Forgiving someone for attempted murder seems unfathomable.
(Apr 04, 2013 - Anaheim, CA)
The shotgun came up. It pointed directly at the dark-skinned man clerking at the Dallas gas station. He recently had immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Rais Bhuiyan observed some customers at the gas station who grew aggressive and argumentative. On Sept. 21, Mark Stroman walked in, asked Bhuiyan where he was from and then shot him in the face, blinding him in his right eye. Bhuiyan was Stroman’s third victim in a hunting spree that left two other South Asian men dead.
Eight years later, the story changed – as hearts change – from one of revenge and terror to forgiveness and repentance. On the day that Stroman was slated for execution, Bhuiyan told Stroman that he had for-given him. Stroman, who had grown deeply penitent over his actions, thanked Bhuiyan in his last moments of living.
Forgiving someone for attempted murder seems unfathomable. It is difficult for the broken-hearted to forgive.
In all three Abrahamic traditions, the human journey begins with sin and forgiveness. God created Adam and forbade him from eating the fruit of a specified tree. Adam disobeyed the command, repented to God and he was shown forgiveness.
It’s much easier to be angry than to forgive. Sometimes we unnecessarily cling to anger. But Islam, as other faith traditions, asks us to rise above anger and discord and to reflect God’s attributes to the best of our limited human capability on this Earth.
“They should pardon and forgive. Do you not love that God should forgive you? And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 24:22).
To forgive is not an act of passivism. We do not forgive by forgetting or not dealing with those who have wronged us. It is not our anger that inhibits us from forgiveness, but how we deal with our anger.
Forgiveness liberates our souls, empowers us with profound resolve to move forward, to improve our own shortcomings, to not let the sting of hatred or malice control our hearts and hinder us from improving ourselves.
It is an act of mercy to the wronged and the one who has wronged.
We cannot have what we will not give. We cannot have the fruits of forgiveness – peace, generosity, comfort, compassion and mercy – without giving it as Bhuiyan gave it to Stroman.
– Hussam Ayloush is the executive director of CAIR-Greater Los Angeles, based in Anaheim