Of Belief and Tenure; Islam at a Crossroads in the Academy

The Case of Joseph Lumbard at Brandeis

Nearly a decade of hard work toward tenure was gone in an instant.

Tenure processes are always tricky as they happen behind closed doors, and many times the decisions are not understood. Regardless, Professor Joseph Lumbard felt that after many years of work at Brandeis University there may have been no reason he was denied tenure other than being Muslim, even though the university claimed it was for academic reasons.

Lumbard arrived with a sense of optimism in Massachusetts in 2006 to begin his position as a tenure-track professor at Brandeis University, settling down with his family close to the university. But by 2014, he faced an uncertain future and a difficult decision to suddenly move the family overseas.

Lumbard is a scholar focusing on Sufism and Islamic philosophy, author of multiple published books and co-author of The Study Quran, one of the most significant English-language Quranic studies books to date. He was also an assistant professor at Brandeis until he was denied tenure twice in 2014.

Lumbard says he was unjustly denied tenure because he is a “really intellectually committed Muslim” and Brandeis does not want “powerful Muslim voices.” But in an email responding to questions about Lumbard’s case, Susan J. Birren, the dean of Arts and Sciences, denied that Brandeis ever tolerated Islamophobia, noting that the school was established in response to exclusionary practices at elite universities throughout the United States. Brandeis Interim President Lisa Lynch declined to comment, noting that she read Birren’s emailed answers to and had nothing else to add.

Birren and several other Brandeis administration figures and professors declined to comment on Lumbard’s tenure process, citing the confidential nature of applications. However, university documents provided to Lumbard upon his rejection cite several issues with his scholarly work as the reason for his tenure denial; none of the documents cite his religious views as the motivation for his rejection.

Still, Lumbard believes that his tenure rejection was motivated in part by Islamophobia, which he says has been allowed to “fester” at Brandeis, giving some the “impression that [Islamophobia] is a form of discrimination tolerated on our campus.” This claim is reinforced by several of his former students and peers. Journalists and Muslim advocacy groups have also accused the university of tolerating or encouraging Islamophobia on several occasions, most notably when Brandeis offered an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali (which the university later retracted).

The dispute between Lumbard and Brandeis centered on his dissertation on Ahmad al-Ghazali, which has been accepted for publication, as well as The Study Quran, which many reviewers deem to be an intellectual turning point for Islamic studies. Brandeis’ critical evaluation of both pieces of work is in the minority, with the vast majority of outside opinion lauding the projects.

As such, Lumbard says the criticisms of his academic work are misplaced, disingenuous and exemplify serious flaws within the Western academic tradition’s approach to Islam as a whole. He notes that while the rejection has been devastating for his career and personal life, the implications do not bode well for the future of Islamic studies in Western academia.

Lumbard hopes that shedding light on his journey will help draw attention to these academic flaws and empower the Muslim students at Brandeis for whom he feels he didn’t do enough to help.

From Cairo to Boston

Joseph Lumbard

In 2003, Lumbard was living in Cairo with his wife and working at the American University. Although they were happy, they wanted to start a family soon and hoped to settle back in the United States.

He applied at a few schools, particularly those on the East Coast where it would be possible to make day trips to see relatives. Brandeis invited Lumbard for an interview. He flew to Boston, where several faculty members interviewed him, and he came away impressed by the people he met.

Back in Cairo, Lumbard waited for a job offer from Brandeis, and in the interim accepted an offer to be the first interfaith adviser for the king of Jordan. By January 2004, almost immediately after taking the job in Jordan, Brandeis offered him a tenure-track position in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) department. Lumbard was overjoyed and worked with Brandeis to set up a 2006 start date at the university.

As soon as Lumbard joined Brandeis, he realized that the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) program in the NEJS department was in an “abysmal state,” and he was eager to set things in order. “In my first year there,” Lumbard says, “I had students coming to me crying and saying ‘I majored in IMES, and I don’t know anything about Islam and I don’t know any Arabic. What do I do?’ ” Lumbard says he took it upon himself to revamp the program over the next few years.

Dean Birren’s official summary of the department’s evaluation of Lumbard’s first tenure application corroborates this, noting that “almost immediately upon [Lumbard’s] arrival, [he] assumed responsibility for the undergraduate program in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), a program with a history of difficult interpersonal interactions and tension among several strong personalities. Professor Lumbard proceeded to rebuild IMES [and] to strengthen and raise the level of the program.” The summary also noted that the department members who evaluated Lumbard’s service were “unanimous” in considering it to be “extraordinary.”

Lumbard’s contribution to the school was wide-ranging. According to the summary, he completed an extensive amount of administrative work, including:

  • Serving as the chairman and undergrad advising head for IMES
  • Working with the IMES graduate advising head to create a five-year bachelor’s and master’s program in IMES
  • Introducing a Ph.D. track in Arabic and Islamic civilizations
  • Completely revising the IMES curriculum
  • Serving on various hiring committees
  • Working to create a position for a director for Arabic language studies

These changes significantly improved IMES’ academic standing by introducing more refined curriculum, prestigious programs and tracks to attract high-caliber scholars, according to the summary.

One of Lumbard’s former students, Hannah Levinger, who attended Brandeis from 2008 to 2013 and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Islamic studies, attests to Lumbard’s impact. In a 2014 letter advocating for Lumbard to be granted tenure, Levinger wrote, “He put his lifeblood into the Islamic Studies Department and brought it from a floundering major to one with a large and highly committed student body.”

Lumbard’s administrative work went far beyond what was expected of him, according to the summary, and has helped make Brandeis an attractive option for students.

Teaching was also one of Lumbard’s strong suits. According to his tenure statement, he taught seven courses while at the university, mainly focusing on classical Islam. Lumbard also directed seven senior theses, three master’s theses, one master’s project, and was an adviser to two Ph.D. students. The summary noted that, “A number of students wrote to the department on Professor Lumbard’s behalf, praising his role in shaping their careers” and that his students “recommended him for teaching awards.”

Photo 2 (3)

The summary also noted that Lumbard’s teaching evaluations averaged 4.21 to 4.76 out of 5. It mentioned that he did receive some negative comments on evaluations, but that these concerns were heavily outweighed by praise. Levinger, in her letter of support, wrote that, “It is because of his passion, his phenomenal teaching ability, and his expertise that he has so positively affected his students.”

