Letters are not just another means of communication. They have the added advantage of informing and educating not just the person they are addressed to, but whosoever have the opportunity of reading them. Over time, a number of letters have attained prominence simply because of the wisdom they contain. The one that readily comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher.
But historically, Muslims used letters as a means of da’awah. It is on record that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) wrote so many letters inviting people to Islam; among which are those to Negus, Heracles Caeser, Muqawqis and Musailama Kazzab (the liar).
Similarly, Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah’s letters to Sarjawaz (King of Cyprus), his companions, his students, and his mother have been documented. The letter of Imam Ghazzali to his disciple titled Ayyuha’l Walad is unforgettable. Other Ghazzali’s letters are those to Mujir-ud-Deen and Nizamuddin Farkhul Mulk.
Therefore, the following are selected letters written by Muhammad Sa’idu Jimada to some members of his family. As stated earlier, they are aimed at enlightening the Muslims in general; not only those they are addressed to.
A FATHER’S KHUTBAH TO A DAUGHTER
This is a collection of letters written to Fatima Ummi and Fatima Bintu before their marriage. It addresses several issues pertaining to marriage such as who to marry, courtship, age of marriage and what the author calls underwears of marriage, garments of marriage and perfume of marriage. Excerpts:
“Do not be misled by the desirability to know and understand the partner. The temptation or inclination is to slip to self-deceit. To be sure, no deserving partner will require more than a liberal three weeks to be determined. This is because, the things that can be established are few, objective and do not matter for more than five percent for marriage life. This include the appearance, the sound of voice, the walking style, the names(s), the address, the legal parents, the occupation, his world-outlook by prompting solutions to historical problems, the family background, the qualifications, the trainings, achievements, failures, economic capacity, prospect, the relations and health status. This is the basis for always involving elders to at least advise. It actually translates to the fact that the individual is often not in absolute condition of total evaluation of the partner.”
Download A Father’s Khutbah (pdf, 188 KB)
Originally written to Amina, this letter is a must-read for all women. It encapsulates the ethics of marital life. We will not hesitate to recommend it as a gift for brides. Excerpts:
“A married woman who believes in Allah and His Messenger accepts that the husband could have been married or could marry again unless they are already four … The worst wife is the one who will deliberately commit a wrong against the husband’s order and then wants to ask for forgiveness again and again … The wife who is ungrateful for what her husband is able to provide her is faithless. Her use of the thing does not give her any reward. Rather, it attracts the anger of Allah … The wife who will know the capacity of the husband and will know the danger in which her husband is getting in and still wants to push him further is a devil … The worst woman will be the one who will travel out of the station in which the husband has left her. And Allah and His Messenger knows best the fate of the wife who sleeps outside her station even if it is with her parents or relations.”
Download Nna’mina Teach (pdf, 331 KB)
WHY WE MUST…
This letter stands out because it is poetic rather than prose. It attempts to answer the question: Who is Allah? Essentially, it is a reminder of the Blessings and Mercy of Allah. But the reader needs to have some knowledge of Islamic history to fully appreciate it. It was originally written to Halima. Excerpts:
“He is Allah.
He is describable only as He permits.
Words and understanding don’t grasp Him.
The sun is a sign.
It can prepare crops for harvest.
It can make life unbearable.
The ignorance of Angels saved them.
The knowledge of Satan ruined him.
Every day is a step to death.
Every step to death is maturity.
An arm’s length of death can be a way to Hell.
An arm’s length of death can be a way to Paradise.
The Qur’an attracted Meccans to plot the killing of Rasul.
The Qur’an was read to escape the plot.
Ibrahim deserved the fire for not recanting Unity.
Ibrahim rose to honour for not even asking to be saved from Al-Khabir.”
