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In memory of a Sheikh

The 25th of May 2018 marked one year after the transition to eternal glory of one of the most historic, accomplished, ingenious and respected Islamic scholars cum Arifubillah in Ebiraland in particular and Nigeria in general, Asheik Muhammad Amin Abdullah(RTA).

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Sheik Amin, as he was fondly called, was born to the family of a revered Islamic teacher, late Malam Abdullahi Ibrahim and late Malama Bilkisu Andori on April 21, 1963. His father, well known for his piety and asceticism, carved a niche for himself in the recitation of madhee (salutation) on the noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) every Friday at the Okene Central Mosque while he was alive. The Chief Imam of Ebiraland, Alhaji Musa Galadima, reserved a special time for him during the Friday sermons where he recites some special verses of alburda – that famous eulogy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) compiled by Imam Busairi.

Malam Abdulrahman Adangara, a close confidante of Sheik Amin, told this writer about the circumstances surrounding his birth. According to him, before the birth of Sheik Amin, none of his father’s children survived infancy. It got to a point where some of his wives divorced him because they couldn’t cope with the recurrent mortality but Malam Abdullahi was hopeful and steadfast in his trials and tribulations. It was said that whenever he lost a child he would give thanks to Allah by saying Alhamdullahi to anyone who came to sympathize with him. But an incident happened that shook late Malam Abdullahi. His last child that died before the birth of Sheik Amin touched him so much that he cried out to Allah to spare him a child that would bury him when he dies. That night he was said to have dreamt of the birth of a child whose name shall be Muhammad Amin. Such was the circumstances surrounding the birth of Sheik Amin, the only child of his parents. He had no siblings.

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According to those who know him, Sheik Amin exhibited signs of being special right from his childhood. His childhood friend, Engineer Muhammad Lawi, Director of Engineering Services at Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Abuja, told this writer that as children, they were all attracted to him because of his unusual intelligence and composure. He said they naturally deferred to him to lead them without any prodding.

Sheik Amin’s intellectual ability manifested quite early. He took first position from Primary 1-6 and completed the recitation of the Qur’an in record time.

It was during his wolimatul Qur’an in the late 70s that the grand Sheik of Ebiraland, Late Sheik Ahmad Rufai, was said to have foretold the greatness of the young Sheik Amin. Having known the father of Sheik Amin and his devotion to Islam, and seeing the little boy’s scholarly prowess, Sheik Rufai told Ebira people to rejoice because their scholar has arrived.

After his primary school, Sheik Amin proceeded to the  famous Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies popularly called  Markaz of late Sheik Yusuf Abdullahi  El-Lokoji (RTA) in Lokoja, Kogi State in 1977. In his quest for all-round Islamic Knowledge, Sheik Amin went beyond the curriculum of the Institute to seek further knowledge from renowned Islamic scholars of those days out of his tight formal academic schedules. Some of the eminent Lokoja scholars he studied under include late Sheik Sharu Garba, late Sheik Shuaibu Kenci and late Sheik Abdullahi Baba Doko, among others.

In Okene, he also studied under the grand Sheik of Ebiraland, late Sheik Ahmad Rufai (RTA). Others are late Sheik Ahmad Araga, late Sheik Ali Ososo, Late Sheik Yusuf Alkanawy, among others.

 It was at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies Lokoja that he became famous because of his sharp IQ and sound moral character. One of his school mates, Malam Muhammad Sodangi of the FCT Judiciary narrated to this writer one incident that made the entire school recognize the genius in Sheik Muhmmad Amin Abdullah. He said there was an important book that the students were required to read but it was not available in the library. It was only one student in the school that had the book and he rarely lent it to anyone. According to Sodangi, Sheik Amin had a chance meeting with this student one day and pleaded to have a glance at the book which the boy obliged.  Sheik Amin glanced through the book for less than 20 minutes and memorized everything, reproduced it (writing) and made a copy available in the library for the use of others. Sodangi said after that incident, it dawned on the entire school that a genius was born. For those who knew him, Sheik Amin possessed a superb memory.