Lumbard’s scholarship, however, was the element that ultimately determined whether he was granted tenure.

In 2008, he received a performance evaluation from his department noting that he needed to have a monograph published to receive tenure, according to the summary. The monograph agreed upon was Lumbard’s planned book on al-Ghazali. Lumbard was also working on a much broader project, one with the potential to shift the nature of Quranic studies entirely. HarperCollins commissioned The Study Quran in 2005 and published it in November 2015. Lumbard says in his tenure statement that he wrote over 330,000 words for the book, which “provides the first translation of the Quran into English prepared by a committee of academics.”

Lumbard says he was confident that between his proposed dissertation and this massive “side project” — which was actually three times the size of the average academic dissertation — he would be able to receive tenure.

However there were other nagging concerns. Over his years of teaching at Brandeis, Lumbard became aware of tension between Muslim students and the general student body and administration. Levinger told The Islamic Monthly that some students didn’t want to take courses with Lumbard because they believed that a Muslim professor could not be trusted to objectively teach them about Islam.

Still, by the time his tenure application was being considered, Lumbard says his academic career seemed to be going well, he had established roots in Massachusetts with his wife and three daughters, and the family had moved into a new home.

The Tenure Process Begins

Lumbard’s tenure process began in February 2013, when Sylvia Fishman, chairwoman of the NEJS department, requested that Lumbard submit his tenure statement and dossier by September 2013. This was the moment Lumbard had been waiting for his whole career. Tenure-track positions, for which a professor is hired with the possibility of tenure down the road, are rare and the competition is intense. Now, all he needed was to be granted tenure in order to allow him to carry out his long-term vision for his family and the financial stability to make it a reality.

In early March, Lumbard received another request, this time that he submit his tenure statement and dossier a month earlier, by August. In April, the deadline was bumped up yet again, to May. These changes significantly reduced the time that Lumbard had to complete his lengthy application — by four months, with little explanation.

Lumbard rushed to complete his dossier and submitted it in early June. “The fact that I was not given proper notification as to when the tenure statement would be due severely hampered my ability to provide a detailed and comprehensive presentation of my scholarly record,” he said.

Graphic 1

Lumbard’s problems continued after he submitted his dossier. Typically, Lumbard says, a tenure applicant will provide the university with a list of potential outside reviewers to evaluate his or her dossier. The school will then review the names provided, trim down the list and select between six and 10 names. Lumbard says his chair told him that his application had over two-dozen reviewers. Tenure committee faculty had looked at the existing outside reviews and tacked on more outside reviewers at their own discretion with little oversight, Lumbard says.

“The people I’ve spoken to, where I’ve described my tenure process with all the outside evaluations, they really look at me like I’ve got three heads, and they’ll go, ‘What?’” Lumbard says.

The Brandeis Faculty Handbook, which outlines the tenure procedure, notes, “The dossier will also include not less than three letters of evaluation from qualified individuals outside the university,” though it does not outline a maximum number of evaluations.

Lumbard also had issues getting his al-Ghazali dissertation accepted for publication by the earlier deadline of his tenure application. He submitted his dissertation to Oxford University Press (OUP) in August 2013. In November, while his tenure application was still under review, Lumbard says he received a negative reader evaluation from Oxford. Lumbard had serious issues with the evaluation, however, and submitted an extensive refutation of the review.

The second reader at Oxford gave Lumbard a positive review, but after receiving the negative one he immediately submitted the dissertation to the State University of New York (SUNY) Press. It was not accepted for publication until March 2014, two months after Brandeis reached a decision on his tenure application.

Tenure is Denied

January 27, 2014, was an average day for Lumbard. He was in his office preparing for his next class when the envelope he’d been waiting for finally arrived: the departmental summary outlining whether he received tenure.

Although Lumbard’s teaching and administrative services were unanimously praised, according to the summary of the departmental report, a majority of the committee decided against tenure due to a lack of consensus on his scholarship, citing three main factors.

The main concern with Lumbard’s application was that his al-Ghazali dissertation had not yet been accepted for publication, a condition that his 2008 performance evaluation stipulated. The summary noted the negative review the monograph received at OUP and said some outside readers felt that the work had “suffered” likely because Lumbard had rushed to submit it. Still, the summary acknowledged that the majority of letters were positive.

The summary also noted concerns with The Study Quran that prevented it from being considered as a project that could earn Lumbard tenure. The report outlined issues with the style and quality of Lumbard’s translations, the supposed lack of contemporary academic critical readings of the text, and that the book “privileges the interpretations of a selection of Islamic commentaries and takes too little account of the work of modern scholars of Quranic studies.” It concluded that the book was too rooted in more “traditional” interpretations of the Quran, and did not work with enough “modern” Western approaches.

The conclusion of the report brought up a critique that, till today, troubles Lumbard and led him to begin believing that he was targeted for being, what he called, an “intellectually committed Muslim.” The summary states that many faculty members “were not convinced that Professor Lumbard’s scholarly work maintained a critical distance.”

The decision dealt Lumbard a serious blow, and he began to discuss the next steps with his wife, who he says was even more upset. “For my wife, it was much more difficult than it was for me,” Lumbard says. “I could respond, and I had something to do. For her it was just like, ‘Ok, great, we’re losing our house.’ ”

But Lumbard remained focused, so in late February he submitted a 27-page reply refuting the evaluation. Lumbard eventually received an email informing him that Dean Birren would convene an ad hoc committee on his application.

The provost, Lisa Lynch, and the Faculty Senate Council appointed a new group of seven faculty members from various departments to the ad hoc committee. They reviewed all submitted materials and made a recommendation to Dean Birren. On May 14, 2014, the dean’s office informed Lumbard that the ad hoc committee was evenly split, and that Birren had decided to reject his application. The provost also wrote a letter to Lumbard a week later supporting Birren’s decision.

Lumbard submitted an appeal to the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities (CFRR) on June 6, noting that the shifting deadline for the tenure application and the list of outside reviewers, who were not vetted by the department chair before the administrator sent them invitations, were significant enough procedural violations to warrant a new tenure process according to the Brandeis Faculty Handbook.

Lumbard had a wide range of concerns with the actual criticisms leveled against him. He believed that the bizarre course of his tenure process would be enough to give him another chance, in which he could then respond to the criticisms with vigor. The CFRR agreed with his concerns, and granted him permission to resubmit his tenure application.

