Remembering Mudaththir Olaniyi Yusuf (1962-2019)
Brother Abdur-Razaq, where are you? The anxious and inaudible phone call from Nurudeen Jumah jolted me. “I’m in the office,” I replied. “NS is gone!” He announced. “I can’t hear you,” was my response, wondering why this hasty news. He repeated forcefully, “NS is gone, NS is gone.” And my voice collapsed! Subhannallah, Yeeeeee! Not true! Allaahu Akbar. Oh my God! Inna lillahi wa innan ilayhi raaji’uun.
I put my head on the table and was crying but soon realised I could embarrass my colleagues, hence, I retired to a small meeting room nearby to continue crying and muttering Subhannallah. I managed to avoid wailing, knowing the implications. Haa, my brother, Niyi Sanuth is indeed dead!
Allah knows best. The news of his passage is really touching and devastating! How I wish the news was not real. I knew him since our Movement for Islamic and Cultural Awareness (MICA) days, and have been friends ever since. He’s unassuming, sincere, compassionate and straightforward. No-holds-barred, yet diplomatic!
I went to him at Zenith bank around 1997, looking for a job. He admonished me against bank jobs and told me he was resigning soon! I couldn’t believe a rising star in one of the top banks could resign while approaching the zenith of a shining, unblemished career. He urged me to join Deen Communications then, moreso that I read Mass Communication I offered to be part of the Editorial Team, which I did for some time. And behold, he resigned soon as promised. And we remained in touch till his passage early November 2019.
He has been a resource person for H&H Inv. Club, and severally for Tanzeel Schools. And of recent, we partnered for Commodities business. Wherever he goes, he’s extremely humble, but always noticeable and impactful. He’s the proverbial golden fish with no hiding place.
The popular Feed a Soul that now feeds thousands of poor Muslims in Ramadan was his brainchild. And I wonder where he derives his energy from. He’s such a special breed! Even until he breathed his last, he was still mustering positive energy!
What of KBC- Knowledge Building Course, which has transformed millions of lives of young Muslims? Many of us benefitted quarterly from the fountain of knowledge of renowned scholars in those sessions.
He is the publisher of Deen Digest, which transformed into an Naseeha, and also Legacy, targeted at the teens but nonetheless very useful for the older ones.
On his sick bed in India, I sent him a couple of messages which I presumed he read but he didn’t respond. I was scared and expressed it in my post on October 30. And he responded: “Wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu
Oju ogun le oo, but aanu Oluwa ati adura yin ngbe wa duro*
The message sent jitters down my spine. For him to acknowledge tough terrains means it was really tough, to put it mildly. He’s a truly courageous brother.
I expressed joy and sent more messages. He responded on the 31st October. I was further encouraged and sent more. And then, he read but never replied again.
And that’s why I was inconsolable when bro. Nurudeen Jumah broke the tough news. It was an Indian that noticed me in my crying room and was trying to be nice. “Should someone drive you home?”, he asked. I controlled my anger and told him that my brother died in his country, India!
When I had issues in a marriage and rumours were flying around, he was the only brother, apart from my Imam, who confronted me, and appreciated the situation. He’s that bold, yet diplomatic. Most others were just grimacing whenever I passed them.
His death has made it rife for us all to reflect, to reassess ourselves. It was encomiums everywhere for him. If it’s any of us, how will we be reviewed? Can we pick one or two lessons from his death?
Has his death not confirmed the ephemerality and mirage nature of life? If yes, why are we keeping puerile bickers? Why are we enemies and strange bedfellows because of a passing stranger? The positive comments that followed his death are unprecedented. I hope his death will make many of us re-organise our perceptions. Sanuth (as I call him) has touched more lives than any brother that I know. He is ever willing to help, to please and to admonish. Yet he’s gone! I pray that his legacies will endure. That Allah would raise another bridge builder. That Allah would console and compensate all those he left behind, especially his immediate family, and keep them united, aamin.
And for him, all positive testimonies trailing him are pointers to his abode. May Allah expand his grave, make Barzakh comforting for him, make answers to his questions easy. And on the day of Qiyamah, make him an inmate of al Jannatul Firdaus, aamin.
Allahumma ghafrlahu wa arhamhu, Aameen.
• Asaju is a proud associate and admirer of Niyi Sanuth
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