Today, we hope to conclude this mourning period with a ‘share-makoki’ piece, Nagari Nakowa, penned by Brother Salisu Shehu, PhD, who was a very close associate and friend of the departed Mallam.
One day, a group of companions (Sahaba) were sitting with the Prophet (SAW) when a funeral passed. Some of them made nice comments about the dead person. The Prophet promptly said, “Confirmed!” (Wajabat!). Not long after, another funeral passed and the same people made unsavoury remarks about this second dead person. The Prophet similarly said, “Confirmed!” The companions asked the Prophet for explanation. He said that in the case of the first person, his entry into Paradise (Jannah) was confirmed by their comments about him, and in the case of the second, Hellfire was confirmed. The Prophet further explained the significance of the comments that people usually make about the dead. “You are the witnesses of Allah on earth”, he concluded.
The glaring import of this Hadith is that it is recommended in Islam to extol the virtues of a dead person and broadcast his righteous deeds. And as clearly denoted in the Hadith, mentioning the virtuous character of the dead adds to their records of good deeds and elevates their position in Heaven. Beside the implication explained above, there is also obvious wisdom in doing that. It is the fact that for those of us that are still alive, and especially the young ones among us, such eulogies about good people presents models worthy of emulation, as well as inspiration for self improvement.
These are the points that actually not only motivated me but really compelled me to write this tribute to a man that I hold so dear in my heart, and really love for the sake of Allah – Dr Haruna Muhammad Salihi. “Surely Allah alone has the knowledge of the Hour. It is He Who sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, nor does he know in what land he will die. Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware” (Qur’an, 31:34).
There is no doubt that Dr. Salihi was an intellectual of high standing. He could easily stand out among the most respected, reputable, and articulate scholars in the midst of colleagues. He earned and commanded a great deal of respect from his students not only because of his magnanimity and kindness, but also because of his intellectual and academic resourcefulness and soundness. What may however be amazing was his ability to combine and carry along that kind of commitment to scholarship along with Da’awah work and community service.
If I had written this tribute before Dr. Salihi’s janazah (Funeral Prayer) at Bayero University as I initially intended, I would have missed a very spectacular point that practically illustrates his virtue. The reader of this piece, and who perhaps did not know Dr. Salihi, might be thinking that one has been exaggerating about his virtues, but his funeral was a testimony to all that. The mammoth crowd that gathered to observe the janazah prayer and escort him to his permanent abode was proof to all the eulogies we have passed on him in this and similar write ups. The janazah was in fact like an Eid congregation. A similar funeral prayer was never before witnessed at Bayero University, Kano.
Here they came, brother unto brother, condoling, commiserating with one another, paying their last homage to a person whose name rightly depicted his character – salihi indeed he was. What may be most intriguing would be: how could such a very low profile personality pull such a big congregation? The answer is simple: he was a good Muslim in the true sense of the word, and as defined by our beloved Prophet (SAW) when he says: “The Muslim is a person the evils of whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe from”. Mallam Haruna was not given to backbiting or gossip. He always found excuses for people when others talked ill of them. He was just good. May Allah forgive him and have mercy for him and make Jannatul Firdaus his dwelling place and permanent abode. May our own end be as good as his or even more, for Allah is Able to do everything.
The death of Dr. Salihi was a sad event. Indeed it was to the BUK and Da’awah community a tragedy. But as Muslims we believe in Allah’s decree and we find consolation in that. “Every soul”, Allah says in the Qur’an, “shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whosoever is removed away from Fire and admitted to Paradise he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception” (Qur’an, 2: 185). Death is, therefore, inevitable and however desperately a person avoids or tries to escape, it would get him in the end. “Say (to them): “Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.” (Qur’an, 62:8).
Similarly, Allah adds: “But no soul shall die save by Allah’s leave, neither shall anyone die before his appointed time. “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) World, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful” (Qur’an, 2: 145).
Because of our affinity to him, we would see Dr. Salihi gone too soon. But bearing in mind the message of the above verses about the inevitability of death, it will not take long we will join him. Much as the late Mamman Shata said in his dirge on the late Ciroman Gombe back in the 1970s: “Kowa yam mutu bai sauri ba! Mu da mu ke nan ba mu dade ba! Sai mun zo Ciroman Gombe”.
Sai mun zo Dr. Haruna Salihi! Allahummaghfirhu, warhamhu, warhamna ba’adahu, amin.
AND FROM THE COLUMNIST…As Ramadan approaches, we end with the prayer of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, at similar times: “ALLAHUMMA BALLIGHNA RAMADAN…(O ALLAH! SPARE US TO REACH RAMADAN…)”