The Second Tenure Process Begins

Lumbard initially felt optimistic about his second tenure application and believed he would have more success with it. In March 2014, he received the outside reviews for his al-Ghazali dissertation from SUNY Press. All three were very positive and strongly recommended publication. SUNY Press accepted the book, which was identical to the one he submitted to OUP months earlier, for publication, so he thought he had overcome the main obstacle he faced in his first tenure process.

Lumbard also had grassroots support, especially from his current and former students. According to the summary of the second departmental report rejecting his tenure application, the school received several letters urging it to grant Lumbard tenure.

“We wrote letters to the Provost,” Levinger writes in an email interview with The Islamic Monthly, “the senior adviser to the provost for faculty, and the assistant provost for academic affairs. By the end of the whole campaign, over 20 students had written letters in support of Professor Lumbard and many others had signed general petition letters.”

Wajida Syed, a former IMES student and Muslim Student Association board member who wrote one of these letters, told The Islamic Monthly that “Lumbard was my teacher, academic advisor, and mentor during my time at Brandeis and beyond. He embodies the true spirit of a teacher — he cared for us as students and as people.”

However, in August 2014, Lumbard’s optimism over his second tenure application received a severe blow. Dean Birren emailed him that his updated application could not mention that his manuscript was accepted for publication at SUNY Press because those reviews had been received in March, two months after the decision on his initial tenure application.

Lumbard says he did not violate tenure application rules by using the additional time he was allotted to alter his al-Ghazali manuscript. The monograph he submitted to SUNY Press was identical to the one he’d submitted to OUP in August 2013. The only difference was that the reviews from SUNY came in later than his original tenure verdict, a problem that he partially attributes to the shifting deadline date.

Lumbard offered to simply quote the SUNY reviews in his second application instead of submitting them in whole, but this was also rejected. Lumbard says this decision was extremely frustrating because he felt that he had met a central tenure requirement, but it wouldn’t be considered.

The End for Lumbard at Brandeis

Lumbard says he received a letter from the dean on October 17, 2014, notifying him that he was denied tenure again, this time with a much clearer majority voting against tenure. The summary of the departmental report noted that “the majority of the NEJS department made their decision mainly on the fact that as of the end of 2013 [Lumbard] had not produced a scholarly monograph.” The summary acknowledged that the book had been accepted by “another publisher,” but said “this happened after the period under review, i.e., through 2013, and therefore was excluded from discussion based on the instructions from President [Frederick] Lawrence.”

Lumbard says he felt like his entire tenure decision rested on an uncharitable technicality. If the school had judged him fairly, he says, they would not have enforced such a harsh interpretation of the tenure process.

But that wasn’t the only reason the department gave for rejecting his tenure application. The department summary said The Study Quran could not be considered as a scholarly project qualifying Lumbard for tenure because he wasn’t its sole author, it did not have a specific methodology, was not the sort of original scholarship typically found in a monograph, and did not critically analyze the Quran. The department argued that Lumbard acted more as an editor on The Study Quran than as someone using his own methodology, a requirement for a dissertation. It also noted a concern with his supposed preference for “classical Islamic scholarship,” stating Lumbard problematically “presents a rather strict dichotomy between ‘Western’ (i.e. modern academic) scholarship and classical Islamic scholarship.”

Caner Dagli, a scholar at College of the Holy Cross who worked on The Study Quran with Lumbard, disputes the NEJS department’s characterization of the work. Dagli told The Islamic Monthly that Lumbard “is a scholar’s scholar. Meticulous, careful, and rigorous.” Dagli adds that, “No single scholar could have produced the Study Quran translation and commentary unless they devoted their entire scholarly career to that project alone. It took a team of us nearly a decade, and we had considerable financial support for graduate assistants to help us. Moreover, plenty of the commentary was in fact written solely by Lumbard.”

Dagli also found the NEJS department’s critiques of The Study Quran to be misguided. “Of course the Study Quran has a methodology; you can read about it in the book and it is crystal clear to anyone who spends time with the text. What they meant is that it doesn’t use the methodology they like, which is a different matter.”

Dagli specifically responds to the notion that The Study Quran didn’t interact with enough “modern” sources, a criticism Lumbard sees as central to his tenure rejection. “The notion that the Study Quran is not critical presumes that ‘critical’ means ‘revisionist’ and that scholarship on Islam is essentially a debunking exercise. It’s astounding that academics can still fail to understand the basic distinction between ‘critical’ in the sense of ‘scholarly’ and ‘critical’ in the sense of ‘undermining,’ ” Dagli says.

The administration at Holy Cross awarded tenure to Dagli with The Study Quran serving as his dissertation project. Dagli says the administration appreciated the enormous scope of the work throughout the entire process and he was recommended unanimously for tenure.  However, it is not unusual for universities to have different requirements and procedures for granting tenure to professors.

Graphic 2

The response to The Study Quran from academics thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.

Author Karen Armstrong wrote, “It should be on the shelves of libraries and universities throughout the English-speaking world.” Asma Afsaruddin, a professor of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington, wrote that The Study Quran is “truly magisterial and the most comprehensive study of the Quran to date.” Jonathan Brown, who holds the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization and is an associate director at the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, said The Study Quran “solves the perennial problem of how to introduce students to the Quranic text, offering what is perhaps the closest one can get to an ecumenical exegesis of the Quran.”

However, the book also generated some backlash, mainly regarding the notion of perennialism purportedly advanced in the work that argues there are supposed universal truths contained in all religions that serve as their foundation. Others have criticized the translations used in the book, something the Brandeis committee also pointed out.

Public reaction has also been positive thus far. On Amazon, The Study Quran has received over 100 reviews, and at press time, has received a rating of well above four out of five stars. The text was also the No. 1 bestseller in the Quran and Theology sections of Amazon.

As such, Dagli says that “in light of everything other scholars in the field of Quranic studies have had to say about the book, the assertions of those Brandeis faculty members look more and more ludicrous by the day.”

A week after Lumbard received Dean Birren’s letter, he sent her a memo outlining why he believed that Brandeis’ summary of his work was problematic. “The second tenure review was clearly jaundiced by the results of the first vote and what transpired in its wake,” Lumbard wrote. “As soon as the CFRR ruled that there had been significant procedural violations in my tenure case, the question was not if my second tenure application would be denied, but how.”

