37 pages • 1 hour readEboo Patel
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In September of 1998, Patel goes to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. The others Rhodes students, who all speak multiple languages and are confident that they are destined to become global leaders, intimidate him. But he decides that he has to make the most of the opportunity, even if he believes that winning a Rhodes scholarship was a fluke, in his case.
A professor named Geoffrey Walford is Patel’s graduate school supervisor. He tells Patel that the most important thing is that he get a doctorate in something that will hold his interest and connect him to a career he is passionate about. When Patel tells him about his interest in interfaith work, Walford suggests that he explore recent developments in Ismaili religious education.
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Patel visits Azim Nanji, a professor of Islamic studies, who listens as Patel talks about his possible options for a dissertation. Patel has no idea if Islam has its own heroes, poets, writers, and lore. Nanji tells him to make a serious study of Islam and to talk to him whenever he needs help. Patel sees Nanji once a month. Nanji tells him about the poet Rumi. Patel had heard of Rumi, but had not known that he was a Muslim.
By Eboo Patel