Life and times of Third Mufti of Ilorin. By Zarumi Mashood

Date: 2014-09-06

Shaykh Sofiyyullah was born on the 18th of June, 1928 to the noble family of the late sage, His eminence, Shaykh Muhammad Kamalud-deen Al-Adabiy, the first grand Mufti of the Ilorin Emirate at Ile Araagbaji, Masingba quarters, Omoda, IIorin. His mother, Alhaja Hafsah was the first wife of Shaykh Muhammad Kamalud-deen while  Shaykh Sofiyyulahi was the first son of the family.

Shaykh Sofiyyulahi started his Qur’anic education at a very tender age under the tutelage of his father. He moved temporarily to Babaita family Qur’anic school where he had a brief stay. From Babata family, he returned to his father to complete his Quranic education. He also studied some Arabic and Islamic elementary books such as Miftah al-lughah al-arabiyya, al-Aqidah al Murishidah, Matn al-Akhdary, Matn AI-Ashmawiyyah, al-Qira’ah al-Rasheedah and a few Arabic poems. All these were before his admission into al-Madrasah al-Adabiyyah al kamaliyyah, a school established in Lagos by his father in 1938.

Because of the resolve of his father to give him sound Arabic and Islamic education, he was attached to several Muslim scholars of his time, prominent among whom were Shaykh Ya’qub Ile Alawonla, Shaykh Is’haq Onireke, Shaykh Musa Alfanla, Shaykh Khidr Apaokagi, the second grand Mufti, Shaykh Salman Ake of Omoda area with whom he stayed for a period of three years 1944-1947 and Shaykh Abdulrahman Salah, the former National Missioner of Ansarul Islam Society. During his stay with the latter, he followed him to Abeokuta in 1952 when he went there to assist Shaykh Adam AI-Iloriy in establishing his Markaz. Shaykh Sofiyyullah was among the first set of the school having studied there between January and May 1952.

In 1959, Shaykh Sofiyyullah was among the four students nominated by Al-Adabiyyah Al-Kamaliyyah school to further their education at the College of Shariah in Kano. The other three were Shaykh Shehu Ahmad Warai, Shaykh Ismail Bugede, Justice Mahmood Itakure, who was the secretary to Shaykh Abdul Qadir bin Shuaib Bawa, the 8th Emir of IIorin. When they got to the school, the Egyptian tutor who conducted interview for them was so impressed with their performance that he said: “if government would allow me I would have made the whole class to be only IIorin candidates”.

After graduation from the school, Shaykh Sofiyyullah was appointed as an Area Court Judge and sent to the Cameroon which was then part of Nigeria, but his father did not allow him to practice as a judge.

Shaykh Sofiyyullah traveled widely across Yorubaland propagating Islam and teaching Arabic to the youth and the elderly. He worked briefly as a teacher with Alhaji Ekemode in 1944 then at Ikenne in 1947 when he did his first public lecture at Inabiri Mosque, then at Osbgbo between 1948 and 1952 when he was asked to follow Shaykh Salah to Abeokuta. Between 1954 and 1957, he was at Idofian in Kwara State and at Owo in 1958 before he finally settled in Ilorin where he continued with his Da’wah activities and peace making until his death in 2014.

In addition to students who received training under him at AI-Zumrah AI-Adabiyyah school in Ilorin between 1954-1957, Shaykh Sofiyyullah had the opportunity of passing knowledge to several other Muslim youths from different towns across Yorubaland who were accommodated in his house. Prominent among his students were Alkali Temimu who was the first Mukaddam AI-’Ulama’ of Ilorin and Alhaji Ibrahim Oniye, the first Makama of Ilorin, just to mention but a few.

Over the years, and in the course of learning, teaching and preaching, the late mufty was able to establish friendship with a number of his classmates who later became prominent scholars, preachers and the cream of the society. Among them are Shaykh Mustafa Ajisafe, the grand Imam of Osogbo and president, league of Imams and Alfas of Yoruba land, Shaykh Ahmad Wara, the Chief Imam of Wara and Shaykh Mukhtar Ojulari.

Shaykh Sofiyyullah did his first marriage in 1955. He had four wives and was blessed with many children among whom are a Professor, an Engineer, a Lawyer, Lecturers and others who engage in various professions.

Some of his achievements included establishment of a Juma’at Mosque at Taiwo Road, Ilorin and another one at Eiyenkorin area,Ilorin. He revived the evening preaching of Shaykh Tajul-Adab every Wednesday at Masingba Mosque, Okekere, Ilorin. He took care of some orphans, widows, needy, poor and paid the school fees of many students at different levels.

He was honoured with several awards within and outside Nigeria for his Da’awah activities and peace making.

On the 25th of Ramadan 1432/2013, the Emir of I1orin, His Eminence Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, during his traditional Ramadan visit to the Tafseer of Shaykh Kamalud-deen announced the appointment of Shaykh Sofiyyullah as the 3rd grand Mufti of Ilorin Emirate.

The Mufti passed away on the evening of Monday, 20th of Shawwal 1435, A.H, equivalent to 18th August, 2014.

The late Mufti of Ilorin, before his death, welcomed his ascendants and told members of his family he would be meeting his ancestors in paradise before he died.

While on his death bed “he repeated Alhamdulillahi severally and made provisions for his uncompleted projects to be realized when he started seeing signs that he may join his ancestors”, Chief Imam, Alhaji Isa Elelu Central Mosque, Ilorin, Imam Abubakar Ali Kamaldeen, told our reporter.

