‘Nobody knows where, when his death will meet him’
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
BRETHREN, he bid his wife bye, as he always did, early in the morning. He promised he would be back, as he always did, by evening time. But that day was going to be different; last Sunday would be different. Neither he nor our sister knew he would be back home in a body-bag. In other words, neither he nor his wives knew he already had an appointment with death, the destroyer of all happiness. Neither he nor our sisters had the premonition that their husband’s ‘visa’ on earth had only a couple of hours left before expiration.
Full of life, he sauntered out of his apartment. Ignorant of his destiny, he beckoned on one of his children to accompany him on the journey. Not for the first time would he follow his father on his numerous trips in furtherance of his divine calling. As father and son stepped out of the home, there was no way anybody could have known that the young boy was stepping away from the comfort zone of his mother’s care in order to accompany his father on a journey to eternity.
Dear sister, Professor Abdul Hakeem Mobolaji was a brother in faith. We were together under the canopy of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN). We all learnt to strive and excel in our various fields. He soon became a star in his choosing endeavour. In his life and living, faith and action found an uncanny union; at home and abroad, cerebral excellence found practical manifestation. As for the young boy who accompanied him on that fateful journey, it had been his destiny that his potentials would only be known to celestial authorities.
Brethren, early Sunday morning, our brother and his boy embarked on that trip from Ibadan to Lagos. All journeys on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, as I argued in a creative work, is always a journey from the known to the unknown: a journey with a definite beginning with an indefinite end; a journey from hell to paradise or vice-versa. All journeys on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, like others on our roads, are always reminiscent of the identity you and I bear without choice: that we are Nigerians and Nigerians we shall remain. Our roads are metaphors for where this country is and where it should not be. Our roads remind you of failed governance; they constantly call attention to corruption in the polity. Our roads are instructive of the lack and loss of discipline from top to bottom; they awaken you to that highly unknowable nexus between destiny and human choice. When a driver plunges himself and his passengers into ruination and destruction, you remember the divine remonstration-’you are responsible for your self-preservation’.
Brethren, our brother made the trip to Lagos without any incident. He arrived the city of magic to the warm reception of his brethren and guests. Soon they bade him bye after concluding other appointments and schedules. To be an activist is to live a life of no boredom; the essence of life, as I always argue, is to constantly give life to life. In company of a younger colleague in the academic world, our brother set out on the return journey back to Ibadan. He is renown, unlike some of us, for extreme caution behind the wheels. If such people would die in an accident, it would be not because of their own making.
Brethren, the trip from Lagos to Ibadan had gone without any incident until our brother got to a place known as Alapako on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The spot was opened up to traffic by the contractor late last year. But it has since become a spot of and for feast by the gods. In other words, it appeared the contractor opened the road up in order to smoothen the transition of humans from here to there. Alapako features an open-ended, well-paved, well-tarred but un-partitioned part of the express-way. Thus reckless drivers on the road, drivers who derive extra strength from alcoholism and drugs, usually manifest their recklessness. Whenever an accident occurs there, it is usually fatal and orgish. It is at that same spot that our brother met his end. The story had it that he had an head-on-collision with a bus whose driver had already lost his mind. Our brother died on a road he had traversed a thousand times.
Brethren, just before we did the Janazah, I was invited over to say ‘tasleem’ to him. I beheld a face at peace with itself. Our brother lied on the couch with his eyes closed. It felt as if he was deeply asleep. But what is the meaning of death other than sleeping. Sleeping into oblivion; sleeping into eternity. Death is all about sleeping and slipping. It is about slipping away from this into another world. It is all about slipping away from the stranglehold of illusion into the open arms of the Almighty, into the open and unknowable regions of reality and certainty. I beheld a face which now sees what we cannot see. I sought to ask him: how does it feel being dead? “Probably how it feels being under illumination while others are in darkness”, he probably would have responded. Brethren, no living being gets to know how it feels being dead until it drops dead; you appreciate what you have most when you are deprived of it. You do not know how it feels being bereaved of a husband and son at the same time unless you happen to be a wife to our departed brother.
Thus Abdul-Hakeem Mobolaji’s journey on terrestrial earth came to an end at a time he least expected. He disembarked from this train, the train of life, too suddenly for all to fathom. But is it not true that our departure shall hack back to our arrival? Yes we came by force not by choice; we shall go not by choice but by force. Our emergence into existence is subsequent to a life of nothingness; our death shall be precedent to a life of nothingness. Except for those who used this life as a bargain for the afterlife.
Dear sister, while praying over the corpse of our brother preparatory to his final journey to his real abode, the abode of solitude, I remembered that his death meant the ‘death’ of many other souls. At his departure, his wives became widows; at his death, his remaining children lost a loving and caring father. At his departure, the Ummah lost one of his thinkers and drivers of its mission. Brethren, while some die in order that they may be mourned by the multitude, others would pass on and the world would heave a sigh of relief.
But brethren, it seems we are back. Ironically, we are back to the pursuit of the illusion that undergirds our existence: the pursuit of earthly possession- of live and love, of wealth and warmth, of comfort where pain is inevitable. My brother, the day your life would come to an end, nothing, and I repeat, nothing in this world would stop your transition. May the soul of our brother and others be accepted into divine redemption (Aamin). (08122465111 for texts only).
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