A Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh has taught us how love can be an antidote to hate, and how violence against violence is not the answer to our ills.
Rais Bhuiyan’s story starts nearly two decades ago, when he first came to the U.S. as an immigrant. In one of his talks, he tells about his experience as he was first coming to the U.S. from Bangladesh, just three months before the 9/11. The pilot of the plane he was flying let him go up to the cockpit and that they had a friendly conversation. He says that something like this happening today is almost impossible and that he can’t even speak Arabic because it is considered as a security threat.
After 9/11, he spoke about an incident in which a man, holding a gun, walked into a store of a gas station he was working at. Thinking it was a robbery, Rais offered him the money in the cash register. The gunman asked him where he was from and even before he could reply, he shot him in the face. Rais lost one of his eyes. His assailant was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. Luckily, he survived, unlike two of his friends in the gas station.
What Rais did next was very inspiring. Instead of watching him be killed and going on with his life, he fought for his assailant to not be executed. He thought that violence wouldn’t be solved with violence and that this person had to be taught.
When his assailant found out about him fighting for him not to be executed, he wrote a letter telling Rais that he was sorry and that whoever raised him raised him right.
When he was going to be executed he wished to talk with Rais. Rais told him that he never hated him and responded: “I love you bro.” It is amazing how someone who wanted to kill Rais out of hatred was saying that he loved him and even called him brother. Rais then founded a website called “worldwithouthate.org”, where he is fighting against hate.
I think that this is a very touching and powerful story. Just by not hating and loving, he changed the mindset of a man who, if not for the love, might have gone to his grave with full of hate. But with a single act of kindness, this man’s mind was changed forever — even though he was eventually executed.