Spurious titles

Dear social media sensation,

Why would you share on your personal social media account a poster about a lecture you are giving, in which your are referred to as a Professor, when in fact you are nothing of the kind? Sure, you have a bachelors degree from a prestigious Ivy League university, famous worldwide. True, you have a masters degree from a highly selective private university, held in high esteem. You are indeed a man of erudite learning and intellect, far more brilliant than the rest of us could ever hope to be. That was never in doubt.

But Professor? When you do not even work at institution where such a title might be endowed, after several years teaching and publishing research following a doctoral degree?

Is this what it takes to get ahead and earn the respect of the masses, enabling you to preach and lecture to great audiences across your great nation and beyond? To be sure, it is a tried and tested approach to accelerated fame and fortunes, employed by many before you. Many a part time teacher has passed himself off as a Professor in the past — and here you are in the company of some of the most beloved in our community.

We are a community that loves grandiose titles: ShaykhUstadh, Professor, Doctor, Imam — and I am always amazed how readily the bright young teacher adopts them in front of their followers, when before them there passed great scholars who were utterly self effacing, attributing nothing to themselves, as they knelt in awe of the Lord of all the worlds.

In these days of self-promotion, all around us are those who love to boast of their great learning, dropping the names of their scholars casually into conversation, and in articles published online. Oh how we love to speak of our alma mata, and our associations with the great and good, and our travels in sacred lands. Perhaps all this is a good thing — if it is deserved. But to adopt spurious titles without right?

Better to be self effacing. Insist that the poster erroneously referring to you as Professor be remade, and that great eulogy edited down to its core. Speak not of your great following, of your own making, or of your curriculum vitae lecturing nationwide, or of your vast knowledge, or of your brilliant website translated into multiple languages. Better to acknowledge your insignificance before your Lord and the paucity of your knowledge in the bigger scheme. You and I and all of us are mere nobodies, granted grains of sand or less than that from the knowledge of the vast heavens and earth.

You are not a Professor, and I am not a Shaykh. We are just opinionated souls, granted the ability to construct lucid sentences on a page, backed up by our minuscule knowledge. I hope that the dozen readers who follow my ramblings know not to take anything I write too seriously. When do you intend to tell your now 25,000 followers that you, like me, are a mere nobody, who thinks himself inspired to share his insights with the world? Increasingly, I believe this is mere delusion. Better to take stock sooner rather than later. The higher you climb, the harder the landing: but be sure, you will drop, for God always brings down those who think themselves great and exaggerate their standing in the world.

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