The truth is that when I heard that you had arranged such a meeting, I didn’t know what I was going to say. In any event, I thank you and truly do not believe myself to be worthy of the kindness and generosity that you have shown me. It is perhaps a grace of God in my favor that He has veiled my shortcomings and flaws, preventing people from seeing me as I really am, showing them my better side.


There is a sentence in the Supplication of Komayl that came to mind when I was seated, “How many of my ugly deeds and sins have you hidden [from the sight of others], O my Lord, and how many virtues of which I was not worthy have you credited me with. You presented me [to others] in a way that they would think well of me.”


In any event, I am very grateful for your having gone to such lengths [on my behalf]. If there has been any useful scientific gains that have resulted from our work during this time, I must say that it was a product of the efforts of each and every one of my friends and colleagues present here, and of the role played by you, my students, in bringing it about. Because if we did anything and attained any result, it was in response to your questions.

I personally did not believe that any special event had taken place in the realm of scientific achievement which would merit your holding this special session. Anyway… (Professor Shahriyari pauses for a moment) I just remembered something. There was this guy who was not good at the protocols and formalities of speech usually employed in formal occasions. He goes to a wake, and is at a loss as to what to say. And so, in departing, he says to the bereaved, “I apologize that he died.” (The sound of the audience’s laughter [is recorded]). Anyway, I apologize for having become a professor and for putting you through such trouble [on my account]. (More laughter).

One of Martyr Shahriyari’s Students

When Professor Shahriyārī became a full professor his friends held a celebratory gathering and asked him to speak a few words. He started his speech with the words “How many of my ugly deeds and sins have you hidden [from the sight of others], O my Lord …”and this had a profound effect on me. He wanted to say, “Do not think that my totality is summed up in these academic degrees and professorships; By no means! I [too] have ugly deeds which my Lord and Cherisher has concealed.”

It is par for the course on such occasions to hear talk of “burning the midnight oil…” and “if it weren’t for the help of my wife…” or “any talents that I might have are but graces of my Lord…” and so on; but Professor Shahriyārī never once talked of his virtues. That was the greatest lesson I learned from him.

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