A Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh tried his best to teach us, by example, the importance of forgiveness. Unfortunately, it was a lesson many people in Texas and around the country did not want to entertain, much less learn. If anyone has a reason to hate and pray for the damnation of an enemy, it is Rais Bhuiyan, who still wears the scars of a gunshot blast to the face, inflicted by a self-avowed racist. His assailant was Mark Anthony Stroman, who went on a shooting spree in Dallas County shortly after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, targeting Middle Eastern-looking men for revenge. As it turned out, his three victims were South Asians. Stroman shot to death Pakistani native Waqar Hasan on Sept 15, 2001, at his Dallas convenience store. On Sept 21, Stroman entered the service station co-owned by Bhuiyan and asked him, Where are you from? Before Bhuiyan could respond, Stroman shot him in the face and left him for dead. The former Bangladeshi Air Force officer, who had come to this country a year earlier, survived the attack but was blinded in one eye. Thirteen days later, Stroman attempted a robbery at a Mesquite service station, where he killed Vasudev Patel, a native of India. Surveillance tapes in that shooting led to Stromans capture, prosecution and subsequent sentence of death. Stroman, in his writings, said that what he had done was not a crime of hate, but an act of Passion and Patriotism, an act of country and commitment, an act of retribution and recompense. He was so defiant, in fact, that during his trial he shot the finger to the relatives of the victim. Despite Stromans obsessive hatred and his acts of violence, Bhuiyan forgave his would-be killer and fought to save his life, asking the state to commute the death sentence to life without parole. Bhuiyan was joined in his effort by family members of the other victims. When it was apparent that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry would not intervene in delaying or halting Stromans death by the state, Bhuiyan filed suit to try to get a stay of execution. He had requested an opportunity to meet with Stroman in person, and noted he had just learned from prison officials that it would take months of counselling and preparation of both victim and inmate in order for such permission to be granted. Bhuiyans request was denied, although he was able to talk briefly with Stroman by phone. Stroman was executed by lethal injection last week in Huntsville. His victims show of mercy apparently had some affect on the condemned man, causing him to acknowledge that what he had done was wrong. He had made a terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger, he told a new agency reporter Michael Graczyk. From the death chamber, Graczyk wrote, Stroman asked for Gods grace and said hate in the world had to stop. According to the Huffington Post, a couple of weeks ago Stroman told a documentary filmmaker: I received a message that Rais loved me and that is powerful. ... I want to thank him in person for his inspiring act of compassion. He has forgiven the unforgivable and I want to tell him that I have a lot of love and respect him. Bhuiyan said his actions were driven by his faith, which teaches me that saving a life is like saving the entire human race. As much as I despised the actions of Stroman and resent the things he stood for most of his life, I, too, prayed that his life be spared. I make no exceptions when fighting against the barbaric institution of capital punishment. But, as readers often point out to me when I write about this subject, I have not been the victim of such life-shattering crimes. Thats true. Still, Id like to think that I would have the heart of Bhuiyan and family members of other victims who understand the liberating and healing power of forgiveness - the ability of love to conquer hate. It is a lesson that must continue to be taught; a lesson more people must learn. McClatchy