Download Why We Must… (pdf, 205 KB)
LETTER TO GHAZZALI MUHAMMAD
When Ghazzali Muhammad secured admission into Al-Hikmah University Ilorin to read Political Science and Conflict Resolution, Jimada deemed it fit to enlighten him regarding the challenges he might encounter which may conflict with the teachings of Islam as he (Jimada) himself is a Political Scientist. Excerpt:
“In the school, you may be exposed to differences in facets. They may delineate it as political, social, economic, technological or whatever. A fairly developed one is by Karl Marx. He suggested that workers who create wealth are different from the bourgeoisie and that the resolution is in the determined dialectical struggle aimed at recovering the creations or surpluses that actually belong to the workers, from the thieves who pay them less on the flimsy basis of ownership of land and capital. Thus, the roots of differing are many. The primary source of all these is defined by the Qur’an as what men covet. Examples summarily given include “women, sons, heaped-up hoards of gold and silver, horses branded (for blood and excellence); (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land”. And Allah connects the relationship with men as Trial of believers with what they love most. Differences or conflicts are therefore of various forms, types, and levels and in different circumstances and are historical.”
Download Letter to Ghazzali (pdf, 139 KB)
This is a collection of letters to Khadija. Like Why We Must, they are poetic; though some are a combination of poem and prose. All the letters revolve around giving thanks to Allah for His favours and always relying on Him. Excerpt:
Thanks be to Allah
who has made the rules
Of sharing, with one another,
By each and every, both and all,
For a lasting comfort and pleasure
No man has been created,
With two hearts in one chest;
Association of anything with the
Unity of Allah
Is Apostasy which is punishable
We cannot believe in Allah
Until we model with love after
His messenger above our parents;
We shall obey our parents, teachers
And leaders only as long and as far
As they thread the path of Allah.
Thus, Mama has three places.
Thus, Baba has one place.
Thus, Husba’u has his throne.
And you sighted me where
Thank you for the recognition.
Thanks a million for the appreciation
Remembrance of Allah.
Download Courting Wuraola (pdf, 348 KB)
This is also a collection of letters addressed to Asma’u of blessed memory. Chronologically, they were written before Courting Wuraola. They encapsulate the essences of patience, trusting on Allah during periods of adversity, advice on learning and teaching useful knowledge, and many others. Excerpts:
“Asma’u, I invite you to reflect on the truth of the piece of stone, to praise Allah. Do not be like the necklace, please. Don’t get broken. But be like gold. Strive as in investment. In the case of gold, it is stone dug out, washed and billowed and given shape. The meeting point between you and the production of this necklace is TIME. It is time that is invested as a means through which investments are employed in producing that form of value. The value that can be taken away or even give way itself.”
“O my dear sister, TIME is a free capital gift of Allah. We can use it to our maximum benefit, to invest either for eternal and everlasting things or for temporary and useless things that we can even lose here. Can you then see and understand the risk and futility of spending most of one’s time, not in the worship of Allah? Malama Asma’u, be patient. Don’t be angry.”
Download Kyauta (pdf, 421 KB)
THE BEAUTIFUL STORY OF UMMI AMINA
In this letter, Jimada concluded his “unintentional autobiography” which he started from Nna’mina Teach. Here, he focused on the circumstances that led to his relocation to Zaria, the honourable people he was opportune to meet, things he learned from them and his eventual marriage with Amina. Hence, this letter was meant to serve as Amina’s “orientation course” on joining the Jimada family. Excerpts:
“Then I intimated him (Amina’s father) that it is not my practice to give boxes of dresses, foot wears, bags, jewelries, cosmetics, etc. although this is commonly done and is not prohibitive. I have given out in respect of my male children when they were required to do so in their marriages. As for my daughters, I freed their suitors from that burdensome tradition. He smiled and said Amina had intimated him. That he was comfortable with whatever we agree on. I then enquired about the dowry and he gave me the Freedom to decide on the Gift. We sealed it at that. “
“Then my wives paid a welcoming visit to Ummi Amina and her household members. It is untraditional and strange but not illegal. And the family of Ummi Amina was not just receptive but exceedingly pleased with the outing. And in return, Allah made my wives a matter of reference for the goodly strange visit.”
