On January 21st, 1995, 20-year-old Tariq Khamisa, a student at San Diego State University, was out delivering a pizza, when a gang tried to rob him. Things escalated, and at the urging of an older gang member, 14-year-old Tony Hicks shot and killed Tariq.

Tariq Khamisa as a high school senior. Courtesy of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation.

Tony became the youngest person in California to be charged as an adult, and spent the majority of his sentence at maximum-security prisons.

As the Khamisa family was grieving, Tariq’s father, Azim, leaned on his spiritual practice as a Sufi Muslim. 

In 2000, five years after Tariq’s death, Azim went to Folsom State Prison to meet Tony for the first time (you can hear them in conversation here). 15 years later, Tariq’s older sister, Tasreen, did the same. The friendships forged between the Khamisa family and Tony directly contributed to Tony’s release from prison in 2019.

To hear more from the Khamisa family and Tony, check out this episode of the StoryCorps podcast.

Top Photo: Tasreen Khamisa and Tony Hicks. Courtesy of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired March 5th, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.