By Dr. AbdulHameed Badmas Yusuf
Perhaps due to my close relationship with him, the sudden death of Professor Hashir continues to disturb my mind. I am very sure that this condition is not peculiar to me; a large number of his former and current students are also perplexed over his death. Though Prof. Hashir’s biological children are countable, his academic children are uncountable. He had ‘fathered’ them academically due to his kind gestures towards them as though he were their father. Not only was he kind towards his students, he was also good to his colleagues and all university staff equally.
While reflecting on what made people feel sad over his death, I have observed three qualities.
First, he was an icon of good character. Examples are in abundance to buttress this point. In my first tribute to him, I mentioned how I wrongly thought that his good gestures towards me were because he was a bosom friend of my father. But I was later proved wrong when I discovered that the goodness in him was part of his life. He could not do or live without being good. In fact, his goodness was blind as male and female, young and old, Muslims and Christians, far and near, all benefited from his good gestures. He was ready to even solve other people’s problems, though he might also have some problems to attend to personally.
Second, Professor Hashir was a peace ambassador. This was not unconnected with his surname, AbdulSalam, which means the servant of the Lord of Peace. To a large extent, this name had impacted on him. He was always for peace. He talked peace, walked peace, and worked for peace. It was almost impossible to see Prof. Hashir in a scuffle or even in a serious disagreement with a fellow human being, male or female, young or old, rude or respectful. He was a gentleman to the core. Few days ago, in a prayer gathering organised by the Ansarul-Islam association, Associate Professor Shuaib Olegele Al-Souyuti narrated a story about his peaceful nature. He said that he once met the late Prof. with a woman by the road side. The woman had accused him of snubbing her each time she greeted him, despite the fact that they were formerly members of an Islamic organisation. He said that the late Prof. called him to respond to the accusation. Of course, he said that he told the woman that she had accused a wrong person because Prof. Hashir was never like that. After convincing the woman, he said that our peaceful Prof. Hashir still apologized to the woman just to allow PEACE to reign. This peaceful attitude by Prof. Hashir would be very difficult for many people to exhibit. After all, he was sure that he was not the person the woman thought he was. He could have shunned the woman since she was obviously adamant to believe him. Yet, he decided to apologize for the sake of peace.
Third, Professor Hashir was an advocate of unity. He was never tribalistic or discriminatory in his relationship with fellow scholars. I understand that this point I’m about to analyse is very sensitive, but it is necessary so that we can borrow a leaf from him. Scholars in this part of the world have studied in different schools and institutions established by notable scholars in the Yorubaland. For instance, many studied in the Adabiyyah school established by the late first Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Kamaldeen al-Adaby, in the Markaz established by the late sage, Adam Abdullah al-Ilory, and in the Mokondoro school established by Shaykh Yusuf Agbaji. Very often, students of these sincere scholars of blessed memory tend to be discriminatory as they would not respect scholars other than those who taught them, neither would they relate well with those who studied elsewhere other than their colleagues. This attitude has led to unnecessary rivalry between scholars, especially here in Ilorin. But our late Prof. Hashir was not like that. Though he studied at al-Ma’had al-Adaby, under the tutelage of Shaykh Kamaldeen, he was a friend to many scholars in the Markazi and Monkondoro circles. He was an intimate friend of Prof. Badmas Yusuf who is a prominent Markazi alumni. Their friendship spanned over four decades. Not only did he establish good relationship with him and people like him, he also facilitated unity between Adabiyyah and Markaziyyah alumni. I believe that the good relation that exists between Prof. Oladosu, his very prominent associate, and Prof. Badmas Yusuf was made possible by his sincere intermediation. As far as I know, Prof. Oladosu would attend any occasion organised by Prof. Badmas, and vice versa. This reciprocal gesture could not have been made possible without the sincere efforts of Prof. Hashir.
Furthermore, the late Prof. Hashir’s indiscriminatory posture was informed by his belief that all scholars deserve respect. To him, one must respect other scholars as much as he respects his direct teacher. For all sincere scholars belong to the same family. It was no surprise then that in his long essay, our late Prof. wrote on Shaykh Khidr Apaokagi, the late second Mufti of Ilorin, who had influence on his educational career. The Shaykh in question was a prominent Adabiyyah alumni. Subsequently, in his MA dissertation, Prof. Hashir wrote on Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory, who was the founder of Markaz! This is a sheer attempt at unifying seemingly opposing schools of thought in Yorubaland!
These three qualities are what defined our late Prof. As such, he was very much loved by all without exception because he was a gentle man to a fault. He was an ambassador of peace. And he was an advocate of unity. This explains why his death disturbed all and sundry. He is gone, but his good deeds and memories will remain with us perpetually. While we’re mourning him, we should imbibe his defining qualities which made him outstanding among his peers. Let us be of good character, ambassadors of peace and advocates of unity. May Allah forgive our dear Prof. Hashir AbdulSalam, and stand by his family and friends. Ameen!
*Yusuf is a Senior Lecturer, Dept. Of Religion, University of Ilorin.