Rais Bhuiyan, an American Muslim from Bangladesh, is an extraordinary human being with a remarkable story. On Sept. 21, 2001, Bhuiyan was shot in the face by Mark Stroman, a white supremacist, calling himself “the Arab slayer.” That fateful day forced Bhuiyan to rebuild his life, but also sparked his path as peace and human rights activist. In 2011, he worked tirelessly to save Stroman’s life, requesting clemency and later turning the international campaign, A World Without Hate, into a nonprofit. He believes to form a better world people need peace, love and forgiveness, and must spread it to neighbors, citizens, colleagues, friends and all human beings, knocking down the walls of difference.
Rais Bhuiyan speaks to a crowd at the Islamic Center of Long Island. The Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) recently hosted Bhuiyan, who addressed several different gatherings, the weekly Friday afternoon services and had a detailed interactive conversation with a sizable number of attendees.
Bhuiyan, a humble, soft spoken young man, shared his impactful story, including how he reconciled with the difficulties he faced—a lost job, fiancée and more than $60,000 of medical bills—and how good Samaritans of all faiths helped him overcome these challenges. He eventually forgave Stroman and went as far as the Supreme Court to plead for clemency for him. When asked why he forgave Stroman, his response was that his faith and parents taught him the importance of forgiveness and peace.
Bhuiyan left a deep positive impression on all and represents an example of faith in action. He is the subject of the book, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas, which was rated as one of 100 notable books by The New York Times and received several awards.
“Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light, by which the prophets who had surrendered (themselves to Allah) judged the Jews, as did the rabbis and priests (who followed) the scripture of Allah which they were bidden to observe, and to which they were witness. So fear not men but fear Me. And sell not My verses for a trivial gain. Whoever judges not by that which Allah has revealed, these are the unbelievers.” Qur’an 5:44
“And We sent, in their footsteps, “Isa (Jesus) son of Mariam, confirming that which was (revealed) before him of the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, confirming the Torah which was before it a guidance and admonition for those who fear Allah.” Qur’an 5:46
“And to you (Muhammad) We have revealed the Book with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires to forsake the truth that has come to you. To each of We prescribed law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation (united in religion), but (He intended) to test you in what He has given you; so race to (all that is) good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will (then) inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” Qur’an 5:48
This event attracted a large gathering, received extensive TV and print media coverage in Newsday, Long Island Press and Islamic Horizon magazine.
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