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Azim’s Bardo From Murder to Forgiveness: A Father’s Journey (E-Book)


“Bust him, Bone!”

A single shot from the 9mm handgun exploded in the night air. Tariq Khamisa, a 20-year-old college student and part-time pizza deliverer, lay dead in the front seat of his car. The killer: eighth-grader Tony Hicks. So began the bardo of Azim Khamisa, Tariq’s father. ”Bardo” is a Tibetan Buddhist concept Azim came upon shortly after the murder. It is a gap between the end of one life state and the onset of another.

The loss of his only son ended forever the life Azim had known. He was thrown into a nightmarish bardo through which he had to find his way. But his strong Islamic Ismaili faith and his determination to make his son’s death meaningful transformed Azim’s bardo into a remarkable journey. A spiritual teacher started his path by telling him that compassionate acts, undertaken in the name of the departed, are ”spiritual currency” that speeds the soul’s journey. Azim searched his heart. He found no desire for vengeance there.

“From the beginning, I saw victims at both ends of that gun,” he said. In an extraordinary act, he reached out to the family of his son’s killer. “We both carry a burden of loss. Help me carry mine. Let me help you carry yours,” was the message he conveyed to Ples Felix, Tony’s grandfather. He discovered in Ples a faith as strong as his own, and a similar burning desire to end the plague of youth violence. Azim established the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to do this work. Its award-winning programs in the San Diego schools use powerful, real-life dramas to teach kids that they have the ability—and the responsibility—to choose nonviolent solutions to problems. Ples is vice chairman of the Foundation and serves on the Board of Trustees. Azim’s journey also led him to discover an approach to criminal justice that he believes is a model for the future.

Restorative justice seeks to restore wholeness to victims and communities when crimes are committed. Importantly, it also offers perpetrators an opportunity to redeem themselves as contributing, responsible members of society. This is a win-win process and is especially valuable in cases involving juvenile criminals. From Murder to Forgiveness is a powerful and inspiring story that offers hope for the restoration of lives brutalized by acts of violence.