Rais Bhuiyan, a devout Muslim and former Air Force pilot from Bangladesh, moved to the United States to pursue higher education. When he first arrived in Dallas, Texas, he worked at a gas station and convenience store.
On September 21, 2011, a man wearing a bandana and sunglasses entered the gas station with a sawed off double barrel shotgun. Bhuiyan thought he was being robbed. He asked the man not to shoot and said he’d give him the money. When the assailant asked Bhuiyan where he was from, Bhuiyan realized that the man was not there for money.
Without waiting for an answer, the man shot Bhuiyan at close range. The shooter, Mark Stroman, shot two other people shortly after 9/11. Both of them died. Stroman thought he was shooting Arabs. None of his victims were. He was seeking revenge for the 9/11 attack. Stroman was arrested on his way to a mall and mosque with the intent of killing as many Arabs as possible. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Bhuiyan survived. He lost the sight of his right eye and still has 35 pellets in his face. But he never gave up. Today he is a systems manager at a high tech company.
After his recovery, Bhuiyan took his mother to Mecca. While there, he remembered the promise he had made to God when he was shot. He had promised that if God saved him, he would serve others.
When Bhuiyan returned home, he forgave Stroman and worked to save his life. However, he did not succeed. Stroman was executed in July, 2011.
Bhuiyan founded and is the president of World Without Hate, an organization dedicated to ending the “cycle of hate and violence through the practice of restorative forgiveness.” To learn more about World Without Hate see http://worldwithouthate.org/. You can read
Rais Bhuiyan’s story in Anand Giridharadas’ book, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas.
What about us? Is there someone we have a hard time forgiving?
Is there anyone we want to ask God to help us forgive? If so, we can start the process of forgiveness, and bring peace to ourselves and others.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.