Born in Bangladesh, Rais Bhuiyan had always dreamed of moving to the United States. “As a child, my impression about the USA was [that] it's a great country, a beautiful country. I remember watching a lot of Western movies. … It was a dream that one day I should visit the wild, wild West and see all those things.”
Bhuiyan moved to Dallas, Texas, in May of 2001, three months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ten days after 9/11, a white supremacist named Mark Stroman came into the gas station where Bhuiyan was working behind the counter, pointed a double barreled shotgun at his face, and pulled the trigger. “I felt at first like a million bees stinging my face. … And I was begging God, do not take me today.” Although Bhuiyan had been shot in the head at point blank range, he survived the attack.
After going on Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with his mother in 2009, Bhuiyan was reminded of a teaching of Islam: “In my faith, in Islam, it says that saving a life is like saving the entire mankind.” Then Bhuiyan did something almost unimaginable. As Mark Stroman sat on death row, Bhuiyan worked night and day to fight for his clemency, and the two of them — the attacker and the victim — became friends. Bhuiyan now serves as founder and president of a nonprofit, “World Without Hate.”
“[World Without Hate educates] people about the transformation of power of mercy and forgiveness, based on the hope that we can build a better world. A world without violence, a world without victims, and a world without hate.”