It was a rare gathering and ceremony at the residence of prominent politician, business mogul and philanthropist, Alhaji Bala Bello Tinka.
The place was filled to capacity last Saturday as friends, relatives, business associates and well-wishers gathered to celebrate with him for completing the recitation of the Holy Qur’an (Khatma) at an advanced age of 51 years.
Alhaji Bala Tinka was not alone in achieving this feat as he was joined by six other elderly classmates. It is a feat they achieved within four years.
The others are; a 50-year-old civil servant, Sadisu Magaji, Aminu Ahmed, 48 a tailor, Ahmad Abdulkadir Tsada, 56 tailor, Muhammad Maigana 58 artisan, Engineer Mohammed Musa and the youngest student in the class, Muhammad Abba Pantami, 39 an artisan.
Guests that graced the event praised the perseverance of the celebrants who dedicated their time to study the glorious book despite their tight schedules and advanced age.
Tinka and his classmate’s journey to the complete recitation of the Holy Qur’an started four years ago, their class tutor Malam Dahir Al’amin told North East Trust.
“The class started four years ago when Tinka and his friends invited me to teach them the Qur’an. When we started some of them could not even read the Arabic alphabet, but with dedication and their commitment they can now read each verse in the Qur’an perfectly.
According to Malam Dahir the process was tedious being elderly students with a lot of responsibilities.
“Being elderly people with tight schedules, the process was slow at the beginning but with time they got used to it, from a verse per day we improved to half a page and later upgraded to a complete page,” he said.
Another fascinating thing about the celebrants is while they are all elderly with families and various children, their tutor is a 26-year-old bachelor.
“I was 22 when we started the class in 2015 but there was a never a time they disrespected me because of my age. They accorded me same respect as other students below my age have been giving me in other schools,” he said.
Dahir Al’amin said he memorized the Holy Qur’an when he was 18 years and has been teaching different categories of people how to recite the Holy book, “but today is the first time I witnessed elderly students completing the recitation of the glorious Qur’an.”
“I believe this will encourage other people to follow their footsteps, especially the youths who spend most of their time roaming the streets or arguing over unimportant matters at joints.”
The tutor said after completing the recitation of the Qur’an, the class will now focus on the exegesis (Tafsir) of the holy book, adding that other Islamic books will be introduced to help them understand the religion more.
Some of the graduating students who spoke with our correspondent expressed their delight over the feat.
Muhammad Abba Pantami, 39, who is married and has six children, explained how the journey started four years ago.
“We used to gather at the residence of Alhaji Bala Tinka, where we will be chatting till after 12am almost daily. One day during one of our sittings, Tinka advised us to start learning the Qur’an instead of wasting our time discussing worldly matters.
“We were about 16 at the time and we all agreed. We engaged a tutor and started the class, however only seven of us were opportuned to remain in the class and complete the Qur’an. When we started it was slow. He was teaching us from Saturday to Wednesday and we would rest on Thursdays and Fridays and also go on break during festivities,” Pantami said.
Another student, Malam Muhammad Maigana, 58, who has three wives and 14 children, said he decided to go back to school as Prophet Muhammad instructed Muslims to learn from cradle to old age.
“Even though I have learned the Islamic alphabets at a younger age and I can read some parts of the Qur’an, when I heard about this class at Tinka’s house I decided to join and expand my knowledge and understanding of the holy book,” he said.
Maigana added that the major challenge he encountered was combining the studies and struggle to provide food and other basic needs for his family.
He said: “At the beginning it was challenging because of my advanced age and the daily struggle to meet the family obligations. But Alhamdulillah I was able to conquer all these and my next target is to memorize the Qur’an.”
On his part, Bala Tinka, who is the host and mastermind of the Qur’anic class said the Walima was organised not as a show-off but rather to encourage other people to go back and seek Islamic education.
“This event (Walima) was purposely organised to encourage others especially elderly people to follow suit and start such classes in their respective houses or enrol in Islamic classes.
“There were challenges on my part being a frequent traveller, but what kept me going till the end despite our tight schedules is the fear of Allah and the fact that this worldly life is temporary and whatever wealth we have in this life is useless if we failed to achieve greatness in the hereafter,” Tinka said.
The event was attended by prominent Islamic scholars that included Sheikh Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, state Chairmen of the JIBWIS, Sheikh Hamza Adamu Abdulhamid, Sheikh Adamu Girbo and Sheikh Usman Isa Taliyawa, Dr Nazif Muhammad Inuwa, Grand Khadi Usman Baba Liman (Rtd), Commissioner of Zakat and Waqf, Kano State, politicians and businessmen among others.