By Abdulrahman Yunusa
Like anyone in this sinful world, one must get in touch with one unforgettable phenomenon in his life, and such experience will hunt them throughout their lives. So, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi might not be an exception because even prophets, who are the best people, get tested with many tragedies. As one Hadith entails, “Ashaddul Balaa al Anbia, thummal Amsal fal amsal”.
Gumi was a man with an impeccable personality and exceptional habits. He is the only Sunni cleric with almost all Awliya qualities: his kindness to his family and students was phenomenal. His worldly abstinence “Zuhud” is second to none, and his vision as a scholar was solid.
Perhaps of all the men of class and honour and men of power and money that late Sheikh Gumi lived and mingled with during his life, he had no open enemy. As I’m speaking to you, Gumi was the most respected cleric in the history of Nigeria, for he was blessed with many natural gifts.
He lived a well amusing as well as exciting life. His reputation cut across boundaries. None among politicians and merchants ever pointed him with an accusing finger, yet almost every responsible man befriended him. Not only politicians but even scholars did that full of humility.
Based on the intriguing accounts I have read so far in Ismaila A. Tsiga’s work, Where I Stand, even the father of the notable Islamic scholar, Isyaka Rabi’u, once eulogised Gumi and showered him with excellent remarks. Moreover, as a learned person, Sheikh Rabi’u didn’t hesitate to honour the scholarly correction issued to him by Gumi.
The same happened in his student-teacher relationship with Sheikh Malam Nasir Kabara, who taught him some books in his house. Later on, Gumi entertained his case while serving as Northern Nigerian Grand Khadi. Also, Malam Nasir kept Gumi in high regard till the day death took them apart.
However, throughout Gumi’s life journey, since the early 1920s, nobody had ever deemed it fit to belittle his personality or maltreat him as a person until when he met dictator General Muhammadu Buhari, who became his waterloo and a sign of divine test. You know, none among sincere men of God has ever lived a trial-free, tragedy-free life. So, his collision with Buhari at that moment was a blessing to him.
Although, one shouldn’t forget that Gumi had enjoyed the companionship of many past Nigerian presidents. He embarked on his advisory journey on national and religious matters before Nigerian independence.
As such, he had good contact with Sardauna. Most of his enthralling life voyage begins with Sardauna, then followed by General Yakubu Gowon. Gen. Gowon’ Christianity did not hinder him from seeing Gumi with the respectful lens as his predecessors. The same way he went with Gen. Murtala, Gen. Obasanjo and Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Nonetheless, Buhari deliberately disgraced him for not kowtowing to accept all his hogwash and twaddle policies to deal with some men.
Therefore, as Buhari failed to honour his intellectual sagacity at that moment, he went further by ditching his head by incarcerating him, holding his salary as a source of living. He even went out of focus helter-skelter to cease his visa. What a sad moment for a kind soul like Gumi’s. When did advising and cautioning leaders become an offence?
No, only those with knowledge and honour easily identify men of their calibre and confer them the burden of respect and altruism they deserve. Unfortunately, the man Gumi met around that particular junta was quite ignorant of knowledge and honour.
Lastly, Gumi endured all the persecutions and enjoyed them good fate until he bid a farewell to this wicked world. However, that never stopped him from achieving his life goals, of which receiving the King Faisal Award topped most of his achievements.
Surely history will forever remember this Buhari as rude and unfair to the most celebrated Sunni scholar in Nigeria. May Allah keep the soul of Malam Gumi in Jannah, amin.
Abdulrahman Yunusa is a political and public affairs analyst. He writes from Bauchi and can be reached through email@example.com.