Saeed Hamid Jallo
Fate, or rather Allah,has a way of always bringing hidden issues to the fore. And mostly He does that through the introduction of trials and tests in our lives. It has never occurred to me to write about our sheikh, Abdul-Kareem Yusuf. But circumstances have today made it imperative to do so.
I am doing this because of the dust that has gathered around his name as if it is a rolling stone speeding down a steep slope. Sheikh indeed has become more popular overnight, and is it for a pleasant reason? Certainly not!
The first time I saw Sheikh Abdul Karim was in the mid-nineties. He was such a handsome man (I was just a young man then.) all those who knew sheikh will attest to his ‘beauty. (He is still good-looking, isn’t he?)’ I kept looking at such a man who is so handsome with his thick beard, a soothing voice when he recites and a piercing baritone when he preaches, teaches and lectures.
He was then teaching at my alma mater, Ilmun-Naafi madrasah.
Due to his knowledge and affable character he quickly warmed himself into the hearts of anyone who comes into contact with him. His godfather, Alhaji Yusuf Soldier loved and treated him like his own son. People actually thought he was his biological son, yet they never even shared the same tribe.
Sheikh Abdul-Karim cried bitterly when his friend and brother, the stalwart Sheikh Abdul Aziz Yusuf died in 2012. I remember asking him a question when I hosted him on a show I had on Kyzz 89.7 fm in commemoration of the death of Sheikh Abdul Aziz. “Sheikh, your brother Abdul Aziz is gone, naturally people are looking forward to you taking up the mantle after him. How are you going to handle that task,” I asked.
“Haj Saeed,’ he responded with tears streaming down his cheeks and wetting his beard. “Wallahi, I can never do what Sheikh Abdul Aziz has done. I cannot even think of achieving half of what he has. Abdul Aziz is an energetic, fearless, and determined leader, who am I to step in his shoes?” That was Sheikh Abdul Karim.
That is the depth of his humility and modesty. He never arrogated knowledge to himself. However, he is doing his best in the absence of Sheikh Abdul Aziz.
One thing you can never take away from him is his friendliness and tolerance. Sheikh Abdul Karim will never look down upon any individual no matter the creed, sect, religion or faith of the person. He embraces all and establishes nice relationship with them. And he never misses an opportunity to advise whoever comes into contact.
His position as the Deputy Imam of ASWAJ in the Western Region never affected his relationship with the leadership of other sects. That is why they rose up as a body and supported his cause with du’a, and fundraising. The Tijaniyya leadership of Sekondi rose up as a body, raised some funds and donated it to Sheikh.
I remember when I MCeed a program organized last year by the Zongo chiefs in Sekondi, sheikh Abdul Karim was invited as a speaker. When he arrived, he embraced all the ulamaa before sitting down. After his address, he brought our copies of the Qur’an and books of hadeeth which he distributed to all the imams. This act was highly appreciated by the Malams all of whom were tijaniyya. This is the beautiful relationship that has been existing between the Sheikh and other sects.
My encounters with sheikh can never be measured or quantified. He is my religious advisor and consultant. He also never hesitates to call me when he needs my input in anything. We complement each other in our areas of expertise.
He has been a resource person on all platforms created by Tawheed. Apparently, he has been a priceless contributor on our radio programs, especially on Kyzz and Silver FM. He has featured on many of our television episodes of Voice of Tawheed (VOT) on Hijra and Guidance TV. On our numerous events Sheikh has always brought his oratorical and insightful expertise to bear. In short, he does not hesitate to answer a call whenever he is needed.
I remember going to him with some advice. I told him to cut down on his public engagements due to his deteriorating health. “You need to conserve your strength and energy.” I told him. He accepted my advice as a sound one, but his problem is saying NO to people who invite him to speak or officiate at their events. Simply put, it is difficult for him to turn down a request even to the detriment of his health.
Folks, I will type on-and-on-and-on if I am to bring out all the qualities of this ailing scholar. Honestly, I don’t even have the information to bring even a tenth of those qualities.
One thing is for sure; Sheikh Abdul Karim deserves the love and sympathy accorded him by all people who heard of his health challenges. He really deserves the support given him by people of all walks of life.
He said to me, when I last visited him, “Haj Saeed, do you know why people readily come to our aid whenever we find ourselves in such life challenges?” I responded in the negative. He then said, “’Zuciyanmu farii ne, baabu hasada ko kiyayya’ to wit: It is because our hearts are clean of envy and malice.”
Definitely he must have his minuses, but overall, Sheikh Abdul Karim Yusuf is a wonderful man who is being tried by Allah.
May Allah The Healer grant him absolute shifaaa…..aamiin.