Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A True Ramadan Story of Forgiveness

During this month of April, I am fasting with my Muslim husband, even though I myself am not Muslim. I do it, despite the 100 degree heat, despite the caffeine withdrawal headaches I get, despite the constant grumblings of my stomach.  I do it because I love him and respect him, and I personally feel that it would be insensitive for me to eat in front of him while he is fasting.

Many people around the world have very little knowledge about Islam and its teachings. So I thought I would share a real life example of what being a Muslim is during this holy month of Ramadan.  What follows is the true story of a man who lives his religion through his actions.  This is the REAL Islam.

In 2001, Rais Bhuiyan was a 28 year old Dallas resident, an immigrant from Bangladesh. He had been an officer in the Bangladesh Air Force and then found himself studying computer technology in New York City.  He later moved to Dallas at the urging of a friend who offered him a partnership in his gas station. 

Mark Stroman, also of Dallas, was a 31 year old lifelong career criminal, meth addict and a white supremacist.  After the 9/11 attacks, Stroman decided to take revenge and went out armed with the intent of killing any Arab/Muslim looking men he came upon, targeting convenience stores.  He murdered 46 year old Waqar Hasan, a Pakistani immigrant, in a grocery store. 

A few days later (10 days after 9/11) Stroman again went out looking for revenge at a gas station convenience store in Dallas.   Rais Bhuiyan was working behind the counter.  Stroman raised his shotgun,  shot Bhuiyan in the face, and fled. Bhuiyan was severely injured but still alive. A couple of weeks later, Stroman shot and killed an Indian immigrant, Vasudev Patel, age 49, in nearby Mesquite, TX.  Patel was not even Muslim; he was Hindu. Not one of these three men were Arabs either.

Fortunately Stroman was soon captured. From his jail cell, he proudly spoke to news stations about what a great patriot he was for exacting his revenge on Muslims – innocent Muslims who had nothing at all to do with the events of 9/11.  Stroman was tried for murder, was found guilty, and was sentenced to death.

Meanwhile Bhuiyan was bankrupted and left deep in debt from his medical bills. He had to endure countless surgeries and permanently lost the sight in one of his eyes. He still lives with over 35 pellets in his face to this day. 

Forgiveness is a major teaching of Islam. Islam also says that saving one human life is the same as saving all of mankind. So despite all the pain and hardships Bhuiyan had endured, he chose to forgive Stroman for what he had done. But not only that, Bhuiyan also took up the cause to save Stroman from the death penalty, filing a lawsuit to try to stop the execution.

Because of Bhuiyan’s actions, Stroman finally expressed his remorse over what he had done. However Bhuiyan’s attempt to save his attacker failed. Stroman was executed in 2011.  A documentary film called “An Eyefor an Eye” was released in 2016 about this tragic true story.

Before his death, Stroman was quoted as saying “I have the Islamic Community joining in my legal defence, spearheaded by one very remarkable man named Rais Bhuiyan, who is a survivor of my hate. His deep Islamic beliefs gave him the strength to forgive the unforgiveable. That is truly inspiring to me and should be an example for us all. The hate has to stop. We are all in this world together.”

Leading by example, Rais Bhuiyan today works to make this world a better place for everyone and trying to save mankind in his own way. He started his own non-profit organization called World Without Hate, spreading his message of love, forgiveness, and acceptance.


Rais Bhuiyan, American: If someone shot you in the face and left you for dea, would you try to save his life?  Esquire Magazine article, Dec 2011

20 Years After a White Supremacist Almost Killed Him, He's Dedicated His Life to Changing Hearts 

Rais Bhuiyan - Wikipedia

Mark Anthony Stroman - Wikipedia


Tom said...

...forgiveness can be difficult.

Anonymous said...

I feel a bit teary after reading that ultimately uplifting story. Thank you.

Marie Smith said...


William Kendall said...

He's a better man than I am. Forgiveness is a very difficult thing for me.