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‘Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam.’ -Dr. Jitmoud-

Source: Herald Leader


‘Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam.’ Slain pizza driver’s father hugs attacker


Before Trey Alexander Relford was sentenced Tuesday to 31 years in prison for the 2015 stabbing death of a Pizza Hut delivery driver, the victim’s father forgave him during an extraordinary hearing.

Later, Relford and the victim’s father, Abdul-Munim Sombat Jitmoud, hugged as an astonished courtroom audience watched.

“Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam,” the elder Jitmoud said during the hearing, which lasted almost three hours.

Relford, 24, pleaded guilty last month to complicity to murder, complicity to robbery and attempted tampering with evidence in the stabbing death of Salahuddin Jitmoud, 22.

Had Relford been convicted at trial, he could have faced the death penalty.

Jitmoud was Muslim, and his death shook Lexington’s Muslim residents, who feared that it was a hate crime. Police said there was no evidence to suggest that.

Prosecutors, defense attorneys and Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard, who attended the hearing, said it was highly unusual for the family of a slaying victim to extend forgiveness to a defendant.

“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.

Sombat Jitmoud has spent a career as a principal at Islamic schools around the country, including at Lexington Universal Academy on Nicholasville Road. During the hearing, he was called to the witness stand to give a routine victim-impact statement before sentencing.

Jitmoud, who now lives in Thailand, addressed Relford directly and said, “I’m not angry at you.”

“I’m angry at the devil,” he said. “I blame the devil, who misguided you to do such a horrible crime.”

Then, as a transfixed courtoom audience listened, Jitmoud told Relford: “I forgive you on behalf of Salahuddin and his mother.” (Salahuddin’s mother, Jamilah Linda Kay Kolocotronis Jitmoud, died in 2013, before Salahuddin was killed.)

After Jitmoud gave his statement, Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell wiped a tear and called for a break in the hearing.

When the hearing resumed, Relford’s mother, Gail Coote Bird, was called to the witness stand. After giving some history about her son, including his descent into drugs, she directly addressed the Jitmoud family. She acknowledged that the Jitmouds had agreed to a plea deal that allowed her son to avoid a possible death sentence.

“I am deeply sorry for your loss,” Bird said. “I thank you so much for comforting me and my family.”

When asked whether he had a statement to make before sentencing, Relford stood and addressed Jitmoud’s 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.”

Sombat Jitmoud stood, took a step or two toward Relford, and extended his hand to offer a tissue. Then the two shook hands, and before long the handshake became a full-fledged hug. Sobbing members of the Relford and Jitmoud families joined in a brief group hug.

Nevertheless, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathy Phillips said, the forgiveness “doesn’t change responsibility.”

“This defendant still hasn’t accepted responsibility,” Phillips said. She cited evidence that Relford, along with two other men, called pizza delivery restaurants and stalked other delivery drivers before finally targeting Salahuddin Jitmoud for robbery. Relford had downloaded an app so his cellphone number couldn’t be identified, Phillips said. (A Fayette County grand jury didn’t indict the other two men.)

In a pre-sentence report, Relford’s only statement was that “some associates and I drove around making crank phone calls to Pizza Hut. On the second call, someone killed and robbed the guy.”

“This was a premeditated, planned and violent crime,” Phillips said. “His actions, not the drugs, brought him here.”

Relford maintains that others participated with him, but Phillips said the evidence indicated that Relford was the person who killed Jitmoud. “He set up the robbery, he provided the knife, he tampered with the evidence, and he is the one who ate the pizza afterwards,” she said.

Bunnell sentenced Relford to 31 years in prison.

The guilty plea was conditional, so Relford may ask higher courts to review several pretrial rulings that dealt with the admissibility of certain evidence had the case gone to trial.


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Kentucky Muslims to Mark End of Hajj with Prayers, Celebrations

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/28/16) - On Friday, September 1, American Muslims will mark the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers and celebrations at locations around the country. The prayers and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), or "festival of the sacrifice."

Eid ul-Adha, commonly referred to as just “Eid,” commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting "Eid Mubarak" or "blessed Eid." Each year, some two million Muslims, including thousands of American Muslims, go on Hajj.

[NOTE: For actual pilgrims, the rites of Hajj continue for some time after the Eid prayers. Eid al-Fitr, which comes at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, is the other of the two “Eid” holidays Muslims celebrate each year.]


