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Unforgettable losses: Honouring the legacy of Alhaji Mikail Abubakar’s family

The past three years have woven a tapestry of profound sorrow and irreplaceable losses for Alhaji Mikail Abubakar’s family. This tribute celebrates the enduring legacies…

The past three years have woven a tapestry of profound sorrow and irreplaceable losses for Alhaji Mikail Abubakar’s family. This tribute celebrates the enduring legacies of our beloved father, Alhaji Mikail Abubakar; our cherished mother, Rukayya; and our dear elder sister, Wasila Mikail Abubakar. In the face of our loss, we find comfort in the profound impact they had on both family and society.

Alhaji Mikail Abubakar: A patriarch’s farewell (1931 – 2020)

The patriarch of our family, Alhaji Mikail Abubakar, bid farewell to this world at a venerable age of 89 on May 11, 2020. His departure marked the end of an era, leaving a void that resonates through the hearts of his eight surviving children, numerous grandchildren, relatives and associates. Though the grief was collective, his passing held a personal resonance for me. Memories of shared breakfasts, market visits and Friday prayers remain etched in my mind. 

One such memory was a visit to greet Sheikh Abubakar Jibrin, the Imam of Bayero University’s old campus mosque, after a Friday prayer. The respected scholar prayed for me and asked Allah to bless my career and make me a memoriser of the Holy Qur’an. I am glad that He has answered that.

Baba, as we affectionately called him, was not merely the leader of our household, he was the embodiment of wisdom and guidance. A family man of immense virtue, he cared deeply for his children and everyone around him. He always asked us to be honest and sincere and take our eyes off others’ belongings. Despite his busy schedules, he would create time to visit his daughters’ matrimonial homes and other family members and friends, a tradition we now strive to uphold. A freedom fighter and associate of Malam Aminu Kano, he was forced to leave his hometown for promoting the ideologies of the then Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). 

Baba’s commitment to Islamic teachings and community service was unwavering. Though not an Islamic scholar, he followed the teachings of respected scholars like the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, Sheikh Ja’afar Adam and others. 

Leading our local mosque, he rarely missed a congregational prayer or the different classes offered by clerics like Dr Umar Bawa, who described him as “a lover of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).” 

We were amazed by one of his final acts of generosity, recalling a nearly four-decade-old debt days before his passing and asking to be taken to Singer market to repay the family of a former business partner, which reflected his commitment to settling all worldly and spiritual accounts.

Rukayya Abubakar: A mother’s love

Fourteen months after Baba’s departure, we said goodbye to our beloved mother, Rukayya, on July 18, 2021.  She fell ill three days after returning to Kano from Abuja, where she came to see my newborn daughter, Rukayya (Aleena), named after her. She said she was happy to have a successor after the naming ceremony. It didn’t occur to me that she actually meant her time was off. 

Her passing left a huge void that no words could adequately fill. Unlike Baba’s demise, in which COVID-19-induced lockdown prevented me from attending his funeral, I had the chance to travel to Kano to mourn alongside relatives and bid a final farewell to a woman who ran an open house.

Inna, as we fondly called her, was a caring and peace-loving soul. Her house was not merely a home but a sanctuary of warmth and inclusion. There was no discrimination between us and the stepchildren she had raised for decades. We grew up with people we thought were part of our family, only to realise later that they were students of a nearby Islamic school. 

Inna’s legacy endures through her continuous support for the school, locally known as Makarantar Malam Tijjani. Her enduring spirit and commitment to serving others were evident until her final moments.

Inna endured much in life, including witnessing the death of 9 of her 12 children. Yet, Alhamdulillah, she found solace in the three who had seen her to the end of her life. Her impact extended beyond her immediate family, she voluntarily cared for Qur’anic students and earned accolades from those she nurtured through their studies. One such person, Gwani Naziru, once told her, “I’m not surprised that Allah Has given you a child who memorised the Holy Qur’an because of what you did to us as Qur’anic students.” He was commenting when he was told that I had won the Qur’anic recitation competition for that year. 

Wasila Mikail Abubakar: A sister’s embrace (1980 – 2023)

The final blow came in November 2023, amplifying an already challenging period. The news of my elder sister, Wasila’s passing reached me during a journey through multiple countries. It was a few minutes before midnight, local time, in the Namibian city of Walvis Bay when my wife called. “Did Umar or Abby (my elder brother) call you,” she asked. I said no, then her voice went low and she wanted to retreat. I knew at that moment that it was going to be bad news. Wasila was in my mind, having left her in the hospital the night before. Her departure compounded the weight of grief, leaving an indelible mark on my heart.

I was with her at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital less than 24 hours earlier. She was strong and lively as always, even though it was clear to me that she was in pain. It was difficult to imagine that would be our last meeting.

Wasila, a caring and family-oriented woman, was a friend to all. Her warmth and gratitude for even the smallest gesture endeared her to everyone she encountered. Despite facing life’s challenges, she courageously pursued education after marriage, graduating from the Sa’adatu Rimi University of Education. 

Her legacy lives on in the hearts of those she touched with her kindness and generosity.

A triple loss, indeed. As we remember Alhaji Mikail Abubakar, Rukayya Abubakar and Wasila Mikail Abubakar, we find solace in the knowledge that they lived lives of significance and impact. May Allah grant them eternal peace and reunite us with them in Jannatul Firdaus.

Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un – To Allah we belong, and to Him, we shall return. 

 

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