King Crown Forum Speaker Azim Khamisa Preaches Forgiveness as a Path to Peace
17 Jan 2014
Posted by Add Seymour Jr.
By ADD SEYMOUR JR. — Azim Khamisa’s heart immediately broke the moment his 20-year-old son, Tariq, was gunned down while delivering a pizza in November 1995.
But the next thing the devastated father did was to take his share of the blame for the 14-year-old gang member’s decision to shoot his son. Then he forgave the young murderer.
“I felt as an American citizen that I must take my share of the responsibility for the bullet that took my son’s life because it was fired by an American child,” Khamisa told students during the Martin Luther King Jr. Crown Forum Thursday in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. “I believe every caring American should do the same.”
“Every one of us who is an American is responsible for the society we have created, and children killing children is not a mark of a civil society,” he said.
The death of his son spurred Khamisa to found the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. The foundation helps empower youths to make positive choices by emphasizing the principles of nonviolence and peacemaking. He befriended the grandfather of his son’s murderer and now the two travel the world representing the foundation.
“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can.That’s one of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.,” Khamisa said.“I’ve listened to everything he said and I like to follow in his footsteps because I fully believe peace is possible.But my path came to peace through forgiveness.
“I’m particularly honored to address you because most of you when you leave Morehouse will become leaders in your community and it’s very important that [you tell the youth to] never ever practice violence,” he said.
As for the child who killed his son, Tony Hicks, Khamisa said the two met in the year 2000.Khamisa said he searched Hicks’ eyes to find a murderer.He found the same sparks of love anyone else would have.He told Hicks that not only did he forgive the young man, but also he would have a job waiting for him with the Foundation when Hicks got out of prison.
Hicks is now a few hours from a degree in child psychology and wrote the forward to Khamisa’s fourth book, Fulfillment to Peace.
“So you can see the power of forgiveness,” Khamisa said.“It worked for me and it worked for my family.What’s a miracle is it worked for him and his family. It can work for you and your family.It can work for the United States of America and indeed it can work for the world.
“Peace is possible,” he added.“How do I know?Because I am at peace.”