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When death adds to fame: Tribute to Sheikh Imam

 We didn’t know how iconic, popular and scholarly endowed you were until you fell sick, which eventually led to your death last Friday. The social…

 We didn’t know how iconic, popular and scholarly endowed you were until you fell sick, which eventually led to your death last Friday. The social media platforms were awash with the news of your sickness, courtesy of your students whom you had mentored and trained for decades – people from different parts of the country and walks of life, cutting across sex and age praying for your quick recovery. 

Yes, you have truly recovered and retired to the world where you would be sick no more. May Allah forgive you and grant you Jannatul Firdaus.

Sheikh Sani Imam spent the whole of his productive life teaching and mentoring students some of whom have excelled to the extent of issuing fatwa like Sheikh Ahmad Atiku Auwal of WISAL TV and some notable scholars in and outside Kaduna State. 

He taught in many Islamic schools including his alma mater – Madrasatul Abdulazeez Islamiyya popularly known as Makaratantar Ali Danhassan and Sheikh Abubakar Gummi College known as Makarantar Chanchangi. Sheikh Sani was also an Arabic teacher at the Government Girls Secondary School Kinkinau and lecturer at the Kaduna State Polytechnic and Usmanu Danfodiyo Institute Kaduna. This is beside other lessons he offered to Arabic students at home and in other places.

As a craftsman, Sheikh Sani trained many people including myself on male cloth designs otherwise known as Kaftan. I could remember about 20 years ago; he had designed a cloth for one of his customers at Kasuwan Barchi and sent me to deliver it to him. When the man opened it, he shouted Kai Kayan nan sunyi kyau that the design was very beautiful. He hanged it on the wall and started calling people to come and see.

Ustaz, as he was fondly called, believed in giving out his best in whatever he did, which was why his contemporaries, students and colleagues addressed him by different names. Some called him ‘Bun sheen’, some called him ‘Sibawaih’ after a great Arabian Scholar who mastered Arabic literature while others called him ‘Kibaru’, meaning a big man . All these names were given to him because of his mastery of the Arabic language and literature, as well as his humility and kindness. He authored and published so many books on Arabic literature, which are being used in many Islamic schools. 

As a brother, Ustaz was an icon of peace who fostered unity among our family members. He was someone who calls a spade a spade no matter whose ox is gored. He treated his siblings like his friends, played and joked with them as well as cautioned and advised them accordingly. He used his money to fight injustice and strengthened bonds of relationship. He was truly a pillar who supported many of his brothers in their academic pursuits.

When I first heard the news of his sickness, I called and consoled him, gave him hope of survival because I believe Allah is the miraculous and ultimate healer, and his response was “you are right and by God’s grace I will be alright. Please greet our children and your wife. Thanks, I am grateful”. This had always been his response to my calls until he was barred from receiving calls due to his deteriorating health. From then, I only got information concerning hi health from my other brothers.

Few days after he was taken to a  nursing home and seeing the caliber of people that were thronging to see him, some Christians asked “who is this man?” And when they were told he was just a teacher, they said in astonishment that angels were with him, urging his brothers to emulate his lifestyle.

When my stepmother called and told me they were going to the hospital because Ustaz had been put on life support last Friday, I became worried and continued reciting ‘From Allah we come and to HIM we shall all return’.  I prayed continuously for his recovery but it was obvious the ultimate time had come.  He died around 4pm on that Friday and immediately it started raining.

The news of his death went viral on social media platforms, and people in their hundreds assembled at our family residence in Bashama Road, Tudun Wada Kaduna, waiting for the arrival of his corpse for the final burial rites. The crowd was so massive that motorists had to park their vehicles miles away and trekked down to the area.

Moreover, the kind of notable scholars and other dignitaries that attended his burial testified to his contribution to knowledge and Islam. His death has truly added fame to the Late Imam Labaran’s house. Many people didn’t know that Sheikh Sani was the grandson of the first Imam of the ancient city of Tudun Wada, Imam Labaran of blessed memory.

Sheikh Sani, survived by one wife and six children, attended Government College Kaduna; he obtained a diploma and degree from Kaduna Polytechnic and the Ahmadu Bello University respectively. He has many written but yet-to-be published Arabic poems, the latest being the one composed in honour of the late renown Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Tureta.

Commenting on his demise, Sheikh Ahmad Atiku Auwal said Kaduna State has lost a genius and great scholar who affected so many lives. He described him as humble, pious and a motivator who always wanted the progress of his students.

Our only surviving father, Malam Lawal Imam, said he didn’t know how popular and scholarly endowed his son was until after his death, adding that his death had truly added fame to him and to our family.

He described late Sheikh Sani as highly obedient and dependable son who wanted the progress of the Imam’s family.

Although it is a sad moment, the number of people who benefitted from your fountain of knowledge, and who have been eulogizing you give us hope that you ended well. We are equally glad that you passed away on Friday. We will forever continue to pray for you and, Insha Allah, look after your children.

May you continue to rest in peace my brother!


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