The second application, however, did not go to an ad hoc committee, and the dean sent Lumbard a notice on November 20, 2014, informing him that she had decided to deny his second tenure application. On December 9, 2014, Lisa Lynch, who was provost at the time, confirmed the dean’s decision.

“This is where I think the dean just really failed at her job,” Lumbard tells The Islamic Monthly. “If the first time they were so close, and the second time there was a far more elaborate description of my work, far more detailed, far more scholarly presentation, and they voted against and got a majority, then something is wrong.”

Lumbard filed an appeal with the CFRR on December 17. This time, he contended that, except for his personal statement, his second application was required to be identical to his first one. Lumbard says this means that evaluations based on an application process that the university admitted had procedural flaws could not be discarded, but were in fact used as evidence against him once more.

On January 23, 2015, the university president, Lawrence, sent a letter to Lumbard saying there were no significant procedural flaws in his tenure process.

Lumbard quickly decided that the 2014-2015 academic year at Brandeis would be his last, opting to turn down the chance to be a visiting professor at the institution for another year. He remained at the school until May 2015.

“This year [2015] has been the most difficult year of my adult life, beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Lumbard says. “It’s extremely difficult to go into work. My gut turns in a knot as I drive onto campus. … It’s crushing to go into work every day and see people that you know are trying to get rid of you.”

Lumbard instead began to look for a new job, which proved to be difficult. “In academia, there are a lot of places that tend not to want someone that has been rejected for tenure,” Lumbard says. “So it’s like you now have a stain on your record.”

This stain is pervasive. Drama is not taken well in academia, and Lumbard says it pushed away many schools that may have otherwise been interested in hiring him. While Lumbard saw his struggle as an injustice, he says many potential employers see it as an unnecessary nuisance attached to his name, regardless of his capabilities.

His rejection has also meant that he spent seven years of his life working toward goals now unattainable. He laments the lost prospect of what he could have done had he remained at Brandeis. For example, he says the Ph.D. program in IMES was almost ready to take off, but it now appears to be defunct because no one has filled the role he left behind. This setback particularly upsets Lumbard, who notes that there aren’t many Ph.D. programs in Islamic studies in the United States.

Lumbard also regrets having to drop the range of connections he had with students. “I had two Ph.D. advisees,” he says. “I had undergraduate students with whom I was working, who I probably would have done senior theses with. I had MA students who wanted to do their thesis with me. I was very sorry to not be able to see those things through.”

His former students have also mourned the departure of their favorite professor from Brandeis. Syed writes in her email interview with The Islamic Monthly, “As a scholar of the Qur’an, losing Prof. Lumbard means that students now lack a broader picture of religious and philosophical issues discussed in their IMES and NEJS classes. How can one study the Islamic world without studying Islam!?”

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

Lumbard initially believed that some of the flaws in his tenure application process were due to administrative incompetence, such as the ever-shifting due date for his application. But Dean Birren denied that the tenure process at Brandeis is different in any significant way from other universities, telling The Islamic Monthly that, “The tenure policy and our review processes at Brandeis are thorough, fair and consistent with those at other universities.”

Still, Brandeis has had problems with tenure. A February 3, 2015, article on the tenure process at Brandeis in The Justice, a student publication at the university, states that, “Negative departmental recommendations based on politics and other factors have also had a history of preventing individuals from receiving tenure.” The article cites Jacob Cohen, a tenured professor of American Studies at Brandeis, saying, “No one knows what’s said,” resulting in professors coming up for tenure not knowing what is brought up against them.

Over time, Lumbard began suspecting that something more sinister was at work than administrative incompetence. He now believes that he was denied tenure because some staff did not want Muslims to have academic freedom at Brandeis.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s someone who hates Muslims,” Lumbard says, adding, “I think it’s people who don’t want strong, powerful Muslim voices that affirm the coherency of the tradition, that affirm that we as Muslims have the right and responsibility to draw upon our traditions in how we answer the exigencies of the modern world.”

As evidence, Lumbard points to problems evaluators had with his work on The Study Quran.

“I was actually told by my chair … that I have to say I will be more ‘critical’ in my approach to the material. She told me, ‘You need to approach the Quran more like your colleague Mark Brettler does in his book How to Read the Bible.’ ”

Lumbard notes that the “critical distance” asked of him is the result of a misunderstanding of the interpretative skills needed to approach the Quran. “What it really came down to in my mind is insisting Quranic studies must be in the image and likeness of Biblical studies,” Lumbard says. “They’re completely different texts, and completely different histories.”

Lumbard believes that his decision to root his analysis in non-Western methodology caused problems. “When you’re doing it as a Muslim, you’re citing Muslim men instead of non-Muslim men, and the whole Western academic approach to the Quran is grounded in the writing of non-Muslim scholars,” Lumbard says. “You can really actually boil it down to the fact that I chose to cite and follow the methodology of brown men rather than white men.”

Lumbard believes the problem was not the quality of his work. Instead, he says, it was because he was perceived as the wrong type of Muslim. “If I prayed five times a day, and I fasted for Ramadan, and I didn’t drink beer, and yada yada yada, but I was methodologically more grounded in the methodologies with which they’re more familiar, or more comfortable, then that might be more acceptable to them.”

Instead, Lumbard says, he is a “really intellectually committed Muslim,” and he approached Islam on its own terms, not “simply as an entity to be analyzed and integrated within Western academic systems.” Lumbard says this made him the sort of Muslim whom Brandeis was not interested in, because “they don’t want Muslims to have their own epistemic basis within the academy.”

Levinger, Lumbard’s former student, also believes that Lumbard’s identity may have played a role in his tenure application being rejected. She says that “when students found out midway through the semester that Professor Lumbard was Muslim, they began to question his integrity as a teacher of Islam because he was ‘too close’ to the subject and was maybe ‘trying to make Islam look better than it actually is.’ ” Levinger was also Lumbard’s teaching assistant for his Introduction to Islam course, and she says this was a direct and not uncommon quote from students.

Levinger says she doesn’t think the administration was being intentionally Islamophobic, but that it was hard for Brandeis, a primarily Jewish school, to “truly embrace what pluralism means,” and the administration may have had a tough time having an outspoken Muslim voice on campus.

