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‘I forgave my wife’s killer,’ says Christchurch attack survivor Farid Ahmed

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Farid Ahmed met Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney earlier 2020.

Farid Ahmed met Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney in 2020. Source: Facebook/Scott Morrison (ScoMo)


Published 31 March 2021 at 12:26pm
By Shahan Alam, Sikder Taher Ahmad, Ruchika Talwar
Presented by Shahan Alam
Source: SBS

Husna Ahmed's husband pardoned her killer because he believes Islam preaches forgiveness. Farid Ahmed, a homeopath and Islamic preacher from Christchurch, narrates in his book how he draws lessons from the Quran to remain at peace despite witnessing the horror that killed his wife and 50 others.


Published 31 March 2021 at 12:26pm
By Shahan Alam, Sikder Taher Ahmad, Ruchika Talwar
Presented by Shahan Alam
Source: SBS


Highlights
  • Farid Ahmed has written a book on the Christchurch attack in which he lost his wife, Husna Ahmed.
  • In My Wife, The Christchurch Massacre and My Journey to Forgiveness, he says he has forgiven Brenton Tarrant to show Islam preaches forgiveness, peace and love.
  • A translator is eager to translate the book into Tamil, which Mr Ahmed also wants done in Bangla.
In his book Husna's Story - My Wife, The Christchurch Massacre and My Journey to Forgiveness, Farid Ahmed chronicles the courage of his wife, Husna Ahmed, and her contribution to their community.

Mr Ahmed says he has forgiven his wife’s killer.

In his book 'Husna's Story - My Wife, The Christchurch Massacre and My Journey to Forgiveness', Farid Ahmed highlights the courage of his wife Husna Ahmed.
In his book 'Husna's Story - My Wife, The Christchurch Massacre and My Journey to Forgiveness', Farid Ahmed highlights the courage of his wife Husna Ahmed. Source: Farid Ahmed


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Despite witnessing a horrific tragedy, Mr Ahmed wants to show by example how his faith and its philosophy of forgiveness, peace and love can shape mankind. 

On 15 March 2019, an Australian gunman opened fire in two mosques at Christchurch. He killed 51 and left scores injured, for which he has been sentenced for life without parole in New Zealand.

Mr Ahmed, who has been living in New Zealand since 1988, told SBS Bangla what led him to write this book.

Two tourists of Christchurch stand opposite the Al Noor Mosque, they said they were shocked to hear someone had mad terror threats to be carried out there.
Tourists look at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Source: AAP Image/Adam Bradley / SOPA Images/Sipa USA


“I was thinking about how I could bring this to the attention of broader humanity. Since my wife has been martyred in the way of Allah, what can I do to spread this message,” said Mr Farid, who is an Islamic preacher based in Christchurch, New Zealand .

Through this book, Mr Ahmed reflects on his wife’s courage and selfless efforts exhibited on the day she was killed.

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She ensured the safety of other women and children around her before she went to look for her husband who was in a wheelchair. This is when was shot dead.

Mr. Ahmed looked to the Holy Hadith of Prophet Muhammad, a set of traditions from his life from which Muslims draw inspiration or lesson.

A hadith that appealed to Mr Ahmed states that after a person dies, his/her soul can benefit if loved ones do ‘sadaqah’ (charity), distribute knowledge and offer prayers in his/her name.

“I thought, if I write a book, that would mean the distribution of knowledge. And from the royalty of the book’s sale, I can donate money to the ambulance service. It would help the poor, the helpless and the sick,” he reasons.

Family members read the names honouring the people who lost their lives during a service on the two-year anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attack.
Family members read the names honouring the people who lost their lives during a service on the two-year anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attack. Source: AAP


Mr Ahmed also wanted record his experience from that day, another reason why he wrote book.

"I wanted to show that despite the horror and hatred of 15 March 2019, love, peace and harmony should prevail, not hatred or anger," he added.

This perhaps is the overture of Mr Ahmed’s forgiveness, which remains as much a question for himself, as it is for many others.

He again looks to the Quran for answers.

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"I explain in the book that there are three recourses to deal with a killing in Islam: ‘qisas' or the justice system, ‘diyad’ or compensation and 'maghfirah' or forgiveness for the sake of Allah.

"Since Allah has encourages forgiveness, I think I can accept this option. This is a teaching of Islam. The killer hated my family and community, but I would love instead,” says Mr Ahmed.

“I mean, look, Islam is a religion of peace, forgiveness always wins the heart, brings peace. It ceases the continuity of revenge,” he adds.

Two years after the incident, Mr Ahmed's life has changed.

His idea of forgiveness has attracted the attention not only the media, but also of various communities and heads of government. He met Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former US President Donald Trump.

Christchurch massacre aftermath (File Photo)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with members of the Muslim community in Christchurch in the wake of the mass shootings (File Photo). Source: Office of the Prime Minister NZ


He often speaks at seminars on the message of peace, in which he seeks to dispel misconceptions about Islam around the world.

“The biggest change in my life is that my work has increased. My wife and I volunteered at the mosque for about 21 years. Now, I keep getting invitations to speak at different places,” says Mr Ahmed, adding that he receives invitations from non-Muslim communities too.

Ms Ahmed was an important member of the local community. She took classes to help women and educate children.

"They want to understand what is it that Islam teaches that we do not suffer despite our challenges, do not get depressed, do not commit suicide, manage to smile and go to the mosque without fear,” he says.

Miracles continue to save Mr Ahmed’s life.

A woman pauses as she lays flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in central Christchurch (File Photo).
A woman pauses as she lays flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in central Christchurch (File Photo). Source: AP


He recollects an accident that he met with nearly 21 years ago, when a drunk driver ran over him.  

Doctors predicted that he only had a 7 per cent chance of survival. He recovered but has been confined in a wheelchair ever since.

Mr Ahmed is a homeopathic consultant and practices from home. He is a senior leader at Christchurch's Deans Avenue Mosque.

A Tamil-speaking educator has shown interest in translating his book, says Mr Ahmed, who is waiting for to meet the person who can translate to Bangla.

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