Download The Beautiful Story of Ummi Amina (pdf, 273 KB)
DEAR NANA MARYAM AND UMMI RABI’ATU
This is an extended and more elaborate version of A Father’s Khutbah to a Daughter. It was written for Maryam and Rabi’atu. Excerpts:
“And beauty is in the eyes along with what comforting because of familiarity. It is the least quality in itself and deserves little comment. It will be bankrupt of a woman who wholly looks beautiful only. If she is sick, attending to the ailment alone will soon make the beauty disappear. If she is healthy and morally loose, she cannot possibly attract and hold even for a while.”
“With Allah, Rasul and your husband, any other person and thing should find its appropriate position with you. It must not be the other way round. If you preoccupy yourself with your siblings, kith and kins that is not illegal and is very rewarding, you cannot expect to be closer to Allah, Rasul and your husband. You will only be closer to them if your closeness to them determines your closeness to your siblings and relations. It is therefore not always sufficient to be doing the right thing or not doing what is wrong. It is more important to have it in its right priority order. The beginning of disorder will be when you live and get identified as in very close association with anybody BEFORE Allah, and then Rasul and then your partner.”
Download Dear Nana Maryam and Ummi Rabi’atu (pdf, 169 KB)
DEAR BABA MUSTAPHA
As a result of Allah’s will of temporarily interrupting his experience at American University of Nigeria (AUN), Mustapha discovered the power of du’a and became perplexed about Jimada’s faith and reliance on Allah. He once said: “If I have assurance as Jimada has, I don’t mind staying longer in this situation.” He requested Jimada for a guide on du’a. This letter was Jimada’s response. Excerpts:
“You will appreciate that the expression of need, want or fancy does not have to be audible or pronounced. It can be silent. It can be deliberately structured, like when you ask for guidance on a marriage partner. It may be just a sudden flash, when you are unexpectedly confronted by a threat. It can be in wishful response to experiencing a very good deed being done by another person. It can, therefore, be deliberate or casual or even induced.”
“The place for pleading with Allah is ordinarily any place or space. This is because for the Ummah of Rasul the entire world is approved for praying. Therefore wherever the time of prayer finds a believer he is free to pray. He is free to consult with Allah for glorification and make his pleas. But beyond this, which is the best-organized state, NOTHING prohibits a believer from pleading with Allah when he faces a threat like Ibrahim (AS). He expressed submission to Allah because Allah best knows his condition. This peak expression of faith attracted the response to Allah by instructing the fire to be harmless to Ibrahim (AS). Almost all other believers will specify their desire. The same applied to the three youngsters that accidentally got trapped in a cave. They did not require performing ablution. It was after leading the conduct of a Friday congregational prayer that a believer asked the Messenger of Allah to plead for rain. Moses got stuck on the way to escape from Pharaoh and pleaded for rescue. Allah parted the sea for his thoroughfare along with his people. Indeed, even though it is prohibited to perform salat in an environment or place with pictures, if a believer is caught up in such a place and needs to escape, it is appropriate to call on Allah. Allah is All-Surrounding. You will appreciate that this is not a difficulty at all.”
Download Dear Baba Mustapha (pdf, 167 KB)
THREE DAYS FOR HALIMA MUSTAPHA
Halima, for whom, WHY WE MUST was written passed-on on April 27, 2019; just a day before the 39th anniversary of her wedding with Jimada. The wedding took place on 28th April 1980. In this unusual letter to himself, members of his immediate family and any other person who cares, Jimada recounts his first encounter with Halima, nature of courtship, life as a couple, her final days, burial and prayers voluntarily made by different individuals afterward. Intermittently, lessons to be learned by the Ummah were highlighted.
Most importantly, the noble characters of Halima and her parents were underscored. Jimada rhetorically asked: “Did I not name one of my children after her father?” Halima was very patient and readily accepts Jimada’s decision to marry other women. He confessed: “Indeed Halima had on one occasion suggested that I marry a friend and colleague of hers because of her impressive attributes. I cannot exactly recall why I declined.” To be sure, “Halima did not use her children or the wards entrusted to us, against the admission and comfort of the wife I bring in. Her siblings have no business in this. Her parents are nowhere near it … Why should a wife who is blessed with children transform her children into mercenaries against another wife or even the husband?” May Allah (SWT) grant Halima Jannatul Firdaus, Amin.