By Sulayman Danjo
The death of
Sheikh Hattab Bojang:
Sheikh Hattab delivered his last address to the people of Gunjur two days before he passed away, on the evening of Saturday, April 28, 1984. That evening, a religious event was organized in Gunjur, at which Sheikh Hattab gave a very touching reminder about death and the preparations for the last day. He concluded the lecture with golden commandments for the people of Gunjur, including saying: “Oh, people of Gunjur! I planted trees in this township that will bear fruit. People will continue to benefit from their fruits until the Day of Resurrection, God willing, and these trees are my students, among them: Mohammed Al-Amin Touray, a student at the Islamic University of Madinah, and my student Essa Darboe, a student at the Islamic University of Madinah, and my student Dembo Touray, a student at Kuwait’s School of Education, and my student Fa Foday Darboe, a student at the Islamic Call College in Libya, and my student Ismail Manjang who is sitting right next to me here – he can interpret the Holy Qur’an as I explain it – and many others. So, even if I die today, it does not matter because God has answered my prayers in these individuals whom I moulded and taught. They will continue the path I started as I planned, God willing.
“O people of Gunjur, forgive one another and forget what has happened. As for me, if I die before those people (meaning his enemies and opponents), they will inevitably follow me, and God will judge us. People said: How do you advise us to forgive, and you do not forgive those who wronged you? He said to them: What is between you is the rights of a human being over a human being, but as for those people, they objected to my path and made sure to prevent me from establishing the religion of God and propagating it as He wants.”
The following day, Sunday, April 29, 1984, Sheikh Hattab’s student, Sheikh Ismail Manjang, visited the revered figure’s home in Bojang Kunda to discuss a specific matter. On the evening of the same day, Sheikh Hattab Bojang went to Serrekunda to stay overnight at his Wolof wife, KANI JOBE.
Date of his death, may God have mercy on him:
On Monday, April 30, 1984, the Sheikh left the house of his wife, Mrs. KANI JOBE, in the bright, early morning when a Radio Gambia vehicle pulled up at the door to record an Islamic program with him. However, just after their arrival, he remembered that he had not offered the prayers for morning brightness (Dhuha), so he handed his bag to Mr. Yusuf Jatta and said, ‘Wait a while’ going home to pray. Upon reaching home and beginning his prostration, he passed away. His young daughter, Aisha Bojang, was with him at home at the time. The Sheikh stayed prostrated until his wife, KANI JOBE, became concerned and came in to check on him. She found him prostrating and waited for him for a time, believing him to be deep in prayer. She spoke his name, but he did not respond or raise his head, then repeated her calls, again with no response. When he remained motionless, she became alarmed and sent a boy named Omar Jaiteh to look for Mr. Bala Musa Fatty, one of the first teachers in the Solidarity School. Bala Musa came quickly and entered the house with several other people, where they found Sheikh Hattab, still prostrating. They called him, and he did not answer. When they moved him, they discovered that he had passed away! God is great!! We belong to God, and to Him we shall return! What a beautiful ending, and what a tremendous and fitting conclusion to his noble life. May Allah have mercy on him.
On the same day – Monday, April 30, 1984 – Sheikh Hattab’s body was taken to his hometown of Gunjur; upon the arrival of the body, he was ritually washed by his student, Sheikh Ismail Manjang, and by Sheikh Karamo Touray, the imam of Gunjur at the time, with a large congregation gathering for the funeral prayers at the mosque following the afternoon prayers.
The funeral attracted huge crowds of mourners who accompanied Sheikh Hattab’s body to the public cemetery where he was buried near an African fig tree at the southeastern corner. This was an occasion of great grief and mourning for the Gambian people, especially scholars, preachers and Arabic teachers.
And so, Sheikh Hattab Bojang passed away at the age of 53, leaving behind a legacy of monumental achievements, which could only be achieved by someone of his faith, knowledge and steadfastness. May God have mercy on him, reward his efforts, and usher him into the highest Paradise without reckoning.
Translated by Basidia M Drammeh & Abdullah Ebrahim Samateh