Mona, one of the greatest women, succumbs to COVID-19

By Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano

Ka’ Dayang Mona, second to the left, with her classmates in Syria. Photo from her Facebook page.

Families, loved ones, students, and colleagues both local and abroad of Ustaza Taiba “Mona” Sakaluran Aiyub, one of the renowned Tausug-Banguingui Islamic teachers in Zamboanga City, flabbergasted and saddened over her unexpected demise on May 19, 2021, Wednesday.

His brother, Professor Alih Sakaluran Aiyub, Secretary General of the Ulama Council of the Philippines, announced on his Facebook account that her beloved sister had died. She was 62.

Accordingly, on May 14, 2021, Friday, just a day after Eid’l Fitr 1442H, she was admitted to a hospital in Zamboanga City. On May 19, 2021, Wednesday, she succumbed to COVID-19. Alhamdu Lillāhi, she was still able to reach and fast the blessed month of Ramadhān 1442H, the last and final Ramadhān of her life.

Ka’ Dayang Mona giving a lecture exclusively for women during the old normal Ramadhan Symposium held in the Amil Tower. Photo from the Facebook page of the Al-Mu’minat Organization. 

His brother Alih narrated that Ka’ Dayang was still able to pray Eid at home. However, because she already had experienced some of the symptoms of COVID-19, she isolated herself from her family. Who would have thought that Eid’l Fitr 1442H was already her last and final Eid?

“Ka’ Dayang, hambuuk kaw daing ha mga babai pilihan. Kiyalawaan Ina’ in ībuhan kababaihan ha adlaw ini sibu’ da maas bata’. Bang mayan in ikaw tarbilang daing ha mga sila shahid,” lamented Jantung Al-Moro, UAE Residence, upon learning the demise of Ka’ Dayang Mona. (Ka’ Dayang, you were one of the greatest women. Today, thousands of women, children and adults have lost a mother by your death. May you be counted as a martyr.)

“Ka’/Bu’ Dayang” Mona, as fondly called by many of her students and colleagues in Madrasa has truly lived an exemplary life. As a noble woman and devoted teacher specializes in Islamic education, she inspired and touched the lives of many people both who knew her personally and those who did not by always being the best example of a good person not just to her fellow Muslims but to the non-Muslims alike.

Ka’ Dayang Mona was one of the Muslimat in the Philippines with foreign degree in Islamic study. In 1992, she obtained an Islamic higher education degree, major in Shari’a (Islamic Jurisprudence) at the Islamic University in Damascus, Syria. She has also successfully completed a diploma program in the Qur’an, Tajwīd and Da’wah in the same country in 1993.

She returned to the Philippines in 1994 with an unwavering commitment to educate her Muslim brothers and sisters about Islam.

Ka’ Dayang Mona, seated on the right, with her co-teacher and students in Madrasa. Most of her students are now professionals. Contributed photo by Nadeem Amil, a licensed Radiologic Technologist works as an OFW.

From then and until 2021, a year of her death, she dedicated her life in her community in Zamboanga City in educating many Muslim children, adults, and especially women on the beautiful teachings of Islam. She has been actively teaching in Madrasa and Da’wah in Hadji Ahmad Sakaluran Institute (HASI), Three chapters of AL-MU’MINAT Markadz: Sta Catalina Chapter, Al-Zahra Tumaga Chapter, and Amils Tower Chapter.

Many of her students in Madrasa became an asset in the country’s peace-building and also became responsible law-abiding Muslim citizens elsewhere.

Impressively, Ka’ Dayang Mona was an empowered women during her time. In fact, she was one of the founders of Zamboanga City based Al-Mu’ninat Organization, “a group of empowered Muslimah committed to establish a justly balanced community that benefits humanity.”

Women Empowerment through Islamic Education and Da’wah; Organizing Muslimah through Al-Mu’minat Organization; Islamic Humanitarian Work were amongst her notably advocacies in life.

“From amongst the eight in the siblings, she was the third oldest,” shares his brother, Alih. “To be always conscious of Allāh and to serve the humanity regardless of faith, creed, race, color or gender,” are ways his brother Alih would remember her sister.

Through the years, Ka’ Dayang Mona serves as a crucial instrument in upholding the well being especially the spiritual aspect of not only her students and colleagues but also the community she lives in.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zamboanga City, Ka’ Dayang, through the organization she has founded organized a humanitarian relief for the indigent people of Mampang, Arena Blanco, Asinan, Tulungatung, and Pangapuyan. They have distributed food items, among others.

Ka’ Dayang Mona, seated in the center with a dark brown veil, with her students and colleagues in Madrasa, post for a picture outside the Masjid Sakaluran, Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City. Photo for her Facebook page.

Noteworthy to mention, most of her posts on her Facebook account are so inspiring and uplifting and are shared by many netizens. She encouraged her friends and Facebook followers to be a kindhearted person to everyone at all times most especially to one’s family and loved ones. Undoubtedly, they would miss her posts because it is a messages emanating from a sincere heart, full of wisdom and truly comforting.

A person like Ka’ Dayang Mona, despite not being well-compensated or have innumerable benefits from the government like the teachers of secular schools, has inculcated to us, her students the importance of being a kindhearted person, not just to ourselves, but also to our families, loved ones and everyone who comes across our ways.

She is more than precious gems to the hearts of her students like me because she tirelessly taught us many beautiful teachings of life derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam). She taught us how to pay respect and take good care of our parents especially when they get older.

She taught us to feed the hunger, to be kind to the poor and orphans, and even to the animals. She taught us the etiquette of eating, sleeping, waking up from sleep, entering the comfort room, among others.

Likewise, she taught us the importance of cleanliness and orderliness and being lenient in everything. Most of all she taught us to be calm when we are angry. She taught us to be patient and not to engage in any altercations but instead just to be patient and stay away from any form of quarrels.

She taught us to be humble and grateful. She taught us everything that we need to know about how to become a good, responsible and peace-loving human being in this world. These are from amongst the many other things that you can learn from a person like Ka’ Dayang Mona.

“I am sure that Ka’ Dayang Ustaza Mona Sakaluran Aiyub is very happy now, because she had inspired and touched many lives, Alhamdu Lillāhi– Praise be to God,” Alih further said.

“Your death Kah Dayang Ustaza Mona Sakaluran Aiyub has fortified our Iman to continue your legacy in serving the Ummah for the love of Allāh. To all her loved ones — relatives, close friends, murids, and especially Al-Muhminat, her beloved companions, let’s continue her pagsumadja, da’wah and humanitarian programs and services in our own little and humble way”, reminded Alih.

Ka’ Dayang Mona will surely be sorely missed by those she loves and those who love her from her students and colleagues. May Allāh grant her forgiveness and mercy and admit her to the highest place in Jannah, āmin.


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