By Adan Makina
Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned Qur’an, Al-Ankabut (The Spider), Verse 57–Sahih International
There is no doubt that “Every soul shall have a taste of death.” Every day, we see and hear people dying by the hour, yet, few, out of the 8bn global population comprehend where the dead are headed for. Religious argumentative eschatology aside, let me pick up the aims and objectives of this painful essay that is a eulogy for someone who has been very important to me and to uncountable number of Somalis and non-Somalis as well. It’s indeed very difficult to gather the strength to sit down and write a tribute for a dear friend and a brother. Nevertheless, immediately after the departure of my Brother-In-Islam, Hassan Abukar back in January 5, 2021, I took to the keyboard of my desktop computer with the intention of eulogizing him and sending condolences to his near relatives and friends alike. However, I experienced technical difficulties that couldn’t allow me to continue writing what would have seeped from my mind in honor of the most prolific Somali writer that I ever came across from the very first day we became brothers.
While it is common to panegyrize living people, for many, showering praises on the dead has been a common feature since time immemorial. However, for www.wardheernews.com, Hassan Abukar and another colleague, were accorded the respect they deserved on January 3, 2017, with the main topic being WDN persons of the year: Hassan Abukar and Faisal Roble. The passing away of Hassan Abukar on January 5, 2021, almost corresponds to four-years ago of his recognition by WDN on January 3, 2017 for his hard work and determination and his literary reputations that were mainly focused on educating humanity.
Even though his departure gave me religious consciousness such as constant supplications to Allah Almighty to ease for him the questioning in the grave by the two angels (Munkar and Nakir; The Denied and The Denier) and also expand for him the grave, and open a soothing window from paradise, his sudden departure gave me the courage to preach my family and friends, and near and far away neighbors to have a sense of the meaning of death and grasp its unknown timings, for, without an iota of doubt, death is concealed from human faculty of understanding. Even the best soul-searching scientists who are generally known as Soul Psychologists, Anatomists, Neurologists, and Morticians, Thanatologists (from Thanatology which is the study of death), and even Pathologists, despite scavenging through the human mind, heart, and brain are unable to diffuse the true character, nature, specimen, location, and meaning of the soul. “It is Allah who takes away the Souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which he ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for people who think deeply” (39: 42)
Hassan was a generous man, kind hearted, respectful, a prolific writer, and the author of Mogadishu Memoir that I reviewed August 3, 2015 that you can read from the following hyperlink: https://wardheernews.com/mogadishu-memoir-a-book-review-2/. When Hassan was busy with his book, I would remind him to keep on cracking the keyboard until he accomplished his mission of attaining the rank of authorship and to my amazement, he mailed me a copy of his book that resembled a fresh, flavorful mofa that was right from the oven. May Allah admit him to Jannatul Firdows (Aamiin), it was through Hassan that I learned many good friends. From Hassan I learned a lot about Somalia and Somalis.
Born in Afgooye (formerly known as Geledi before changing name), an agriculturally productive settlement that is 30 kilometers from Mogadishu, Hassan hailed from a well-established family. It is a coincidence that Hassan belonged to the Geledi clan–a clan that became a force to reckon with after the collapse of Ajuran Sultanate (14th-17th century). Historically, The Geledi Sultanates lasted for over 150 years. Even though Hassan was a writer whose topics were multifarious and touched on various subjects ranging from politics, Diaspora lives, social issues, religious sentiments, and intellectual discussions, his essays were at times rebutted by WDN contributors who felt he was too critical or out of context simply because his language did not rhyme well with their views and ideas. For example, in my review of his book, Mogadishu Memoir, you will find a short statement that is no different from a disagreement where I touched on the regional exposures of the veil or Hijab worn mostly by Muslim women.
The man who wrote most of his essays in English from the United States especially from the City of Phoenix in Arizona, even though at times he communicated with me from San Diego in California, was well versed in the Arabic language. Despite being multilingual and fluent in the Somali language, Hassan hardly wrote essays in Somali. Unlike a few Somali intellectuals who previously wrote profusely in English and then changed their writing techniques into Somali after I advised them to change course and breathe new life into the almost endangered Somali language, I have never at any time encouraged Hassan to jump on the bandwagon because I did not want him to go beyond the normal limit. Since his topics and focuses befitted the English language, there was no need to dissuade him from his contemplations that benefitted many speaking Somali Diaspora and struggling students within Somalia.
Formerly an editorial board member for WDN and later a contributor, the number of essays he wrote for WDN are uncountable and there is no doubt that if collected for publication purposes, they could produce numerous books that will benefit current and future generations. To be brutally honest, unlike the many essays, proposals, and research papers that are written by people holding multiple degrees including English literature and even some written by people brandishing PhDs that are full of grammatical errors, Hassan’s essays were always untouched. Going by the saying, “English was born in England, raised in America, and died in Africa”, the type of English that was exclusive to Hassan will take years to get a replacement.
Hassan Abukar, our celebrated essayist lost the mother of his four children on January 28, 2019 in Dubai. She was Dr. Sheryl “Sharifa” Steinberg Abukar. May Allah admit Hassan Abukar and Sharifa Abukar to Jannatul Firdows, Aamiin. While the element of language that best sheath a society’s principles and beliefs is its proverbs, I would say that even though “birds of a feather flock together”, in a nutshell, “all good things must come to an end.” With Hassan gone, the best we can do is to pray to Allah together and say…And there are men who say: “Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!”.” While that dua is from Surah Al-Baqarah verse 201 and that in total they are 6 in Al-Baqarah, let me remind you that there are 40 others that begin with Rabana. In conclusion, Raise up your hands and please pray for our departed brother Hassan Abukar.
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