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Qisas, would you pardon your enemy?




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It was a special news posted and re-posted worldwide on social media these days about an execution in Iran. The news took me to search for a little bible translated into Thai I got more than ten years ago and left dusty on the most upper shelf. There is a phrase I searched for: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38)

The news is about a public execution in Iran, which was stopped at the last minute by the family of the victim. In Iran, they use the qisas system within Islamic law, which roughly equates to an “eye for an eye”: only the family of the victim have the authority to issue a pardon.

The case occurred 7 years ago when a teenage Balal stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh to dead during a street brawl in the northern province of Mazandaran. When the justice day came, the victim and the accused families attend the execution in the public area.

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Balal’s mother on the justice day
Credit: Iranian Students’ News Agency

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Desperated mother waited for his son’s execution.
Credit: ISNA

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Balal screams for his life.
Credit: ISNA

During the process, the victim’s family has a right to pull out the chair to hang the accused. But astonished to everyone, Abdollah’s mother asked for another chair. She standed on it, slapped on his face and said “Forgive me”.

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Credit: ISNA

Then Abdollah’s parent together removed the noose from Balal’s neck. He was forgiven.

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Credit: ISNA

 

The reaction from the crowd and both families were even more dramatic, they cried together, one for lost the son and the other for gotten him back, from death.

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Credit: ISNA

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The two mothers cried together
Credit: ISNA

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Credit: ISNA

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Credit: ISNA

According to The Guardian, the father of the victim has come to the conclusion that Balal did not kill his son deliberately. “Balal was inexperienced and didn’t know how to handle a knife. He was naive.” It took six years for a court to hand down a death sentence, and the victim’s family deferred the execution a number of times. (One interesting award-winning 2005 independent film about this topic, name Dame sobh (English title: Day Break) The decision for the pardon came, according to the father “Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they (another son dead) are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate … This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution.”

The Hosseinzadeh’s pardon draw great attention and comments about Iranian’s Qisas system and human right’s petition. After China, Iran has the highest number of executions of any country in the world, according to Amnesty International.  As of last week, 199 executions are believed to have been carried out in Iran this year, a rate of almost two a day.

But what touched me most is the Abdollah’s family hearts, their forgiveness is far beyond my own. I just think if I would choose the same as them in that situation. They would not got the son back, but gave a son back to the other mother.

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Credit: ISNA

That, the great man told us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous…”

We all share the same Sun, sky, goodness and grievousness.

Credits: BBC news, The Guardian, Iranian Students’ News Agency ISNA.

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