By Isah Bature

“The best among mankind is he who brings benefit to others” – Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

It is now fifteen years since the brutal killing of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, the Kano based erudite Islamic scholar of international repute.

He fell to assassin’s bullet in the early hours of Friday April 13, 2007 while leading the early morning (subhi) prayers at the Dorayi Juma’at mosque in Kano North western Nigeria.

Though every soul must taste death, the demise of such a fearless scholar was felt (and shall continue to be felt by many) for several reasons. Those who listened to his Tafseer for good 13 years would continue to remember him for the impact he has made in their lives. He was remarkable in several respects. He was intelligent, friendly, good mannered, humane, forthright, gentle, understanding, amiable, humble, consummate scholar, a cautious optimist, a believer and a fearless vanguard of Islam and the masses.

Even in death, Sheikh Ja’afar remains a wonderful companion. His works played on various broadcast media are wonderful means of immortalizing him. He was trustworthy, just as he played credible opposition to all government (at all level) policies which contravened Islamic teaching. His sincerity, frankness and fearlessness in telling the truth to the power-that-be made him far above his contemporaries.

Sheikh Ja’afar was a detribalized scholar; he never reduced himself to ethnic or tribal sentiments. He also committed his entire life to the propagation of Islam within and outside Nigeria.

Sheikh Ja’afar was indeed the personification of humanity, honesty, and sincerity of purpose. His life, brief as it turned out to be, benefited many Muslims both within and outside Nigeria. He taught many Islamic books, which include Riyadus-salihin, Umdatul Ahkam, Bulugul Maram, Sifatus-Salatun Nabiy, Arba’una Hadith, and many others in Kano and other part of the country.

He also conducted Ramadan Tafseer (Qur’an commentary) at the famous Indimi Islamic mosque on Damboa road in Maiduguri for 13 years. The famous Indimi Mosque was always full to the brim as early as 2:00pm i.e. two hours prior to the commencement of the Tafseer. People close their place of business from far and near to attend his preaching which is full of wisdom. Students from the University of Maiduguri, Ramat Polytechnic, School of Nursing and others always rush to be part of the wisdom. His Tafseer was aired in many television and radio stations in the country which includes; Radio Nigeria Kaduna, NTA Maiduguri, BRTV Maiduguri, Bauchi Radio Corporation, CTV Kano, OITV Damaturu, and NTA Yola among others.

Late Sheikh Ja’afar had delivered Islamic lectures on diverse topics in Maiduguri for more than a decade in institutions like University of Maiduguri, School of Nursing, Maiduguri, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri among others. He also conducted Tafseer for women at the famous Indimi Mosque in Maiduguri.

Sheikh Ja’afar’s tremendous contribution to scholarship was felt even by the prison inmate in custody. It was the Late Sheikh who introduced the visitation of prison yards by the Ummah during the Holy month of Ramadan in Maiduguri. He led the Muslim Ummah to deliver lectures and donated cloths and foodstuffs to the inmates and advices them to be law abiding and change for better after their term and consider their sojourn as a matter so decreed. The visits to Prison especially during Ramadan have since become annual events. Inmates in the maximum security prison and new prison all in Maiduguri are certainly among those who greatly missed Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam.

Listening to Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, this writer often asked himself whether the sheikh Adam has obtained a higher academic qualification in Political Science or International Relation. This is because of how he (Sheikh Ja’afar) analyzed both national and international issues in an articulate manner as they unfold.

Born on 12th February, 1960 in the ancient city of Daura, Katsina State North Western Nigeria. Sheikh Ja’afar started his education at home from his teacher Mallam Haruna. He was taken to Fage in Kano in 1978 for memorization of the Holy Qur’an. He was also at the Egyptian Cultural Centre situated on Bello Dandogo road, Kano in 1981. He was also at Government Teachers College, Gwale between 1984 and 1988. Later he secured admission into the prestigious Islamic University in Madina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for his first degree which he graduated with flying colours in 1993. He was also at the Sudan’s International University of Africa for his second degree.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam at many times represented Nigeria in International Qur’anic recitation competitions where he makes Nigeria by emerging victorious. During his lifetime he was often (but of course wrongly) described as controversial or confrontational. On the contrary, Sheikh Ja’afar was one of the most peaceful scholars Nigeria ever had. Sheikh Ja’afar was one scholar who valued all types of education and always urges the Ummah especially the youths to further their education western education inclusive. Sheikh Adam told nothing but the truth to whoever is involved. It is the saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that “Tell the truth even if it be unpleasant”. And Sheikh Ja’afar, like any other Muslim, who held the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in high esteem wouldn’t and didn’t hesitate in this regard.

Even as I write this piece fifteen years after the sad event, I never fail to wonder why anyone or group of people for whatever reason should assassinate such a scholar and a gentleman of tremendous goodwill and immeasurable contribution to Islam and humanity; someone who committed the whole of the Holy Qur’an to memory and dedicated his life to the propagation of Islam (peace).

The loss of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam is sad. He left (or rather he was made to leave) when we needed him most- at a time of moral degeneration even among leaders, when some clamour for total ascondment from western education. Those who assassinated Sheikh Ja’afar should know that they might have killed the man but not the light he represented and they will never get away with it Insha Allah if not now (i.e. by bringing them to book by the constituted authorities concern) certainly they’ll be brought to justice on the day of judgment when position, order from the above, status and wealth will be of no avail. Alhamdulillah, the Sheikh died a martyr.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam remains in our memories today, tomorrow and forever. May Allah broaden his entrance into the choicest place in paradise. And may He give us the fortitude to continue to bear this great loss. Allahumma Ameen.

✍🏻 Isa Bature

13th April, 2022.