WHEN: Friday, September 1, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: Heritage Hall, 430 W. Vine St., Lexington, KY.  40497


CONTACT: CAIR-Kentucky Executive Director Omar Ghani, 502-338-8578, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., CAIR-Kentucky Chair, Waheeda Muhammad 859-296-0206, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Each year, Muslims from America and many different countries come to the prayers in colorful dress. The prayers themselves are quite visual, with worshipers arranged in neat rows and bowing in prayer in unison. Participants exchange embraces at the conclusion of the prayers.

NOTE: Because this is a religious service, reporters and photographers of both sexes should dress modestly. Photographers should arrive early to get into position for the best shots. Photographers are also advised not to step directly in front of worshipers and to seek permission for close-up shots.



In the Quran, Islam's revealed text, God says:

"Thus We settled Abraham at the site of the House (the Ka’aba) (saying): 'Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My house for those who walk around it, and those who stand there (praying), and those who bow down on their knees in worship. Proclaim the pilgrimage among mankind: they will come to you on foot and on every lean (beast of burden); Let them come from every deep ravine, to bear witness to the advantages they have, and to mention God's name on appointed days." Chapter 22, Verses 26-28

Hajj is one of the "five pillars" of the Islamic faith. (The other pillars include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan.) Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey.

When the main portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims worldwide gather for communal prayers on the first day (September 12) of Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), the second of the two major Muslim holidays.

The obligatory and optional activities of Hajj include:

* Entrance into a state of self-control called "ihram," during which pilgrims are forbidden to harm living creatures, even insects or plants, or raise the voice in anger. The state of ihram is signified (for men) by the wearing of two pieces of unsewn white cloth. This clothing signifies the equality of all before God. No specific clothing is prescribed for female pilgrims.

* Circling ("Tawaf") of the "Ka'aba," the stone building Muslims believe was originally built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. The Ka'aba is viewed as the first sanctuary on earth dedicated to the worship of the One God. It is a symbol of unity for Muslims because all prayers, wherever they are performed, are oriented in the direction of the Ka'aba.

* The "Sa'i," or "hastening" between two small hills near the Ka'aba, to commemorate Hagar's search for water to offer her son Ishmael.

* The "Day of Arafah." Arafah is a mountain and its surrounding empty plain near Mecca. On this day, the climax of the Hajj season, pilgrims assemble for supplication to God.

* The stoning of three pillars representing Satan's temptation of Abraham. The stoning indicates the pilgrim's rejection of evil deeds.

* Cutting the hair to symbolize the completion of Hajj.

* Sacrifice of an animal to help feed the poor, and in remembrance of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. A portion of the meat is distributed to relatives and to the needy.

CAIR urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at:      

The Washington-based civil rights organization recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.

For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here:     

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CAIR-Kentucky Representatives Talk to U.K. Students about Press Coverage of Muslims


CAIR-KY members Dr. Dina Rasheed and Dr. Nadia Rasheed spoke to journalism students at the University of Kentucky on April 24, 2017 on “How to Cover the Muslim Community”. The mother and daughter are members of the newly-formed local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter based in Lexington. Their talk to two UK classes covered common misconceptions about Islam and focused on the commonalities between the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Rasheeds’ told students that a basic objective of the CAIR-KY organization is to build a healthy, strong and accurate relationship between the community and media. Examples of recent news coverage of CAIR-KY’s April 14, 2017 launch by Lexington journalists can be accessed by clicking here.


CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its core mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CAIR KY Sent Representatives to the CAIR National Council meeting 2017


CAIR-KY Member at large, Dina Rasheed, and Civil rights committee chair, Nour Abada, had the privilege of representing CAIR-KY at the 2017 CAIR National Council meeting in Washington, D.C. on April 28th - April 30th 2017. They attended workshops including civil rights, combating islamophobia, and media relations. They participated in discussions on a national level and gained knowledge and connections to help them better serve the central Kentucky community. They wish to participate with other CAIR chapters on National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capital Hill next year. "My favorite part of the weekend was getting the privilege to meet Gold Star father Khizr Khan. He is an inspiration to many of us."- Dina Rasheed. For more information on CAIR National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill click the link below.


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