Dean Birren, meanwhile, told The Islamic Monthly that pluralism is important at Brandeis. “While the university has always been a tremendous draw for Jewish students, [its] founders made a distinctive decision to establish Brandeis as a non-sectarian University, open to students and faculty of tremendous academic talent regardless of race, religion, or background.”

Brandeis and Its Trouble with Muslims

Anti-Muslim bias at Brandeis is not limited to one tenure process, Lumbard states, as he believes that his case occurred “in an institution which has this overall, underlying anti-Islamic atmosphere festering.”

However, Dean Birren rejects the notion that discrimination against Muslims has been tolerated, noting that the university was established in response to exclusionary practices. “From that starting moment [in 1948], the institution has embraced a challenging set of goals. Named for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the university prioritizes inclusion and diversity, as well as free expression and a commitment to social justice.”

Still, Muslim students have faced several discriminatory incidents at Brandeis, one of which became a national scandal.

In late September 2002, students awoke to find “anti-Arab” fliers plastered around campus. The Faculty Senate passed a resolution condemning the fliers, calling them “both a racist attack on the Muslim and Arab populations on campus and as severely divisive to the student body.” An estimated dozen Arabs were attending Brandeis at the time at the undergraduate level.

In November 2003, the head of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, spoke at Brandeis. According to Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, a report published by the Center for American Progress in 2011, Pipes is a “misinformation expert” in the Islamophobia network responsible for generating “false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media.”

Several groups at Brandeis opposed Pipes’ visit. The night before his speech, a protest calling for tolerance was attacked by other students who “threatened tolerance protesters, burned their informative handouts, physically blocked their passage through dormitory hallways and called them various obscenities,” according to a letter to the editor in The Justice. Pipes spoke at the school again in 2007.

In 2006, the Ethics Center on campus screened Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The film argues that Islam is a threat to Western civilization; features Islamophobic speakers such as Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes and Walid Shoebat; and was called “one of the most important movies of our lifetime” by Glenn Beck. Many people derided the film for being so blatantly Islamophobic.

In April 2014, Brandeis screened the film Honor Diaries, for which Ayaan Hirsi Ali was the executive producer and which was also widely criticized as Islamophobic. Lumbard writes in an email statement to university officials on Islamophobia at the school that, “During the screening of the film at Brandeis, there was also extensive security, something that I have not heard of at other showings of the film. The presence of security at such events is a subtle maneuver employed to reinforce the perception that Muslims are inherently violent and that we must therefore be on our guard whenever we discuss Islam.”

Muslim students were also directly targeted by two instances of vandalism at Brandeis, in 2010 and 2014. In 2010, vandals entered the Muslim Students Association office, trashed it, broke several belongings and stole the campus imam’s copy of the Quran. Levinger says “there was no campus-wide outcry, it was mostly just the Muslim students who felt upset” by the incident. But Brandeis chaplains issued a public condemnation of the incident and in an act of solidarity, met at the Muslim prayer area to issue their written statement, which was also signed by then Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz.

In 2014, a sign on the door to the MSA suite was vandalized. Someone had cut the English part of the sign — on which the phrase “Enter here in peace and security” was written in English and in Arabic —from behind its protective Plexiglas. The Muslim chaplain at Brandeis, Imam Talal Eid, communicated with the dean of student life and persuaded school administrators to install a security camera outside the suite. Eid, who is no longer at the school, said in an interview with The Justice in 2014 that he was very proud of the administration’s response, noting that it was very attentive to the needs of Muslim students on campus.

At the time, the university was embroiled in a much larger controversy — the administration was planning to offer an honorary degree to Hirsi Ali. The offer was made March 31, 2014, and was swiftly met with harsh criticism from students and Muslim groups across the United States.

Sarah Fahmy, a senior at Brandeis and member of the MSA at the time, launched an online petition — which received over 6,800 signatures — calling for the university to rescind the offer. Fahmy told Al Jazeera that the move to offer Hirsi Ali a degree was a “slap in the face” to Muslim students. More than 85 faculty members at Brandeis, including Lumbard, also signed a letter making the same demand.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also sent a letter to the president of Brandeis demanding that the offer be dropped, with spokesman Ibrahim Hooper saying, “It is unconscionable that such a prestigious university would honor someone with such openly hateful views.”

On April 8, 2014, the university announced that it had retracted the offer to Hirsi Ali, stating, “She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.” Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University, responded to this announcement by saying, “You would think that someone at Brandeis would have learned to use Google.”

Some people believe that this scandal may have affected Lumbard’s tenure process. Tenured Brandeis English professor Mary Baine Campbell told The Justice “that in the faculty petition against granting Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree … the signees were primarily tenured professors.” She says tenured professors didn’t ask non-tenured professors to sign the petition. “[W]e didn’t want to ask anyone to put themselves in a situation to be punished, although some people voluntarily did, which was very brave of them.”

Lumbard was one of the few non-tenured professors to sign the petition, and he took an active role in the fight to have the honorary degree offer rescinded. Levinger says, “I think Professor Lumbard’s outspoken disapproval of Hirsi Ali’s potential honorary degree upset a few powerful people, and that may have had something to do with his tenure rejection.” Former student Syed also believes that this may have affected Lumbard’s tenure application. Departmental reports outlining the reasons for Lumbard’s tenure rejection did not include any mention of his involvement with this petition.

A month after the Hirsi Ali debacle wrapped up, Levinger decided to organize a letter-writing campaign to support Lumbard’s tenure application because she felt “livid” about the department rejecting his initial tenure application, calling him “an amazing professor.”

Levinger says many Muslim students she was in contact with, however, were afraid to speak out. “The Muslim students who I was in contact with ended up deciding to not write anything for the newspapers. They did not want to have any sort of backlash against them, and given that they would have been the ones enduring any sort of repercussions, I did not push it.” No articles concerning Lumbard’s case were published in Brandeis newspapers, though Muslim students did previously write articles condemning the administration for showing “disrespect” to Muslims on campus in light of the Hirsi Ali incident.

Levinger says she faced backlash over the years due to her involvement in groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, “a group for Jewish kids to talk about the injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians by the state of Israel. … I had Jewish friends tell me that they thought I was a traitor and that hanging out with the Muslims had corrupted me.”

