Imam Abdulhameed Agaka: Legends Don’t Die, by Dahiru Lawal
“When paupers die, there are no comets seen, but even the heavens blaze forth the death Princes”
– Williams Shakespeare
When news of the passing of Sheikh Abdulhameed Agaka, the iconic father of a living legend, boss and father figure to a lot us, Alhaji Yushau Abdulhameed Shuiab, struck like thunder two nights ago, shock and belief took over everywhere. It is not that the announcer was a harbinger of fake news but when we share this space with extraordinary men, we get carried away by their greatness that we don’t want them to go and we don’t imagine them ever leaving the world stage.
Although Alhaji Shuaib, the celebrated publisher of PRNigeria, Economic Confidential and other titles, has a long standing tradition of always keeping his travel itinerary close to his chest simply because the man likes to excite people around him with pleasant surprises of his appearance and disappearance, it nonetheless felt odd when on Friday we all noticed his obvious absence. The office was not bubbling with his usual lively presence and nobody came to remind us it was time for Jumma’a service as usual, that was when it dawned on us that Alhaji has ‘sneaked away’ as usual. For me, it felt a little odd because being one of his close confidants and considering that we have just returned from Tanzania a couple of days ago where our firm, Image Merchant Promotions Limited (IMPR), bagged an African PR Award, even if he didn’t hint me directly, his moves would have dictated to me that an old habit that never dies is about to rear its head again.
So when on Saturday night, we heard that his father, the illustrious Sheikh Abdulhameed Agaka and an erudite Islamic scholar of Ilorin emirate who is the Chief Imam of Agaka, passed on at the age of 77 after a brief illness at Idera Hospital in Ilorin, I thought that was the why Alhaji’s sudden disappearance on Friday felt strange.
Many thoughts raced through my mind because “Ya Imamu,” as my boss fondly called his father, was a very lively, jovial and magnetic man who was so full of life. Though I never met him one on one, my encounter with him on phone has left an indelible mark that will remain with me till the end of time.
He is so charismatic and full of spirit that you can’t help but have a good time when you’re with him.
My first and only encounter with the late Imam was one fateful evening early last year when I strolled into Alhaji Shuaib’s office to rub minds with him as usual. I met Alhaji Shuaib behind his seat speaking heartily and glowingly to someone else at the other end. As Alhaji beckoned on me to take a seat, I kept hearing him hail, “Ya Imamu” that was when I guessed it could be the much talked about Imam Abdulhamid Agaka, Alhaji’s revered father.
They chatted and threw banters at each other while I held on. Amidst the conversation, Alhaji handed the phone to me after what I thought would have been an introduction of me to his father.
“Speak to Imam,” Alhaji said and I didn’t hesitate with my mindset cast on the thought that I was just meant to greet him and get acquainted with him in few minutes, but what followed was a moment of sacred indulgence money can’t buy.
After we had greeted and joked like buddies catching up on old times, he transitioned into a prayer session. There was virtually nothing I used to pray for that Imam Abdulhamid didn’t mention in that prayer. He went as far as praying for me for things I wanted but I didn’t know I wanted until he mentioned them. I was pleasantly surprised and all I could utter was “Ameen” in between each payer. It was a magnetic, deeply spiritual moment of very powerful devotion that took up to thirty minutes on the phone as Alhaji patiently waited and Alhamdulillah my life so far has been a manifestation of nothing short of all the prayers and well wishes “Ya Imamu” showered on me.
As he transits to glory, I can imagine how it feels for his family, friends and loved ones particularly my boss Alhaji Yushau Shuaib. I usually see the allure, the joy, the spark, the connection and reverence from a son to a father each time Alhaji speaks to or of his father, Sheikh Imam Abdulhameed Agaka.
I recalled when in October 2020 just a day after his birthday, he wrote a tribute on his father.
“Most tributes are written to eulogise the dead and not the living. I often ask the questions: Must our guardians and mentors die before we honour them by commending their outstanding qualities and exemplary lifestyle as enduring lessons? How sure are we that we would not leave before the demise of such beloved ones, as we constantly defer or procrastinate about giving honour and expressing appreciation when due?,” my boss wrote.
He quickly clarified to his readers in the next paragraph that his father, Imam Abdulhameed Shuaib Agaka, was very much alive and continued to play an outstanding role in his life.
“I sincerely can understand the deep sense of loss of those who have lost their parents; some too early in life,” he sympathised and that very line made a day like this cross my mind with apprehension but I found solace in the fact the Alhaji himself is a very strong man of faith.
Imam Abdulhameed was born into the family of Imam Shuaib Said, a renowned Quranic teacher and Islamic leader in Agaka.
The late Chief Imam of Agaka was educated at the School for Arabic Studies, SAS, in Kano before proceeding to Bayero University Kano, where he obtained a Ph.D in Quranic Morphology and Arabic Grammar.
The late erudite scholar was at various times the Head of Arabic Studies Departments at School for Arabic Studies, the Women Arabic Teachers College, Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies and many others.
Great men don’t die. They live forever in the hearts, minds and consciousness of their loved ones and all those who have been fortunate to encounter them. I am one of the lucky ones who encountered the late “Ya Imamu” and I will forever cherish his essential spiritual touch.
Like our editor RR said on the editorial platform, the man indeed “lived an extraordinary life with giant footprints evident in the great men and women he is leaving behind.”
May Allah grant his soul an eternal mercy. Ameen.
Dahiru is head of Investigations and Fact-Checking at PRNigeria