Inna lillahi wa’inna ilaihi rajiun
My first Islamiyya school teacher is gone. “Malamin Islamiyya” has finally gone to the great beyond. Allahummaghfir lahu warhamhu warhamna ba’adahu.
I am approaching 60, Alhamdulillah, but to the best of my knowledge, in my home town—Tafawa Balewa, I do not know of any single person among the young and old, and even among the dead, whose real name got completely buried by his nickname since the late 60s and up to the 27th day of Ramadan, 1444 (April 18, 2023) except Malam Abdulkareem Barau. If one would go to Tafawa Balewa and later Dass to look for Malam Abdulkareem Barau, he may hardly find or locate him. But let him mention ‘Malamin Islamiyya’ certainly, even a very young person born decades after Malamin Islamiyya took to trading would take the person to him. This is the extent to which the nickname Malamin Islamiyya completely overshadowed the real name of our most resilient, most patient and most consistent Islamiyya school teacher in Tafawa Balewa in the late sixties and early seventies. I, Salisu Shehu, actually got to know his real name much later, after I graduated from the university.
What is most instructive here is that he had lived and died with a nickname that bears witness to a most meritorious, most virtuous work one would love to do in life, which is teaching the Qur’an, the hadith, Tauhid, fiqh, etc to the younger ones. This reminds me of the saying of Sahibur Risala, Al-Allamah Ibn Abi Zaid Al- Qairawani said in his Muqaddima that, “teaching the young ones (Muslim children) the book of Allah (Al-Qur’an) blows off the wrath of Allah.” May Allah save him from hell fire and reward him Jannatul firdaus with the hundreds or thousands of hours he spent teaching almost all the younger ones of my generation in the only Islamiyya School in Tafawa Balewa in those years.
I am a teacher, Alhamdulillah. I know that teachers greatly impact on their students and they leave indelible memories also in them (the students). I personally appreciate this fact with regards to ‘Malamin Islamiyya’. This is because for over 50 years now, his memory always comes back to my mind whenever I begin to count in Arabic,— Wahid, ithnan, thalthah etc., whenever I read the names of the months in the Islamic Calendar—Muharram, Safar etc. or whenever I sing “Tala’al badru alaina min thaniyyatil wada’i, wajabash- shukru alaina ma da’aa lillahi da’i, or whenever I sing, “begen Muhammadu ya cika mini zuciya, a cikinta ba sauran muhalli Ko daya”, etc. It was just less than 10 years ago that I discovered here in Kano that the last Hausa verse above is one of the many religious poems written by the late Sheikh Nasiru Kabara, Rahimahullah. But we were chanting it in our Islamiyya school in Tafawa Balewa in the sixties.
Something that may be most instructive here is that we learnt all these in the Islamiyya before we got enrolled in primary school. I always take pride in the fact that I knew the names of the months in Islamic Hijri Calendar in Islamiyya much earlier than those of the Gregorian Calendar which I got to know after getting enrolled into primary school in 1972. When I was in the Islamiyya school, I didn’t know January, February, etc, courtesy of Malamin Islamiyya.
Allahummaghfir lahu warhamhu wa’anta Khairul Ghafireen.
Alhamdulillah. Wassalatu Wassalamu ala Rasulillah.
Prof. Salisu Shehu sent this piece from Kano
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