Narrating the incidence, Kamaldeen said “he (late Mufti) went to the yearly Qur’anic graduation ceremony (Shahadah) of Zumuratul Adabiyyah-l-Kamaliyah on Saturday and Sunday and admonished the graduands for about 30 minutes after certificates were issued .

“When we came back from the cemetery after he was buried, I went to him (Mufti) and met him chanting Alhamdulillahi around 1pm on Monday. We started praying together with him with his son.

“Then he started saying Oh Paradise is beautiful and mention those he saw including Sheikh AbdulKadir, Muhammed kamaldeen (his father and first Mufti of Ilorin), Sheikh Taju-l-Adabiy, welcoming them and telling them he is coming to meet them by 4:pm. This was what he said because I was there together with Muhammed Jamiu Olayinka, one of his sons. He would get up, walk around and sit down intermittently with the word of praise”, he added.

On his unfulfilled wish, the Islamic cleric said the late Mufti, among others things, wanted the certification of the Kamaldeen University realised and had two mosques he was building that he really wanted to complete.

Collaborating his position, another family source and brother to the late Islamic scholar, Abdullateef Muhammed Kamaldeen described his death as a destiny.

“I was with him yesterday when he was saying Alhamdulillahi and welcoming his father, Sheikh AbdulQadir and Sheikh Tajudeen, telling us that he had seen his Paradise that we should allow him to go”.

“We told him we have prepared vehicle to take him to Lagos but he queried if we want to take him away from this paradise that he cannot leave this place. He even told us that he prayed Al-Subuh (the sunrise prayer) with those in Haram and has seen his paradise saying “allow me to go, allow me to go”.

Abdullateef told our reporter that the late cleric who went to collect his voter’s card on Saturday,   recited Alhamdulillahi to Maliki Yaomi deeen (1st-3rd verse of the first verse of the Qur’an) and then gave up the ghost”.

He added that he was taken to the hospital around 1:00pm where the doctors examined him and declared hum fit that we should be managing him. But since we have heard what he had said, we were already aware that he was preparing to leave.

“He finally gave up the ghost around 5:49pm”, he added.

On whether he had premonition of his death, the Khadi of Sharia Court of Appeal, Ilorin said, “Yes, because prior his death, he called one of his son around 11:pm on Sunday and handed over all the keys in his possession to him and informed him about money in some banks that should be used to complete his mosque projects at Eyenkorin and Taiwo roads in Ilorin and nobody should share it.

“Even the little money he had in his pocket, he gave it to the son (Habeeb Tonile)”

He is survived by four wives and about 15 children.

Commenting on Mufti’s death, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of the state who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Isiaka Gold described the deceased as a God fearing Islamic scholar who had lived a fulfilled life.

He urged Muslims to remember the last day and emulate exemplary life style which the deceased had left behind.

The National President of Ilorin Emirate Descendenant Progressive Union (IEPDU), Alhaji Abdulhameed Hadi said  the deceased had been very supportive to Ilorin and activities of IEPDU, noting that Ilorin Emirate will greatly miss the 3rd Mufti of Ilorin for his wisdom and wealth of Islamic knowledge.

Also speaking, the pioneer Grand Khadi of Kwara State, Justice Abdulkadir Orire described him as a respected Islamic scholar who inherited respectability from his late father.

Orire also described him as a humble  dedicated and committed Islamic scholar as well as symbol of peace and humility, adding that he had never been found wanting in his life time.

The Grand Khadi of the state, Justice Solihu Olohuntoyin Muhammad described as a wonderful scholar per excellence whom Allah blessed with long life.

He said for him to have been sick for less than an hour before his death, is uncommon and shows that he was a man of God.

The Grand Khadi said the deceased had sustained the virtues of humility, respect, hardwork and discipline which made his late father, Sheikh Muhammad Kamaldeen Al-Adaby acceptable and respected by all.

Justice Muhammad urged his immediate family and Adabiyah family to sustain the virtues of God fearing, humility, respect, hardwork and discipline which the 3rd Mufti inherited and sustained from his father.

The Chief Imam of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammed Solihu Basir described the 3rd Mufti of Ilorin, as a great Islamic Scholar of high repute who had contributed immensely to the growth and development of Islam and the society as a whole.

The Chief Imam who extolled the virtues of late Mufti described him as humble, generous, devoted and God fearing religious leader who inherited the nobility from his late Father, the first Mufti of Ilorin, Sheikh Kamalud-deen Al-Adabby.

Imam Bashir described the death of the 3rd Mufti of Ilorin as a great loss to the Emirate, Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole, saying that his positive contributions to the society would continue to be remembered by all.

Also the Chief Imam of the University of Ilorin Central Mosque, Professor Abdulganiyu Oladosu extolled the virtues of late Mufti, describing him as a man of God who had served God diligently.

In their separate condolence messages at the occasion, Lawyer Alarape Salman and former Grand Khadi of Kwara State, Justice Idris Abdullahi Haroon described the 3rd Mufti of Ilorin as a man of all parts and prayed God to grant him eternal rest.

The Fidau was attended by the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, Senator Bukola Saraki, Professor Oba Abdulraheem, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, Lawyer Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN), the Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University Professor Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, Alhaji Jani Ibraheem among other dignitaries  from  across the country and beyond. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

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