28 min

The Volunteer The Experiment

    • Documentary

Was anybody willing to be a spiritual adviser to Orlando Hall, a Muslim man on death row with a fast-approaching execution date? That’s the question that went out by email to a local group of interfaith leaders in Indiana. Nobody answered. 

After a week without responses, the management professor Yusuf Ahmed Nur stepped forward. A Somali immigrant who volunteered at his local mosque, Nur would counsel Hall in the weeks leading up to his execution. But Nur never expected to stand beside Hall in the execution chamber as he was put to death.

“That’s when it hit me,” Nur says. “You feel like you’re complicit, that you are cooperating with the system. They assign you a role to play in this execution.”

This week on The Experiment: One man finds himself at the center of our legal system, and witnesses what gets sacrificed in the pursuit of justice.

Further reading: “Trump Is Putting the Machinery of Death Into Overdrive”


Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

This episode was produced by Alvin Melathe, Gabrielle Berbey, and Julia Longoria, with editing by Matt Collette and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by William Brennan. Sound design by David Herman. Special thanks to Katie Bishop and Najib Aminy.


Music by water feature (“double blessing ii”), Keyboard (“Being There,” “More Shingles,” “My Atelier,” “Small Island”), and Parish Council (“Heatherside Stores”) provided by Tasty Morsels.

Was anybody willing to be a spiritual adviser to Orlando Hall, a Muslim man on death row with a fast-approaching execution date? That’s the question that went out by email to a local group of interfaith leaders in Indiana. Nobody answered. 

After a week without responses, the management professor Yusuf Ahmed Nur stepped forward. A Somali immigrant who volunteered at his local mosque, Nur would counsel Hall in the weeks leading up to his execution. But Nur never expected to stand beside Hall in the execution chamber as he was put to death.

“That’s when it hit me,” Nur says. “You feel like you’re complicit, that you are cooperating with the system. They assign you a role to play in this execution.”

This week on The Experiment: One man finds himself at the center of our legal system, and witnesses what gets sacrificed in the pursuit of justice.

Further reading: “Trump Is Putting the Machinery of Death Into Overdrive”


Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

This episode was produced by Alvin Melathe, Gabrielle Berbey, and Julia Longoria, with editing by Matt Collette and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by William Brennan. Sound design by David Herman. Special thanks to Katie Bishop and Najib Aminy.


Music by water feature (“double blessing ii”), Keyboard (“Being There,” “More Shingles,” “My Atelier,” “Small Island”), and Parish Council (“Heatherside Stores”) provided by Tasty Morsels.

28 min

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