It was therefore not surprising when he won an Egyptian government scholarship through the instrumentality of the proprietor of the Institute, late Sheik Yusuf Abdullahi El-Lokoji (RTA) to study at the famous Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 1982. He graduated with First Class Honors in Ulumul- Hadith (The Science of Hadith) in 1988. Though he studied Ulumul-Hadith, he was also a master of other branches of Islamic Knowledge such as Nahwu, Tafsir, Fiqh, Lugga, Balaga, mantic, seera among others.

Sheik Ibrahim Ahmad Sudan, his student and the man now in charge of his monthly ta’alim in Okene, described Sheik Amin as a complete walking Islamic university with all the faculties and departments intact. He said apart from memorizing the Qur’an at Azhar in 1983 and several books of hadith, Sheik Amin also memorized the most difficult book on Nahwu , a book of poem with one thousand lines called Alfiyatu bn Malik. According to him, Sheik Amin also committed to memory a book of logic (mantic) called Main Sullam by Akhdari and the famous book of eulogy of the prophet called Burdatu Madheeh by Imam Busairi.

Sheik Ibrahim Sudan told this writer that leading Islamic Scholars in Nigeria and the Muslim world hold Sheik Amin in high esteem. He said Sheik Dahiru Bauchi once described him as a man with uncommon intellect when his late son Dr. Hadi took Sheik Amin to him. Sheik Aliyu Harazimi(RTA) described Sheik Amin as a possessor of the secret of gausiyya. Sheik Sheriff Saleh Alhussiani of Maiduguri, the Muhaddith of Africa, described Sheik Amin in 1992 as Muhaddith Akbar (Great Scholar of Hadith). Sheik Idris Almagribi from Morocco described Sheik as one of the pillars of Tijanniya in the world when he visited Zaria after his demise.

Sheik Amin burst on the Islamic scene in the roaring and restive 1980s, a period when Islamic awareness, youth activism and radicalism were germinating in Okene and Nigeria at large. He was at the forefront of championing moderation, pursuit of genuine scholarship, discouraging unnecessary confrontation with older scholars and constituted authority among the youth.

His influence spread far and near. His base in Zaria was a hub of scholarly activities among the leading light of the Islamic movement in the Zaria-Kano axis. He acted behind the scene in giving scholarly opinion to the leadership of AT-Tajdeed Movement in Nigeria. 

He was the most influential and revolutionary scholar in Ebiraland, especially among the younger generation.  From 1986 when he began his public lectures in Okene at the age of 23 up to 1990 when it was temporary suspended due to some crisis before it resumed around 1995, Sheik Amin’s influence on the youth was profound. He taught them true Islamic Knowledge, the etiquette of disagreement in Islam, comparative analysis of Muslim Societies, Da’awa methodology, tafsir, tasawuf, hadith, the love of the prophet, humility and forgiveness.

Sheik Amin was the voice of peace in Ebiraland. He was the only scholar that every clan listens to. During the deadly clannish fight between Oziogu and Omoye clan in Okene around 2008-2009, he was the only scholar who served as a rallying point in Okene. He was the one who went round the battle front to initiate peace between the warring factions.

Though an adherent of the Tijanniyya order, he was the bridge builder between the sects in Ebiraland. He averted many crises between the Tijanniya and Izala sects in Ebiraland. He had the courage to speak the truth to the powers that be without being loud and arrogant. He loved Ebiraland so dearly.

All genuine Anebira will forever remember the essential Sheik Amin, our authentic scholar, spiritual guide and mentor. He had a magnetic personality. All who came in contact with him were convinced that he loved them. We shall always remember his wise jokes, simplicity, love for the poor and generosity. He was at home with all categories of people. 

We all miss you ya sheik! May the light of the noble prophet whom you loved so much continue to illuminate your grave! May Allah grant you Aljanatu Firdausi, guide and bless the young family you left behind, Amin.

Bello sent this piece from Dutse, Jigawa State.

 

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