Today I prefer to use the Turkish spelling of your name as a token of reverence. I have never had occasion to use it in our interactions during your sojournment in the world since we conversed in Arabic in which case the variance between the two pronunciations of Huseyin and Hussein was blurred.
Even though I do not perceive the nature of the life you are now in, I do not also think of you as ‘dead’. I am certain you are living and have provision with your Lord. (al-Baqarah 154 and Aali Imraan 169). That reassurance will not, however, obliterate the pain in our hearts of your departure; it will only grant grief abatement.
I know you were not immortal since Allah has appointed immortality to no mortal. I believe that all of us – one by one – shall pass through that inevitable exit, and when our time comes, we can neither put it off an hour nor yet advance it; certainly, everything will perish save Allah’s Countenance. His is the command, and we shall all be brought back to Him.
Call to mind, Yaa Sheikh, our conversation on the phone after I learnt you had been ailing for sometime. That was Dr Taufiq Abubakar of Bayaro University, Kano posted the sad news on our platform. Our last correspondence with you was on WhatsApp when you updated me on your condition, stressing that you were still under intensive care. I also spoke to the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr Servet Gülerman.
Brother Muhammet Emin Yildiz later told me that they had to distance all communication devices away from you to give you respite from distraction and persistent in-coming calls. From that moment onwards, Muhammet Emin Yildiz remained my only source of information and communication to you – now the news about your condition was benign, lifting our low mood, and in another we felt despondent, making us intensify our du’aa. He requested me to make a video recording of my best wishes and prayers for you to serve as an assuagement, that the doctors will permit that to be shown to you. I did.
I had to travel to Saudi Arabia for a meeting. I called brother Muhammet after arriving at Madeenah. He was very distraught. ‘Pray for Sheikh Huseyin, please’; he said amidst sobs, ‘the people around him are making him repeat the kalimah. The doctors said he’s not likely to make it.’
The blast came 24 hours later in a WhatsApp chat from brother Muhammet Emin Yildiz to confirm our worst fears; overtaken by my own sob of despair I confoundedly took refuge in the Prophet’s Mosque, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam. Yes, the eyes will overflow with tears; the heart will grieve, but we will never utter what is displeasing unto our Lord. We are indeed grieved by your departure, Yaa Sheikh Huseyin. But I found solace in retiring to the vicinity of the Prophet’s Raudah, supplicating Allah for you and rehearsing your Hasanaat (good works) in the advancement of this Deen. I remembered the 120 television programmes you supervised to be recorded in the Hausa language – ‘Dawwamammen Haske’ – on the lessons in the life of the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam and which will be broadcast soon on many stations. Also, I remembered the quiz competition Nusret would be organising on the same subject matter based on the original book, an-Nurul Khaalid written by Sheikh Fethullah Gülen.
I recalled all that we ever did, both of us or in a group, from the time Allah brought us together to the last three outings to some Turkish companies in Nigeria – within Abuja – just last December. You insisted on continuing with the window-shopping even when I and my wife showed concern about how stressful the visits to the showrooms were on you, as if you were trying to finish and assignment. Your aim was to please whoever met with you even at the expense of your comfort. You visited me in my residence or office for more than 30 times either alone or in the company of guests from Turkey but there was not a single time that you came without a gift either in the form of special chocolates for the children or a book on Islam. Since you were known to all, my entire family, staff at home and the office needed no detailed description to recognise and pray for Sheikh Huseyin Baydar.
You sacrificed, Yaa Sheikh, everything – your country, your comfort, your security, your life, your time and your family for the Khidmah (service), from where the organisation you headed took its appellation. You spared no effort in serving humanity; you were the leader yet you acted as if you were the servant of the recipients of your beneficence. If, as mentioned by the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, feeding a fasting Muslim gives one equal reward without diminishing anything of the recipient’s reward, who can fathom the recompense of the flock you shepherded in its Ramadan feeding programmes where hundreds of thousands are provided not only with Iftaar (what to break their fast) but many more get foodstuffs that sustain them for the greater part of the fasting period? How can loneliness affect you in your grave when you had consistently put a smile on the faces of indigent people by slaughtering hundreds of cattle and distributing the meat to them every Eidul Adhaa?
Why do we have to grieve the departure of one who spearheaded the distribution of millions of copies of the Glorious Qur’an to Muslims? Why do the tears keep flowing from our eyes in quick succession for one who exerted his utmost in conveying Allah’s messages unto the people? We weep because that is the only way of release to us, a mercy that Allah places within the bosom of believers. So, let the tears wet our faces as we supplicate and moan the loss of a dear friend.
If acts political expediency in the current leadership of Turkey have made Nusret and its promoters under your superintendence to be Muhajireen in Nigeria, then we, the Nigerians, should have assumed the position of the Ansaar by assisting you and facilitating your mission among us. But our tardiness in that regard made you take up the role of both the Muhajireen and the Ansaar, taking us in and providing succour. Allah shall not cause the recompense of the good to be wasted!
As the head of Nusret, under which are many establishments – Nizamiye Hospital, Nile University, NTIC schools in many states of Nigeria, Ufuk Dialogue, etc. you personified Khidmah in every meaning of the word, following in the footsteps of the scholar of Islam, Sheikh Fethullah Gülen; you were his worthy emissary and knight of Da’wah. The motto of the Ufuk Dialogue Foundation for instance reads: ‘Reserve in your heart a seat for everyone’, an imperishable signpost in our intra- and inter- religious engagements either as Muslims or as Christians. This fostering of mutual respect and understanding among followers of different creeds was manifest in Nusret institutions and about 100 conferences, seminars, webinars (and counting) through the length and breath of this country. Da’wah expeditions under your leadership had no red lines on the basis of security concerns, distance or safety of path. When we travelled to Gombe and later Gashua, Kano, etc you showed no sign of fear and weariness did not hamper you. The certitude was apparent in the commitment you exhibited that Allah will record a good need in your favour for any thirst, hunger, toil or distress that afflicted you in His cause as well as for any commission on your part that angered His foes. (Taubah 120).
I will end by this: Sheikh Jamal Alsafarti from Albania sobbingly sent this WhatsApp voice note to the Nusret Nigeria platform the summary of which is: “Salaam Alaykum, Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’uun. There is no strength save in Allah! In this calamity that has befallen us, we won’t say anything except what will please our Lord. May Allah have mercy on our brother, Ustaz Hussein who doesn’t need someone like me to praise him. He detested praise in his life. We pray Allah to honour his arrival, be hospitable to him and raise him with those unto whom Allah has shown favour, of the Prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they!
“Congratulations to a group in which Hussein was a member. That group is prosperous which had among its members Ustaz, Sheikh, Islamic propagator Hussein. Also, congratulations to these honoured and generous brethren who cuddled and accommodated him in their midst.
“It is my belief, dear brethren, Allah destined al-Khair for the African continent in general and for Nigeria in particular that a man like Sheikh Hussein Baydar would live in it, and Allah, moreover, honoured you that this man passed on and was buried in your country. Congratulations to your country that encased within its earth bodies of saints like Hussein Baydar; I deem him, in the sight of Allah, of the saints.
“I beseech Allah to bestow fortitude to his family not least his steadfast, illustrious wife, and to those who love him in Turkey, Nigeria and anywhere around the world. We have deposited Sheikh Hussein in the custody of One with Whom deposits are not lost. May He have mercy on him!”