I do not wish to share with you news of an a recent award or publication. This is not the honor about which I speak, but rather an honor which touches the very core of the heart. Today marks the official last day of classes at the University of Houston, where I teach. I was – more than ever before – moved by my students gratitude and maturity.
- One student was going through hard times and I tried to be there for him (as much as a professor can). One of my students saved his first harvest of homemade honey for me and my family. He wrote me a hand written letter (a rare token in our age of text and e-mail), and noted especially that it would help me with my seasonal allergies.
- At the end of one of my other classes, another student stood up and began reciting a tradition attributed to the Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 148/765):
“Your teacher has the right over you that you should honor him and pay him respect in different assemblies. You should be very attentive to his words. you should not raise your voice above his. if anybody asks him a question, you should not give its reply. You should not converse with others in his presence and you should allow the people to benefit from his knowledge. You should not speak ill of anyone before him. If anybody speaks ill of him in your presence, you should defend him. You should conceal his shortcomings and bring his virtues to light. You should not associate with his enemies and should not dispute with his friends. If you act on these lines the angels of Allah will testify that you have paid attention to him and have acquired knowledge for the sake of Allah and not to attract the attention of the people.”
The past academic year has been especially challenging for me, and I have been struck by great misfortune. My students may think that I have been there for them (and I am), but in truth it is they who are there for me–Thank you all.