I knew Sheikh AbdulGaniy Aboto in 1993. That was the first time I accompanied Kwara State contingent to that year’s National Qur’ānic Recitation Competition in Katsina, Katsina State. Since then I became very close to him to the extent that many used to think I was his first son. He loved me so much, as he loved my Dad.
Despite how busy I was with the pursuit of my legal career, Alfa Aboto was always wanting to hear from me. I guess this was due to the old bond. We used to be very close. My grandmother that died in 2005 used to say “Alfa re nko” (how is your Alfa). By next year, it will be 30 years since I knew him. Anytime we met occasionally at some events, he used to greet me specially, to the extent that many around him would be asking who I am.
Anywhere he saw me, he used to hold my hand and would never leave me easily out of love. His house then at Taiwo, behind Stadium Complex was a second home for me. I used to go there in the morning and leave in the night. His wife, Alhaja Khadeejah (Mummy AbdulHafeezh), took me like a son and I still give her that regard till today. Recently, I boarded the same vehicle from Osogbo to Ilorin with one of his sons, Muhammad Jamiu. I related to him what is father meant to us and he was very happy.
Sheikh AbdulGhaniy Aboto رحمه الله was highly gifted with many qualities, yet he was still humble to the core. No one can describe him with arrogance. Particularly, I can’t forget the day I accompanied him to my Dad at our family house then regarding an incident that occurred during the Musabaqah hosted by Kwara State in the year 2000. By Allāh, not to many scholars can do what he did that night.
Sheikh Aboto was an historian, and he used to watch his tongue in his lectures even though he get misunderstood sometimes. No one is perfect, he tried his best to preach the pure Islām to the best of his ability as he inherited it from Alhaji Agba. He was in the forefront of warning against shirk among the Muslims and would never attack the Sunnah or its adherents.
Although my grandfather used to tell me of the “Maadasi” (memorizer of the Qur’ān) around my family house at Popo Igbonna, Ilorin, Kwara State in the olden days; solid investigation reveals no one preceded Sheikh Aboto in the memorization of the full Qur’ān with tajweed practically and theoretically in Ilorin Emirate. This was why the Rabitatu Hamalati Qur’ān in Kwara State honoured him with the title “Awwalul Hāfizheen” few years ago.
I used to follow Sheikh Aboto to “Ile Singini” behind Zumratul Adabiyyah Al-Kamāliyyah Okerere around 1993 to 1995 where he used to preach to students there. Later, he started his Taiwo Lecture gathering. He was the one who started Tarāweeh prayers with full Qur’ān in Ramadan in the whole of Ilorin in the mid nineties making use of our teachers – the likes of Sheikh Sa’eed Ahmad Katibi; Sheikh Mas’ūd Akorede (may Allāh have mercy on him); Sheikh Ahmad Akorede; Sheikh Isa Solahudeen; Sheikh Murtadha Yahya Sufyan; Sheikh Rasheed Al-wara’i and so on.
Sheikh Aboto was known for boldness in speaking the truth and there was no where he couldn’t travel to for the purpose of da’wah. He earned the most prestigious rank before Sheikh Muhammad Kamaldeen Al-Adabi رحمه الله with his gift of memorizing the Qur’ān and his mastery of its recitation with tajweed.
Baba used to praise him a lot. Only Allāh knows how many students he trained and inspired along this line. He didn’t attend any school as far as I knew. But his efforts in learning and speaking English was well known to anyone who was close to him.
I will never forget his generosity towards us at Qur’ān competitions year in year out. He was also a competitor for years. Apart from what the State Committee used to give the participants, Sheikh Aboto used to give us money separately without any discrimination.
The last time we met was during his lecture at Agbo-Oba when Sheikh Katibi was awarded his doctorate degree. During that lecture, he took us down the memory lane narrating how they started till people like us joined them in 1993. I feel so happy to be associated with people of Qur’ān. I have never regretted knowing Alfa Aboto. I learnt so much from him. Even when we kept distance due to some reasons, I still remember him from time to time. He used to call to check me once in a while despite his busy schedules. This was how he used to do to all of us, I learnt from others too.
Last weekend, when Bar. Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem came to Ilorin, he tried to call him so that we could visit him in his house, but we couldn’t reach him. We never knew we would never get to see again. Subhanallah!
I am bereaved. We are bereaved. May Allāh forgive and have mercy on him and other brothers who died in the accident. May Allāh grant his family, the Rabitah and the entire Adabiyyah community fortitude to bear this great loss.