By AbdulMujeeb Onawole, Nigeria
It was a Friday in August, specifically the first day of the month in 2008. We had just concluded a PHY 202 test. The course title is modern physics and the test had not gone too well.
Idris, my friend and classmate, was the welfare officer of MSSN, LAUTECH branch. He is a friend one needs and no doubt his company has helped me tremendously in being a better Muslim. He is someone who reminds me of this Hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud narrated by Anas bin Malik (rta) in which the Prophet (sa) said: “A good companion is like a man who has musk; if nothing of it goes to you, its fragrance will (certainly) go to you. (In comparison,) a bad companion is like a man who has bellows; if its (black) root does not go to you, its smoke will (certainly) go to you.’ I cannot emphasize how important it is to keep good company, to be with those who encourage you in the Deen.
We both did not feel good after the test and to worsen our situation, there was another problem on the ground. There was a sick student who had been admitted to the Baptist medical centre and the bill for treatment was extremely high.
Idris and I discussed people’s attitude towards striving in Allah’s cause in terms of wealth, time and energy. It seemed that most people did not want to sacrifice at all. I wondered how money could be our problem when we had one, united Muslim body on campus. I asked myself, “Where are the Muslims?”
Idris and I both thought the day was bad enough; little did we know that the days ahead were going to be some of the most terrifying times of our lives.
It was time for Friday prayer and I was at the mosque before the Khateeb (person who delivers sermon) got on the minbar (place where the Khateeb stays while delivering sermon). There I saw my namesake, AbdulMujeeb. He was also in his second year and had just been appointed as the Financial Secretary. We talked about the sick Muslim at the Baptist medical centre and how to raise funds. I wish I had hugged him and told him how much I loved him for Allah’s sake because that was to be my last moment with AbdulMujeeb AbdulRazaq. He died later that evening in a motor accident on the way to an MSSN programme.
I first met AbdulMujeeb at Nurudeen Grammar School during the MSSN tutorials in my first year. We were both Jambites (candidates who are seeking admission through the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board – JAMB). At the university, he was in the department of Computer Science and Engineering.
I had never met anyone like AbdulMujeeb before, and he became a close friend to me, a brother. We had some things in common which included both of us wanting to study medicine. I remember early that semester discussing GNS 202, a course on logic and its effect on Aqeedah (creed). Our hostels were not that far from each other. He was a good student and he helped me study for CSE 201, a course on programming language.
AbdulMujeeb was gentle and easygoing. He knew how to correct people’s mistakes without hurting their feelings. One day, he came to see me in my room and he saw some pictures hanging on the wall. He asked me if I was the one who had hung the pictures there. I replied in the affirmative. He did not say anything more. I already knew it was wrong to put up pictures of people or animals. Before then, I had not had the courage to completely remove the pictures. I only did so when I had to pray in my room. When AbdulMujeeb left my room that day, however, I felt guilty. Subsequently I found the courage to remove the pictures, tear them up and dispose of them completely. Now I have a frame hanging in my room with a short but powerful poem on Islam, peace and terrorism.
I did not find out about AbdulMujeeb’s death until Saturday, the next day. It was heart wrenching. Tears filled my eyes; I had lost relations in the past, but AbdulMujeeb’s death was different. I called my father that day and told him about it. I also said to him something I had never said to him before. I told him I loved him. We are not the best of friends but we do get along well. I did not want to have any regrets about not telling those who were important to me words I should have said.
The days that followed made Idris very busy since he was the welfare officer. He did not sleep for two days. There were other students who were involved in that motor accident, mostly the newly appointed executives of the MSSN. I remember seeing AbdulMujeeb Solahudeen, the former Ameer, on the Monday that followed. We hugged, and it was a different kind of hug than normal. It was not the one of seeing an old-time friend. It was one that signified we had lost a brother. We had lost one of us. The world now had one less AbdulMujeeb.
Three years have passed since then, and in a few months, I will be graduating from this great citadel of learning. AbdulMujeeb is not here with me, but his death is still fresh in my memory and remains a significant part of my life. AbdulMujeeb had been assigned to serve in the Ramadan Committee so the MSSN executive who had put together the committee thought I was the one. When he realized the error, he implored me to remain and serve on the committee. I am glad I did not decline. The death of my friend made me realize that I did not have to postpone doing good deeds or becoming a better Muslim. I too could die at any moment.
It made me take this Hadeeth in at-Tirmidhi that was narrated by Amr bin Maymun al-Awdi more seriously. That he said: Allah’s Messenger (sa) said to a man in the course of an exhortation, “Grasp five things before five others: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your leisure before your work, and your life before your death.”
It can be quite difficult to practice Islam the way it ought to be, especially as a youth today, but procrastination can lead to destruction. I have had my own fair share of challenges in trying to become a better Muslim; some of these include being forgotten by friends, mocked, and made to feel lonely like no one in the whole world understood me. But I have also made new and better friends. I pray Allah forgives and has mercy on AbdulMujeeb Abdulrazaq and I hope he died as a martyr for his death was my rebirth.
This story was one of the entries in A Life-Changing Experience, a short story writing competition organized by Hiba Magazine