By Ari-Ajia Olanrewaju
“From You We Come, Unto You We Shall Return”
An anonymous once wrote that dying is more certain than being born. This should be an incontestable fact. To bring this fact home however, from the high elevation of philosophy contraption down to the understanding of the ordinary people: there is no assurance that a pregnant woman will bring forth a living being at the end of her gestation period. But, that such child from such woman, if successful delivered, will die one day, sooner than later is incontrovertible. If you like, let your stay in the world be longer than that of a Methuselah, as we often jokingly remarked, the simply truth is that it has been apportioned that Every man shall taste death. As our religion even made us to know that even death will die. This is how Allah has so defined the human world.
The above fact should therefore be a lesson for all of us that while we can not do anything to prevent our death, we can do a lot to live a lasting memory on earth and in the minds of those that will cross our paths on the ephemeral journey to this world. Let us hold on on the belief or not of the judgement day for now.
Yesterday, like it was early this week with the death of Sheik Olayiwola Kamalideen, the Khallifatul Adabiyya, the Muslim community of Igbogbo-Bayeku-Ikorodu lost one of our own. Imam Sheriffdeen Andu was the Chief Imam of Awobo Estate in Igbogbo, and also the son of the present Chief Imam for the entire Igbogbo-Bayeku community. His death was an unexpected big blow to everyone that knew him in his life time. Our own shock was not so much because he was still young, never mind that the positions he occupied placed him among the crème de la crème. Our shock was rather because there was nothing to convince us that he was unaware of his brief sojourn here on earth. It should not take only those who were close to him to agree to this fact.
There are very few people that we gravitated toward since we relocated to Awobo Estate, and so we will not claim to be one of Imam Sheriffdeen’s right hands men. We were however close to him enough to know that it is not only members of his immediate family that will miss him. The Muslim community in Igbogbo-Bayeku and the entire league of Imams within that macrocosm of Muslim world will miss him. The officials of NIREC, Igbogbo-Bayeku LCDA and Lagos state at large, where he was once one of the cornerstones of interreligious harmonious cohabitation will also miss your comradeship. Also, members of the human rights NGO he belong in his life time will not forget his invaluable roles among them. They will be proud of him as not just a bench warmer among them, but a frontline apostle of the girl child’s right, gender emancipation and a better family bonding. If anyone ever doubted these observations and those earlier mentioned, he or she is free to visit our late Imam’s Facebook page for confirmation and clarification. To your immediate family members, we have only one word: Yes, your breadwinner has left you; but put your fates in Allah, the all-sufficient, who never will fail, who keeps all promises. He is more than enough for you.
Imam Sheriffdeen has many befitting and aptly chosen sobriquets from his admirers- Ya Imam, was one. Mukkadam was another. He was an Imam with a cosmopolitan view of life. While he was an unapologetic faithful, he held on fervently to a live-and-let-live philosophy of life.
Even though, he hardly had more than a secondary school in western education, his passion and love for oriental knowledge and people from this leaning is not common among his peers. Indeed, he had toiled with the idea of returning to school to take a law degree. It is not a surprise that in his Imamship, he befriended those with occidental background as well as the orientalist. This should explain his ever inclusive ideological approach to leadership; where he was always emphasising the empowerment and development of his jamah. During one of the Walimat Qur’an of his Arabic Leaning school, he and Brother Sanni Hussein had cornered me to make another public appearance of my books, despite my own passive interest. His argument that did me in was that, a romance of Islamic knowledge and western knowledge will always help young Muslim children to know that there can always be a successful meeting point between these two ideologies.
Well, Imam Sheriffdeen Andu may not have lived long enough, but he had lived well enough for him to pull the kind crowd that are reserved for only the very referred and honoured among us at his burial. It was not only the unrelenting heavy downpour that could not stop sympathisers from being part of his janazat, even the fear of the contagious Coronavirus could not forestall people from paying their last respect to a man many believed has done his bit well, within the means his maker has allowed him and the time given him.
Inalillahi Wahina Illehirojihun!