Syed spoke more positively, noting that many fellow students made her feel as though “the Brandeis ideals of social justice and ‘truth unto its innermost parts’ [the motto] are taken seriously” by the community at the school. She did, however, note disappointment with “the fact that the Muslim students needed to raise a ruckus to prevent their institution from awarding an honorary degree in Social Justice to someone who supports terrorizing of Muslims.”

In his email to the administration, Lumbard outlined this sense of Islamophobia some students at Brandeis felt. “There is a feeling among Muslims students that the university did not take these [vandalisms of Muslim spaces] seriously enough to conduct a full investigation,” he writes.

Dean Birren declined to comment on the university’s response to the vandalisms, noting, “As we place a very high value on student privacy, we will not comment on any student disciplinary actions. I can assure you that we strive to build and maintain a supportive atmosphere for all of our campus communities and we respond to any incidents that threaten those communities.” Birren noted that the school has taken several initiatives to ensure Muslim students feel safe on campus, including adding the Muslim prayer space and chaplain position in 2005.

Yet, Lumbard wrote in his email on Islamophobia to administrators, “The actions and inactions of the outgoing administration [the president of Brandeis had resigned at the time] give some the impression that this is a form of discrimination tolerated on our campus.”

Large-Scale Implications for Muslims

Lumbard says the significance of his case extends beyond the university, with implications for Muslims in Western academia at large.

“The academy is still challenged as to how it is going to encounter Islam as Islam, and encounter Islam on its own terms,” he says. “If you look through a philosophy program in any university, they’re not going to have anything except Western philosophy, as if the only people in the world who ever had an idea were white.”

This presents a problem for Muslims, Lumbard says, because “Muslims have to be able to stand as themselves within the academy, not as people who are Islamic but operate through paradigms that they borrowed from outside.”

Lumbard believes that unless this happens, any effort to attain diversity is shallow and barely penetrates the surface of true diversity.

“Without epistemic diversity and inclusion, there’s no real inclusion within the university. You could have people of every possible racial, ethnic or religious background within the university, but if they all represent a similar type of epistemology, you really don’t have diversity.”

The drawbacks to lacking this type of diversity, Lumbard says, are severe because, “The vast majority of scholars in the world who are engaging that topic are going to be Muslims who are doing it through methodologies that are informed by classical Islam, not the Western academic tradition.”

“Does the Western academic tradition want to isolate itself and have its own little mini discourse about Islam that really doesn’t pertain to how Muslims are actually engaging with these materials?” Lumbard asks. “Or do they want to be a part of the larger conversation that is happening among all scholars regarding Islam?”

“That’s a question the academy keeps going back and forth on,” Lumbard says, though he believes that in “the case of Brandeis, they’ve made a very clear decision that they would rather be able to keep Islam over here, as a thing to analyze and look at, but not to be treated as an equal.”

An Uncertain Future for Lumbard

In August 2015, Lumbard accepted a teaching position in the Middle East. Although this was positive news, it was difficult to tell his family.

Despite the difficulties he’s faced since he left Brandeis — uprooting the family and resettling in a new country — Lumbard has been trying to focus on the positives, noting that he admires his new peers, while his kids enjoy the pool near their house. Yet the most encouraging event since the journey to the UAE has undoubtedly been the release of The Study Quran in November 2015.

“Everyone has said that this book just changed the field of Quranic studies. Some people will say it changed it for the worse. Fine, they can say that. But with the scholarship, the point is to bring out something that everyone has to deal with. Then you’ve done your job.”

The reaction to the project has validated Lumbard’s feelings that Brandeis erred in its evaluation of his work, and has emboldened him to speak out about his tenure process after some initial hesitation.

“After the first [tenure rejection] came down, my attitude was that I know what they did, they know what they did, God knows what they did. Alhamdulillah, [praise be to God] that’s good enough for me.” His perspective, however, began to change after the second rejection. “My relationship with Brandeis now is to make sure that people know about this issue,” he says.

Tenure processes are known to be long and arduous at any university, with much of it occurring behind closed doors. Even still, Lumbard’s case of denied tenure raises more questions than answers, and brings to the fore the tenuous relationships other Muslim educators may be having with their own administrations in the current atmosphere of normalized Islamophobia.  It may also offer an important lesson in the conduct of scholars in Islamic Studies programs and the universities they work for.

Some people will remain silent; others like Lumbard will speak out against the bias they feel they face.  “I will quite honestly say that I don’t think I stood up as effectively for the students as I probably should have in my whole time at Brandeis, and now I come to see that my silence didn’t protect me, and my silences aren’t going to protect anybody else going forward. So I might as well just let the whole thing come out, and let the chips fall where they may. I think that justice is probably on my side.”

  • Most Viewed This Week on TIM

  • Latest comments on TIM

  • About the autor
    Davide Mastracci

    Davide Mastracci is an associate editor at The Islamic Monthly. He has contributed to a range of publications including Al Jazeera America, AlterNet, Electronic Intifada and The Globe and Mail. He can be found on Twitter @DavideMastracci.

    Latest at tim

    See our Current issue

    Join our Newsletter

    Enter your e-mail address below to receive periodic updates from The Islamic Monthly.

  • Follow us on

    • Wow, what a great article! Now it all makes sense why Lumbard got a little unorthodox. It was all about the pressure due to tenure.

      So, apparently, the Study Quran was a project for Lumbard to get his tenure at Brandeis. It is possible that Lumbard decided to adopt a perennialist/universalist approach as he knew that he would never ever get tenure if he said Jews would go to Hell in a Jewish school. At the end, even that was not enough to make him un-traditional or unorthodox. But the Study Qur’an didn’t make the tenure committee happy, and they rejected his tenure since Lumbard was too “traditional” according to the committee.

      Also according to the article, Lumbard had Settled in Boston, and bought a house. Not getting tenure meant losing his house (cf. the article). Now ask yourself, how reliable a tafsīr could be if it is written under the pressure of loosing your job and house? This story also proves that the Western academia’s approach to Islam is to undermine it, not to promote or even understand it.

      As an academician and someone who knows the walk, I understand the pressure and sympathize with Lumbard. I pray he goes back to the traditional Islamic scholarship and orthodoxy, renounces any perennialist/universalist belief and save his afterlife.

