Sometimes a story comes up that brings back memories from a long time ago that you forgot about. Recently, a story about a professor in the UK who forbade a Christian convert from Islam reminded me about my years in graduate school:
The student, Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani, 33, is an Iranian-born convert from Islam. He will become a Church of England priest in July.
The lecturer is Minlib Dallh, is a research fellow at Regent’s Park College in Oxford.
Ashrafkhorasani, a master’s student in applied theology at Wycliffe Hall, claims the lecturer refused to let him ask critical questions about his description of Islam as a religion of peace and love after Dallh discovered in a mid-seminar coffee break that he was a convert from Islam who had been persecuted in Iran.
Three fellow students have confirmed this version of events, according to the Sunday Times of London.
Ashrafkhorasani said: “The lecture was at best a very poor Islamic apologetic, and at worst academically dishonest and misleading. While the government is rightly concerned about Islamophobia, there is no concern whatsoever for Christianophobia.”
Oxford University said: “All complaints made to the proctors’ office are treated with the utmost seriousness and with the interests of the student paramount.” (source)
I can give you an insight on this story that you will not get in the news because I personally knew Dr. Minlib Dallh as a fellow student when I was a graduate school.
For those who are unfamiliar with my experiences as a graduate student, you can read my story here. I haven’t seen Minlib since 2010, so it has been a long time, and it has been a very long journey from where I started to where I am today.
I only had one class with Minlib in which I regularly saw him that I can remember. We had classes for the most part at different times and as you might guess, we associated with very different people. Nevertheless, the class I did have with him was an advanced Arabic class for reading ancient Islamic manuscripts taught by none other than the infamous Dr. Ingrid Mattson herself. To her credit, however, this was one of the best classes I took in graduate school because in spite of her open disdain for Christianity that she made clear in class, it was a excellent overview of reading and research into classical Islamic texts. This class was for advanced Arabic students only, and required either you to have at least three years experience of Arabic, which was ironic because the school only offered two years in its courses, thus ensuring that practically only Muslims would be able to take the class. I was the exception, since I had started with Arabic while still an undergraduate as part of a special cooperative program with my alma mater. As such, I was in the unique position of being the only non-Muslim in the class with the exception of Minlib who was auditing the course.
There were approximately six (possibly eight) Muslims in the class plus me and when he would come to audit, Minlib. I don’t remember them all, but certain people stand out to me, and ironically many of these same people have been given awarded academic positions at a variety of universities, and I suspect due to their support of Islamic orthodoxy and their derision of Christianity:
Tubanur Yesilhark, now Dr. Tubanur Yesilhark Ozkan. Originally from Turkey and relocated to Germany, she and I did not speak a lot but I have no outwardly violent negative impressions of her. I do however remember in class her talking extensively about Islam in Germany and how she hoped that Islam would come to dominate Germany with an excitement like that which a teenage girl has when meeting a pop music star.
Dr. Emad Hamdeh, now a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey. I remember him well because he sat next to me throughout the entire course. He would always come to class dressed in a white robe with a white kefeyyeh and the full, Islamic beard that you see here. He always had his well-kept Koran with him and was always reading books about Ahmad Ibn Hanbal or Islamic Salafi theology, and when he spoke about these topics he did so with passion. Yet in spite of his passion about Islamic terrorist theology, he never spoke to me throughout the class even though we sat right next to each other. He would frequently glare at me with a look of hatred, scrunching his face in a look of disgust. As such, when I would see him do this I made sure to smile warmly and just start making friendly conversation with him- he never responded, but it would get him to turn away and stop glaring.
Marwa Aly. I have not seen any recent updates on her, but she was as of 2012 the Muslim chaplain of Trinity College and Weselyan University, as well as involved in a wide range of Islamic organizations. She was the woman I alluded to in my article who called me a ‘dirty infidel’ when I first met her in my early time at Hartford Seminary.
Then there was Minlib.
Minlib Dallh is originally from Burkina Faso in Africa. He is (supposed to be) a Dominican Friar who is also a scholar of Islam. I remember him being a friendly person, who frequently had a large smile and a thick accent that was at times difficult to understand. My first impression of him was I though he was Muslim, since he spoke very highly of Islam and did not give at all the impression that he had a religious vocation- I was surprised to learn that he did. I do not even remember him wearing a cross.
Most of my memories in that class were about the Muslims. However, Minlib was so memorable because from what I remember, he openly kowtowed before the Muslim students like a lowly serf supplicating himself before a wealthy baron. They did not respect him at all and openly looked upon him with derision. It was not the words they used. I cannot remember the Muslim students ever directly addressing him or his points of discussion with words, but I remember the looks they gave him and their body language. Dr. Mattson would address Minlib in a cursory manner, but would not carry out any of his questions to further discussion in class.
The impression I had of Minlib was that of a perfect dhimmi, lacking in character and dignity who would not even speak so much as a word in favor of his own faith but would prostrate himself before the Muslims with the hope he might with favor with them through their friendship. He would spend time arguing for the greatness of Mohammed and denying any of the horrors which Islam has clearly brought to countless cultures across the ages while severely critiquing Christianity and even his own Church for standing up against the Muslims, and would not speak too much about Jesus for fear of ‘offending’ the Muslims. His knowledge of Islam, while detailed in certain respects, seemed for the most part very superficial and that which he did know appeared to be the projections of his own imagination for what he wished Islam could be instead of what it actually is. If there was anybody who should not be in a position of academic power, it was him.
It has been seven years since I last saw him, and it appears that my impressions then were more accurate than I thought. It does not surprise me that he was given a professor’s title, since he would be a useful fool that could be used to deceive non-Muslims through his openly heretical views.
And how do I feel about all of this? After all, I am looking at my fellow classmates who have gone on to have successful careers in academia while I have struggled a lot for refusing to kowtow to Islamic orthodoxy when I could have simply given them what they wanted, which is the intellectual submission to Islam.
My answer: I do not regret my decision to hold the positions I have held and I will continue to hold them because my desire is to stand for what is right. Truly, it is better to endure hardship for the sake of pursuing the truth than to submit to evil for the sake of convenience because at the end of the day, the return on what really is investing a little pain results in an eternal dividend of gain.