Pardon over Punishment

Originally posted at American Thinker. blog

According to Islamic law, if a person is found guilty of a crime there is a sentence sanctioned by Sharia law called “qesas.”  If the victim requests it, qesas provides “retribution in kind” and is the Muslim version of “eye-for-an-eye” reprisal for harm done by one person to another.

In 2004 Majid Mohavedi, suitor to the once raven-haired, vibrant Ameneh Bahrami, stalked and then threw a bucket of sulphuric acid over her head after she repeatedly spurned his marriage proposals.  Clearly an astute judge of character, Ameneh had rejected Majid’s advances and regrettably, her discernment turned out to be accurate. Because of the horrific attack, today Ameneh remains terribly disfigured; she is blinded in both eyes and suffers grave injuries to both face and body.

After Ameneh’s skin and clothes were reduced to smoldering ash and her eyeballs literally melted within their sockets, Majid stepped forward and confessed to the crime. Then in 2008 an Iranian court sanctioned a sentence be carried out where Ameneh would personally exact the same excruciating torture on the rejected bridegroom by trickling corrosive acid into his eyes.

There’s no doubt that Ameneh Bahrami is a woman who has endured a terrible fate by a hateful man.  Yet to the world community, a legal system that endorses such harsh retribution is shockingly barbaric. It’s hard to imagine, in a civilized world, how a man under the watchful eye of medical personnel and a coroner could be led into an operating room and, with legal approbation, be forced to have acid systematically dripped into his two perfectly healthy eyes until “rendered unconscious.”

The thought of such inhumane cruelty is beyond comprehension. Yet just a few months ago, Ameneh told Al Jazeera “the verdict is completely legal.” Although postponed a few times after international condemnation, other than fearing burning her hands with acid the blind woman was happily onboard and anticipated being there when a “physician, designated by the judiciary,” liquefied both of Mohavedi’s eyes and corroded his skin.

A happy Ameneh said, “I still strongly stand with the carrying out of the qesas. I want qesas…serenity will not stem from the culprit suffering hardship and pain but that there is the probability of more deterrence regarding those who want to commit this crime.”

Hoping to deter other sadistic criminals from pouring acid over the girl of their dreams, in the end, on the day that the sentence was due to be carried out, a changed Ameneh sent an even stronger message to revenge-ridden Iran by exercising a concept far more powerful than lessons learned from state-authorized agony.

At the last minute, in the operating room where Majid “was on his knees waiting for [Ameneh] to drop acid in his eyes,” rather than seek justice Bahrami said that “she has forgiven Mohavedi and pardoned him.” In response, Mohavedi wept with the eyes still in his head and praised Bahrami for being “very generous.”

More than “generous,” Ameneh not only spared Majid Mohavedi, she “forgave” him, releasing him from his crime by letting go of resentment in her own heart.

A blind and grossly disfigured woman, in a country that hacks off hands and stones women for sport, rose above the fleshly satisfaction intrinsic to qesas.  Given the option to inflict pain on her tormentor, a Muslim woman chose instead to exhibit the power of Christ-like forgiveness.  And while “sightless” in the literal sense, Ameneh Bahrami managed to convey a deeper vision to a world void of mercy and entrenched in the settling of scores, one that says even though bodies may never heal, through the power of forgiveness, hearts surely can.

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