      • Abdul Keddou

        The Quran is a WAR MANUAL with more text about hating and KILLING Jews than Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Mein_Kampf
        “The amount of anti-Jewish text in Mein Kampf adds up to 7% in total, whilst the largely non-abrograted Medinan verses of the Qur’an contain more than double that amount, standing at almost 17%.”

        No surprise that Boston area has some of the most militant Muslims in America. The mosque where the Tsarnaevs attended was founded and run for several years by an Islamist who has since been convicted of plotting Islamic terrorism and is currently serving a 20+-year sentence in federal prison.

        • Dis Hurts

          wiki islam … really … I’d like to see things from your point of view, but I can’t get my head that far up my ass.

      • brooklynn1

        I think you are wrong to condemn all universalism. At least give it some nuanced re-consideration. There are plenty of Islamic sources and traditions that support a recognition of shared heritage of prophetic revelation to diverse peoples and nations.

      • You know, you sound really silly and petty here brother. I’ve tried to find intellectual answers to the obvious problems of perennialism, and I’ve tried to engage Dr. Lumbard online in doing so. It’s apparently gotten me blocked from The Study Quran Facebook page (for no good reason), but whatever Dr. Lumbard has expressed as his views, they certainly must be. He has shown himself to be a man of integrity. If he has some deficiency in his belief (aqeeda), I pray Allah ﷻ rectifies that for him gently, which is a prayer I say for myself with much higher concern. And we pray that a better path is open for him than what he would have had at Brandeis.

    • St. Hahn

      I believe this professor was one who led the successful effort to deny an honorary degree Brandeis had planned to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali. If this is any indication of his tolerance for the truth and scholarship then I think the university is well served not to have him as a faculty member. Lombard’s notion that Quranic studies cannot be like Biblical studies because “They’re completely different texts, and completely different histories.” requiring people of ‘color’ to do the critiquing not ‘white’ sounds racist to me. Muslims are all races. I would gather the university did not want an Islamic propagandist on the permanent payroll.

      • Hirsi is a known bigot, islamophobe, and monitored for her hate speech by groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center:

        • AnaMorales

          Judgment and critical analysis isn’t bigotry or phobia. And “hate speech” doesn’t mean something you simply don’t want to hear because it’s true. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a joke, look up their funding.

          You’re going to have to learn how to logically argue and defend your ideas one of these days. Lashing out with asinine insults because you’re not smart enough to do so won’t get you anymore.

          • Insults? Much? (mine comment contains zero, yours?)

            • AnaMorales

              Crying bigot, phobia, hate speech are asinine insults. Hate speech is the most ludicrous one, since it’s a defunct legal term you clearly don’t understand.

              And you have nothing else because you lack the ability to actually construct an argument. Nothing I said was insulting, but true. If you had the intelligence to argue, you would. But you don’t. Fact, not insult.

            • Dis Hurts

              And did you come to your idiotic conclusions while drinking too much. Or while you mainlining the substance that obliterated your ability for coherent thought.

        • mark

          Yes muslims are cowardly whores of satan
          Did you pervert to islam for the 300 little boys that wont bleed when yu sodomise them?

          • Dis Hurts

            Suck on our schweddy Muslim balls.

      • Andrew Smith

        Dissenting opinions are not allowed, apparently.

        • AnaMorales

          Right, and then he says citing brown men is what lead him to not getting tenure. It’s because he’s an intellectual fascist with no respect for freedom of thought or conscience.

        • mark

          thats right satan does not allow his muslims to argue against anything he commands them in his crapan

          • Dis Hurts

            All you can do is suck on our schweddy Muslim balls.

    • Abdul Keddou

      Americans have little understanding of how barbarically oppressive Islam is because they’ve never lived as a Christian or other religious minority in a Muslim nation like I have. My family is Coptic Christian and we had to flee our native Egypt because of all the beatings and church burnings we endured.

      Islam is a barbaric religion because Muhammad was a violent warlord who slaughtered “infidels” by the thousands and converted many to Islam BY THE SWORD. Muhammad’s most devout followers follow his barbaric, bloody example.

      There are many peaceful and decent Muslims, but they are peaceful and decent IN
      SPITE OF ISLAM, not because of it. Moderate Muslims do not speak out often against Islamic terrorists because the “radical extremists” know the Quran much better than they do.

      The Quran is a WAR MANUAL with more text about hating and KILLING Jews than Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”:
      “The amount of anti-Jewish text in Mein Kampf adds up to 7% in total, whilst the largely non-abrograted Medinan verses of the Qur’an contain more than double that amount, standing at almost 17%.”

      • You really haven’t contributed anything to this discussion but your own bigotry. If you’ve had a bad experience with some people who happen to be Muslim, they will have to answer for that (the Prophet ﷺ said as much), and I have had bad experiences with people who happen to be Christian. Our Islamic faith doesn’t permit us to cast the bigoted aspersions on non-Muslims that you have cast on us.

        • Andrew Smith

          Yeah, it’s easy to say that while you are getting beaten up or your Church is being blown up, I suppose.

        • AnaMorales

          If you cite any and all criticism of Islam as an ideology as “bigotry” because you’re desperate to shut down the discussion, you won’t get anywhere. Bigotry is prejudgment. That comment contained post judgment based on citation of fact. Muslims need to get used to this, and you need to stop whining.

          He hasn’t had some bad experiences. Millions around the world have had to suffer for 1400 years, including Christians, Bahais, atheists, and Yazidis today. Muhammad said “I have been made victorious through terror.” The Koran contains multiples references to non-Muslims as animals, as deserving of taxes to be humiliated, and as basically worthless.

          I don’t know who you think you’re kidding, but it’s not anybody here. Take your lies elsewhere.

          • Dis Hurts

            Volume 004, Book 052, Hadith Number 220

            Narrated By Abu Huraira : Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand.” Abu Huraira added: Allah’s Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by them).

            Terror here is the fear that Allah has put into the hearts of the disbelievers and not the kind of terror that you want us to assume. You copied this hadith before posting it, so why didn’t you put what is in the brackets? This is what the early commentators of this hadith and the early scholars and the people that knew Prophet Muhammad know what the Prophet meant when he said that.

            • mjm

              so allah is the ultimate terrorists. sounds right.

            • Ali Hussain

              That actually doesn’t sound right. “so allah is the ultimate terrorists.” That is so grammatically incorrect on so many levels it hurts my eyes.

