How a little compassion changed a robber

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Values: Compassion, Love, Mercy Views: 8331

Mohammad Sohail received a thank you letter and $50 from the person who tried to rob his store.

Six months ago, a Long Island convenience store owner turned a would-be robbery into an act of compassion. On Wednesday, the shoplifter made amends with a $50 bill and a thank you letter for saving him from a life of crime.

The story began in May 2009, when Mohammad Sohail of Shirley, New York, was closing his Shirley Express convenience store one night. Security camera footage from that evening shows a man wielding a baseball bat barging into the store and demanding money.

Sohail had a rifle ready and quickly aimed it directly in the robber's face, forcing the man to drop the bat and lay on the ground. Unbeknownst to the man, Sohail never loads his gun.

According to Sohail, the man immediately started to plead with him, tearfully saying, "I'm sorry, I have no food. I have no money. My whole family is hungry. Don't call the police. Don't shoot me."

"When I see him starting crying [those] things, I really feel bad for him," said Sohail. "I say, oh man, this is something different."

Sohail made the man pledge never to rob anybody ever again, then gave the man $40 and a loaf bread. Sohail, who is from Pakistan, said the man then wanted to be a Muslim like him, so he recited an Islamic oath and gave the would-be robber the name Nawaz Sharif Zardari.

Sohail went to get some milk, but when he returned the man had fled with the money and food.

Both Mohammad Sohail and Suffolk County Police have no idea who the man is. After the May incident, Sohail explained that he will "absolutely not" be pressing charges, though police are still investigating the case.

Over the past six months, Sohail's story of sympathy and kindness has inspired many across the country.

The Shirley Express store has received numerous letters of admiration.

"No person has ever moved my spirit the way you did. From your biggest admirer," one letter says. "Great men are capable of great acts. You are a great American," another reads.

He has also received several checks with such messages for "a couple hundred dollars" in total, says Sohail. He has made a point to give this money "to the people" by offering free bagels, rolls and coffee in his store every night after 9 o'clock.

But the envelope that arrived on Wednesday came as a surprise. Postmarked November 11 without a return address, it enclosed a $50 bill and a note apparently from the would-be robber.

The typed letter begins, "You change My Life (sic)," and goes on to say that the man is sorry for his actions six months ago.

"At the time I had No money No food on my table No Job, and nothing for my family. I know that it was wrong, but I had know (sic) choice. I needed to feed My family. When You had That gun to my head I was 100% that I was going to die," reads the letter.

The letter says Sohail's acts inspired him to become a "True Muslim" and that his life has changed dramatically.

"I'm very happy that somebody got to change his life," Sohail said. "If he is a maybe criminal, maybe is not anymore. So now he is a good person in this community and I'm very glad for that. He's staying out of trouble, he's not in a jail, he's taking care of his family."

CNN's Mary Snow and Shirley Zilberstein contributed to this report.

  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society  Values: Compassion, Love, Mercy
Views: 8331

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Older Comments:
A good muslim would not kill mankind just for the sake of money. Sohail had done a muslim way of life. To forgive a person whom had made a mistake by attempted robery while he was intense pressure of no money to feed his family. Hopefully his act will indirectly explain to American and the world that Islam is not a religion of terrorist.

Come now, yohan. Have a sense of humour. :D I'm sure wazir did not mean it in a bad way. It is kind of funny on the surface.

Wazir seems to be still confused and wondering why the saintly Muslim Sohail named the would be thief as "Nawaz Sharif Zardari". I think there is strong link to this quick and wise decision in naming the person describing his character... Nawaz Sharif was accused of embezzling national wealth and ousted from Pakistan. Zardari on the other hand is a prestigious president without such blemishes. Man possesses both the natures and becomes pure or defiled by practicing either of the two natures. The man appeared as Nawaz Sharif and changed through confession into Zardari. So a Nawaz Sharif character at one time became Zardari through repentance and change and earned the name. It is biblically correct.

Suhail has done a good job in line with the teachings of our Prophet SAWS. His act of forghiveness and compassion has caused a sea-change in the heart of"might-have-been robber". He felt ashamed and remorseful. he embraced Islam and repaid Sohil his cash and sealed the letter with a promise that he would continue to lead a tue Islamic way of life. alhamdulillah!

Nice story, but did he really have to dub him Nawaz Sharif Zardari? Was that the only name you could come up with at short notice. I know he tried to rob ya, but dude, thats cold. :)

This is what I want American to see: The true Islam and how Muslims really act. If Americans could all act like him what a great country it would be...

It reveals that people become bad under duress and greater duress against their decision to act bad turns them into saints, believers, humainsts, sympathetic. Sohail is a successful Muslim able to enlighten even his deen in true Islamic behavior. If the would be robber had not pleaded, none would sympathise his blood. If his pleadings were not heeded, Sohail would expose the Islam of the imam, not the true Muslim insaan. The whole world is at home with people that practice judgement and mercy in balance...