Mother hugs and forgives teen who killed his son: ‘I can’t hate you’

When Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was walking home with food for himself and his wife, he was shot in the back of the head.

He was an innocent and unwitting victim, according to the authorities.

After two teenagers admitted guilt in separate court hearings and received prison sentences, Rukiye, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, offered to hug the two adolescents.

To help them in become better people, Rukiye intended to pay them frequent visits in jail.

A killing for less than $60

The incident took place on the evening of June 28, 2015, in South Cumminsville, underneath a bridge. Suliman was carrying a bag of groceries as he made his way home from a White Castle.

According to police, there were three robbers. In a security video taken immediately following the shooting, one of them, Javon, age 14, was seen taking cash out of his front jeans pocket.

The 39-year-old Navy veteran, commonly known as “Sam,” was still alive, lying bleeding on the sidewalk. Most likely, he had less than $60 in his wallet.

Javon is seen in the video giving the other two money. One was Valentino Pettis, a 17-year-old. The third individual, who the police suspect to be a male in his 20s, was never charged.

The food was taken with Javon, Valentino, and the third person as they walked down the street.

For more than two years, North Carolina native and devoted Muslim Rukiye has lived with that image of her dying son. She was always in grief.

Rukiye described the moment Suliman, the youngest of her three biological children, passed away at University of Cincinnati Medical Center in an interview at her College Hill home. She was by his bedside, along with other family members. She had his hand in hers.

According to her beliefs, there is no goodbye. So Rukiye said, “Until I see you again.” in a soft voice to her son.

Then she kissed him.

On November 2, more than two years after the incident, Rukiye did something that courtroom veterans claimed they had never seen before.

She approached Javon, who had just confessed to having a hand in the death of her son, and gave him a hug. Rukiye gave Javon’s mom an embrace as well.

She also committed to doing everything in her power to help Javon become a better guy.

“I don’t hate you. I can’t hate you. It’s not our way. Showing rahmah, mercy… that is our way… And you are still a child… His death was already ordained,” she told him. “Maybe the purpose is to save your life.”

The 66-year-old Rukiye said that her son’s killers were kids who had moms just like her.

“Those young men – although they took my son’s life in the manner they did – we need to fight for them. Because they are going to come back out. And they will be older. But if they have no light, then this same disease is going to repeat itself and they are going to take another person’s child’s life and eventually their own,” Rukiye said. “And every mother’s heart must feel this.”

“We have to fight for them to see that there is a better life,” she said, “and then they have to fight to get to where that better life is.”