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.