[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]
Samarth’s life in a small town of Northern Iran had been a rather normal one. But everything changed when one day, when her 18-year-old son Abdullah was stabbed in the heart by his friend. Her high school aged son was no longer breathing by the time he arrived at the hospital. The murderer Bilal was sentenced to death by the Islamic court. It took the court many years however, to execute the death sentence via hanging. By the time the sentence was followed through, the convict was roughly 25 years old.
It had been an extremely difficult seven years for the family of the victim. The execution should at least bring a sense of justice to the mother’s mourning heart. In this part of Iran, the execution was conducted publicly, and the victim’s family even had the right to kick the chair where the murder stood with a noose around their neck.
Ten days before execution day, Abdullah appeared in her dream. He pleaded, “Mother, please do not take revenge.” The young boy in her dream came back to tell his mother that he was doing okay. To this, his mother responded, “No son, revenge is needed! It is the right thing that Allah has allowed us to do. I cannot simply forgive the killer no matter what happens.” The mother was determined to punish the murderer and tried to shake off the image of her young son which was now seared into her mind.
Her son appeared again in her dream two days before the execution. This time, he did not say anything but simply stared at his mother. The look in his eyes conveyed to his mother that he did not want revenge nor perpetuate the hatred that had built within their family. His mother could not simply forgive the person who took her son’s future away and she was still determined to see through the death of the culprit.
According to a Turkish newspaper, the young killer named Bilal “screamed and cried working to break away from officers who had to drag him to the gallows.” The crowd yelled out to Abdullah’s family to forgive the sobbing murderer. Bilal’s mother who also suffered for years begged for mercy. Both women wearing traditional Chador expressed extreme pain and suffering. Samarth went up to the gallows in order to follow through on her duty. She was insistent on execution and even requested a chair next to the man. The mother of the victim stood on top of the chair placed directly next to the convicted killer.
The crowd yelled, “give Bilal mercy! Forgive him!” Suddenly, the mother slapped the man’s face which was covered by a black cloth. She turned to her husband for help with releasing Bilal from the noose. Bilal’s mother immediately rushed to kiss Samarth’s feet, a gesture of up-most humbleness in their culture.
Samarth commented during a newspaper interview, “I did not let her do that. Bilal’s mother suffered just as much as I did. She also lived through the pain like I did. I would know, simply because I am a mother just like she is.” The cold, stiff blood in the mourning mother’s body slowly began to defrost. Once she performed a brave act of forgiveness, Samarth began to warm up.
I have learned that the etymology of the word forgiveness originated from Latin, meaning to give completely (fore). When Abdullah’s mother Samarth did exactly that, she gave it her all to find forgiveness for her son’s killer. She did this based on a conscientious decision. She chose to give and was determined to not continue living her life as the victim.
As soon as she chose to stand up and slap his face, then proceeded to release the murderer, there were no longer any victims left. She stood in the position of someone who could give to others based on her brave act of forgiveness. Samarth would not give up on mourning the loss of her son or forgetting what happened. She took back the power of making her own decisions through this painful experience. She didn’t just forgive the convict for son Bilal, but she did so for her and her family.