Azim's Bardo - A Father's Journey
From Murder to Forgiveness

Azim Khamisa

Synopsis

On January 21, 1995, Tariq Khamisa, a 20-year old college student at San Diego State University, was killed at point-blank range by a young 14-year old named Tony Hicks. Tariq was making his last pizza delivery of the evening. Tony, hanging with other gang members, was part of a group of young people who had lured "the pizza man" to a false address intending to rob him of two pizzas. Tariq Khamisa refused to hand over the pizzas, and was shot and killed before he could drive away from his attackers. It was a brutal, senseless crime that made national news....

The marvel of this story, the story of Azim's response to his only son's death, is that at the core of Azim Khamisa was a spiritual connection not just to the tragedy he was experiencing, but also to the devastation experienced by the relatives of Tony Hicks, and even young Tony himself. Instead of revenge, Azim Khamisa sought restoration. "There were victims at both ends of that gun," he told a friend shortly after the murder. He added: "The quality of the rest of my life would hinge on how I handled this tragedy."...

The most memorable parts of this book, however, are the not just Azim's words, but also the words of his family, his friends, his associates at the Foundation, and even the words of the prosecutor. Together, they highlight struggles at the core of understanding and accepting not just restorative justice, but also forgiveness, which is central in Azim's way of seeing: "The criminal needs the victim's forgiveness to heal. And in one of human nature's strange twists, full healing for the victim may require him or her to grant that forgiveness. There may be no other way to put down the destructive anger."

 

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