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The Blue & Gray Press | October 18, 2018

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Professor profile


MEDHIStudents rarely think of professors outside of class, nor imagine their work beyond the everyday lecture, but in fact professors do have a history and work beyond just grading papers.

Professor of classics, philosophy and religion Mehdi Aminrazavi has expertise beyond Islam, world religions and Iran. He is also a humanitarian who recently received an award from the Scholars Rescue Fund for helping with the hosting of Leila Asadi.

Aminrazavi was contacted about Leila Asadi. Her life was in danger because she was involved with sex trafficking in Iran and had a general interest in human rights.

“On a personal level, it was very gratifying. Bringing a person whose life was in danger was very positive for me. Mary Washington became a sanctuary and provided a safe haven for her and I’m grateful for that. It was also great to see that students benefited from her expertise. It was the first time that we have sponsored a visiting scholar who is teaching and writing and speaking about human rights and sex trafficking in the Middle East. That was immensely beneficial to our students,” said Aminrazavi.

The Scholars Rescue Fund is an organization based in New York. The organization finds temporary teaching assignments for persecuted scholars and academics that are from countries in turmoil in different parts of the world.

Aminrazavi said he keeps his award on his desk because he likes looking at it.

“It’s a symbol of my humble contribution,” said Aminrazavi. “I’m honored to be a recipient.”

Aminrazavi earned his B.A. in 1979 and M.A. in 1981 in urban planning from the University of Washington and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Temple University in 1989.

“I just knew that I wanted to go to the west and study,” said Aminrazavi.

Aminrazavi routinely teaches courses in philosophy and religion, which usually include various classes on Islam, world religions, introduction to religion, philosophy of religion and medieval philosophy.

If he could create any class to teach, Aminrazavi said he would like to teach a two-semester course on Islam in the West that entails a comprehensive study of Christian and Islamic civilizations. According to Aminrazavi, “there has been a history of corporation between the two and that history often is not mentioned, much less studied.”

Aminrazavi came to UMW as a graduate student. Professor David Cain contacted him about a position for teaching a course on Medieval Islamic Philosophy.

“I came here basically to teach a course as an adjunct. I was a graduate student, almost had finished my Ph.D. so I needed experience. I came here and ended up staying,” said Aminrazavi.