by Aysha Qamar
“Forgiveness is the greatest gift in Islam,” Abdul-Mumin Sombat Jitmoud said during the hearing, which lasted for almost three hours.
The father of a murdered Muslim pizza delivery driver forgave the man who was sentenced to prison for playing a part in his son’s death.
In April 2015, 22-year-old Salahuddin Jitmoud was making one of his last deliveries for the night, as a Pizza Hut delivery driver, when he was stabbed to death and robbed at an apartment complex in Lexington, Kentucky. His body was found in the breezeway of the complex.
Three people were arrested in the crime, but a grand jury chose only to indict Relford. Officials say Relford planned the robbery, although he denied killing Jitmoud.
24-year-old Relford was sentenced to 31 years in prison after pleading guilty to complicity to murder, complicity to robbery, and attempted evidence tampering in the stabbing death of Jitmoud.
During the sentencing earlier this month, Abdul-Munim Sombat Jitmoud hugged the defendant, Trey Alexander Relford, in what he said was the spirit of Islam.
“Islam teaches that God will not be able to forgive” someone until the person who was wronged forgives that person, Jitmoud told reporters. “The door of opportunity for God to forgive him is open. … So, reach out to Him. You have a new chapter of good life coming,” he told Relford in court.
Jitmoud’s father told Relford he forgives him “on behalf of Salahuddin and his mother,” who died two years before her son.
“It’s been two years and seven months of suffering along with many nightmares,” Jitmoud told CNN. “Whatever happens to you is from Allah. Let the believer put their trust in Him.”
Relford himself was in tears from this brave and forgiving motion by Jitmoud.
He replied by apologizing and thanking the father. “I’m sorry about what happened that day,” Relford said, wiping his eyes on the collar of his orange jail uniform. “I do applaud you because it takes a powerful man to know that someone has hurt them and to get up there and say what you just said. I can’t imagine the hurt, the pain. There’s nothing I can do… I thank you for your forgiveness.”
Many were shocked and inspired by Jitmoud’s words in the courtroom.
“Out of something that is so tragic, there is really something beautiful here that is beyond really all of us,” public defender Shannon Brooks-English said.
“It’s a testament to Salahuddin that his family is able to forgive,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathy Phillips.