Friday, December 09, 2005

Quest for Redemption

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Allah accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy: For Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. (Al-Qur'an 4:17)

When those come to thee who believe in Our signs, Say: "Peace be on you: Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Quran 6:53)

Quest for Redemption

By Amani Jabbar-Esa

Human beings are flawed. This fact isn't the revelation of the century. Humans make errors, while Allah is incapable of fault. Allah knows that better than any human being can. This is why Allah gave us laws to govern our lives by. Allah's (God's) laws are clear and without fault, while human laws (just like humans themselves) are imperfect.The death penalty is an example of man’s attempt to punishment those who are believed to have committed heinous crimes. I suppose the rationale behind the death penalty is that those who commit these crimes have no right to live.The problem with the death penalty is that it is by no means evenhanded. More minorities are sentenced to death than whites. Black, Hispanic and Asians are greatly over represented on death row. According to the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, “Since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1980's, 40% of those executed have been African American. Prior to that, over 50% were African American.”[1]

The race and class of the victim also plays a role in whether or not the death penalty is used. The A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition also states that, “While African Americans are six times more likely to be murdered in California than whites, when the victim of a homicide is white, the perpetrator is at least four times more likely to get the death penalty than if the victim is a person of color.”

Additionally, many people are sentenced to deaths who have not committed the crime which they were convicted of. One such example is the case of Earl Washington. In 2000, Earl Washington, who was originally convicted of rape and murder, was granted clemency based on DNA evidence. This was after Washington had spent 16 years in prison.

And, of course, human laws do not take into account that people can, and do, repent and change. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “Allah accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy: For Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. (Al-Qur'an 4:17).” Throughout the Qur’an we are reminded of Allah’s supreme mercy. If a person commits a sin, and later repents with a pure heart, Allah will have mercy on him/her in the hereafter. Allah(swt)’s laws are free of flaws, and they leave room for change in a person’s heart, while man-made laws do not.Stan Tookie Williams is a prime example of a man who may have committed crimes in the past, but has also spent many years of his life attempting to right his many wrongs. In 1971, Williams co-founded the Los Angeles Crips. The Crips are one of the most notorious street gangs in the L.A area.

In 1981, Williams was convicted of murdering four people during two robberies, and was sentenced to death row in San Quentin State Prison. Williams has adamantly declared his innocence since his conviction. There has also been much controversy surrounding the fairness of his trial.

Since his conviction, Stan Williams has worked for years to end gang violence. He has written nine highly-acclaimed children’s books that warn young people about the dangers of gang violence. Williams has also founded organizations, such as Project for Street Peace, that attempt to deter youths from lives of crime. He has been nominated numerous times for the Nobel Peace and Literature prizes. He has written an autobiography, Blue Rage, Black Redemption, which has been nominated for a James Madison Book Award.

However, as I said before, man's laws are flawed. So, the last twenty years of Stan Williams’s life don't matter. What matters is a crime that he may, or may not have, committed nearly twenty-five years ago. Williams will likely be put to death on the evening of December 12, 2005. If I could speak with Stan Williams I would share the above verses of Qur'an with him, and remind him that only Allah (swt) can judge what is in the heart of man. HE accepts our repentance, when man does not.

For more information about Stan Tookie Williams and his clemency hearings visit these resources:


By Amani Jabbar-Esa