 to 1995. While in Zaria, he proceeded and got his Masters in Islamic jurisprudence from University of Jos between 1991 and 1993. Dr. Mustapha was absorbed into Ahmadu Bello University in November 1994 with the Department of Education where he proceeded for his terminal Degree which he obtained from Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto in the year 2010 with specialization in Zakat Administration.
The life of Imam Mustapha was a simple one and Zaria town predominately became his base. He has largely lived his life in Zaria of Kaduna state where he attached himself with the Muslim community in all endeavors. He was an Imam leading Jum’uat prayers in two Central Mosques ; The A.B.U central masjid and ITN central masjid, all in Zaria. It even became typical of him to lead prayers almost in every gathering he found himself, just as described by one of his friends, Professor Salisu Shehu “Mallam Mustapha is our Automatic Imam”. Likewise, in every opportunity he preaches peace and always talk about good manners in his usual gentle manner, with carefully selected words full of wisdom. He never gets tired of Da’awah programs and he relatively invest all his extra earnings in the sake of Da’awah. Settling disputes amongst sects on Campus, resolving conflicts of leadership in his community and between couples has form so much of Baba’s routine. He dislikes most worldly things especially the presentation of political practices, a reason he utilizes every free time he has got, to seclude in his private library either to read or write. Through that, he came about pamphlets and books on societal problems, including basic Ibadat such as Layyah, Zakat, Morals, Fasting and so on.
Late Dr. was one-time a Provost in the College of Legal studies, Misau for 4 years, but we see not so much difference about his personality. In terms of spending, dressing or any other thing which could portray his position as a provost, that we could not find much difference between him and any staff of the institution. He forfeited most of his allowances and served with so much passion and selflessness. Indeed, the story of his kindness and selfless leadership style where ever he was to lead cannot be captured here.
As his eldest male child, I was his personal driver. I termed the period we travel together as my “school life”. In all our journeys, it is though as if I was admitted into a behavioral or moral (tarbiyah) college. He taught me virtually everything, everything i need. The Tafseer of sheikh Ja’afar Adam has always been our music no matter the distance of a journey. He fondly calls me “Abdullahi Sarkin Mota” and through such, he corrects the way I talk, my interactions with people, perception and everything including the smile or otherwise on my face whenever I meet people. Baba has been very strict in the molding (tarbiyah) of his children, anybody that was under him will testify to that, but a complete opposite of him you will find when he interacts with people outside. He reads the Quran more than any book and he enjoys prayer (sallah) to the extent he may just start to pray whenever he gets angry. I am currently a dropout from your college Baba, of course I am still not ripe to graduate. So much memories and dreams, my thinking has always been about you, and the courage I have on writing have always failed me, it is always tears with severe pain of separation.
Innalillahi wa inna ilaihirraji’un! While in the hospital, that moment when a young Doctor confirmed Baba was no more, the world turned black. We were all confused, I held my two brothers present and told them to return everything to Allah as tears rolled down my cheeks. I didn’t know how to inform my Mum whom I know has been hypertensive for long. Immediately an idea came to me, I texted innalillahi wainna ilaihirajiun and fortunately it lessen the shock. One of the closest persons to him was Engr. Muhammad Ibrahim Gamawa (Baba Gamawa). He had been an old friend since from their secondary school days back in Azare town of Bauchi State. I didn’t know how to approach him. It was a terrible, daunting and sleepless night for all of us. We are 17, his biological children and so many of whom he takes care of. That night, we texted and called all the people we could and within very short time, it was everywhere. Luckily, it was on 29th of Ramadan and the month reached 30th which made him amongst those that died during Ramadan. The trauma made me forget to take sahoor. We arrived home with his corpse around 5:10am after the adhan had been called. I went into the house looking at traumatized faces of my siblings and neighbors, and already it was a full house. It was really a tough moment. Some of my sisters had already collapsed and were taken to the hospital. I knew then that a huge responsibility has been bestowed upon me when my name was called for virtually everything. I could see uneasiness especially from the little younger ones. We had to go for subhi prayer, our masjid was also full to capacity and you could see nothing but pain in the eyes of people. I had to take part in condoling so many who couldn’t withstand looking at any of us without breaking down. After the prayers, the Imam as well could not hold himself, everybody was in pain and confused about the death. Indeed death is painful. The time for Janaza was then slated and there it went.
That early morning, through social and local media around, people kept posting and saying so much good about him, this was comforting and in a way gave us the strength of bearing the huge loss. He received a lot of testimonies from all and sundry. To the best of our knowledge Baba died while he was still useful to his community. Baba, the community you served missed you, the Institutions you worked cherish you, the people you helped prayed for you, your student in the university and from your various majlis are in tears of losing you, your friends and relatives are trying in taking care of your family. Baba, your Lord has answered your prayers. You have always prayed to die and receive good testimonies. Your Janaza was well attended Baba. All signs of husnul khatima was present in you. Oh Allah! Forgive your servant and grant him eternal reset. Oh Allah! Take care of his family and bless those that stand firm in supporting us in this trying moment. From the time you left us, we have always missed you and we do pray for you and pray for Allah to reunite us with you in the best destination.