          • Ali Hussain

            It’s not called “criticism” when it’s just a pure lie.

            • AnaMorales

              It’s not pure lie to say your prophet married a 6 year old girl and “consummated” when she was 9 and he was 54. Civilized people today call it child rape, but Muslims still follow his example. You won’t get away with crying “lies” when it’s in Hadith Bukhari and Hadith Muslim. I know the truth hurts, but that’s too bad for you.

        • SoCalMike

          Conformed morons like you dismiss first hand experience with your own 2nd hand uninformed beliefs and rhetoric.
          You and conformed morons like you ARE the problem.

        • mark


          • Dis Hurts

            All you can do is suck on our schweddy Muslim balls.

        • harriet

          no one has any positive experience with muslims when they have power

          • I don’t know, that’s not what the Jews have been saying: “Islam saved Jewry” Says Jewish Leader: http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/68082/so-what-did-muslims-do-jews

            • harriet

              “Jews” have been saying? SO you found ONE JEW……..BIG DEAL

              Islam makes moslams the most backward and illiterate people in the world, the most violent in any society, and the most arrogant and supremacist towards any non muslim….


              If islam is so fabulous why aren;t you in a moslam country? Why waste your time among the kafir?

            • You said “No ONE has a positive experience when Muslims are in power.” So showing one defeats you. And you know there are plenty more.

              You demonstrate arrogance and supremacy and you reflect yourself on to those you hate. You’re seeing yourself in Muslims. That’s fine. But America is my county. Let you leave it if you don’t like it. My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.

            • harriet

              and I am First Nation, Native..


            • I feel sorry for your people. That they have become you. Peace.

            • harriet

              You said “Jews” – so showing ONE make you a LIAR

            • Ali Hussain

              Being among the kafir is not a waste of time. Why I feel that it is my duty to enlighten ignorant people like you who attempt to insult this beautiful faith.

            • mjm

              clearly jews fleeing the inquisition found something better in islamic lands. but in the present day the muslims are clearly the most repressive people on the planet. look at bahai and zoroastrians in iran. the ahmadi in pakistan, the yazidi in iraq. hell just look at what is happening in bangladesh. even morroco is arresting gay guys. the copts in egypt have had 40 plus churches destroyed recently.

            • Ali Hussain

              Ignorant one, it is better if you do not comment at all. What about the Muslims in Rohingya? What about the Muslims, yes I said Muslims being killed by ISIS? What about the Palestinians being persecuted by Israel? What about all the people which the USA has killed by drones (a large portion of which were Muslim)? The list goes on and on…….

          • Dis Hurts

            yes they did

        • mjm

          what? what does wa alaikum mean? didn’t muhammad say to say, ‘same to you’, when insulted or told to die?

          “Our Islamic faith doesn’t permit us to cast the bigoted aspersions on non-Muslims that you have cast on us.” the koran if full of aspersions of none muslims.

          [25.44] Or do you think that most of them do hear or understand? They are nothing but as cattle; nay, they are straying farther off from the path.

          or what of the hadith that says to ‘push them to the narrow side of the road’.

      • أبو ريان

        Ha ha ha … so sad. Wonder how 10% of Egypt’s population is still Coptic Christian practicing their faith after 1400 years of uninterrupted Muslim rule. Take your lies elsewhere.

      • أبو ريان

        Some facts about the battles of Noble Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) – as opposed to the laughable lies spewed by the supposedly oppressed Coptic.

        The number of the Prophet’s battles was 27 while he is reported to have sent out 46 forays and expeditions [Estimate by Ibn al Qayim in Za’ad al Ma’ad] – although no fighting took place in many of them. This covered a period of 10 years – the Medinan Period after enduring without retaliaton the relentless torture against Muslims in Makkah for around 13 years.

        Never in the history of human conflict had any conqueror shed so little blood and was crowned with such a remarkable success. In all these battles, only 1018 persons, Muslims as well as non-Muslims lost their lives.

        Such was the public tranquility and orderliness resulting from the Prophets campaigns, that a rider would go from San’a to Hadramout [in Yemen where continuous tribal warfare was common] without fearing anyone, except Allah and the wolf who might trouble his sheep… [Bukhari Volume 9, Book 85 [ikrah – (saying something under compulsion)], Number 76.]

        Another report says that the women from Qadisiyya [in iraq] went alone on their camels for pilgrimage to Makkah without the least anxiety or fear. [Ibn Hisham, Vol.2, p.581]

        This was a country in which, from the time immemorial, fights and forays, battles between nomadic tribes and raids on one anothers flocks and property had been accepted unquestionably as a part of the desert life. Even the caravans of neighbouring powerful kingdoms [Byzantine Romans, Sassanid Persians] dared not cross the country (of Arabia) in pre-Islamic days without powerful escorts and guides…

        And, how successful were these campaigns of the Prophet can be judged from the fact that within a brief period of ten years, more than a million square miles was won for Islam: the Islamic state expanded at an average rate of some 274 square miles daily at the cost of one martyr a month. [Brig. Gulzar Ahmed, The Battles of the Prophet of Allah, Karachi [1975], p.28].

        This respect for human blood is unequaled in the annals of man. Prophet Muhammad brought the most benefit – with the least amount of casualties. The truth of this assertion is simply borne out if the losses of these campaigns are placed by the side of casualties in the last two world wars… yet none of these two blood-stained wars can be claimed to have done any good to the humanity nor did they solve any problem of the world. The Inquisitions established by the Roman catholic church in the Middle Ages for trial and punishment for heretics is reported to have taken a toll of 12 million lives. [John Devenport, Apology for Muhammad and Qur’an].

        • harriet

          you are simply babbling….just look around you..anyone who is able leaves any muslim country..

          all muslim countries are violent ignorant failures

          get real

          • Dis Hurts

            bull … you need to get real … they only people who are fleeing are the ones from war zones

            • mjm

              “they only people who are fleeing are the ones from war zones” so why do i know a Moroccan? why are there so many pakistanis in america? bangladeshi, although that is becoming a war zone. why are they killing hindus in Bangladesh?


        • mjm

          It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.

      • Ali Hussain

        Mr. Keddou please take your horse manure elsewhere

    • 1e2c3a4w5

      “Show a victim’s face and you will take over”.

      Patience Dr Lumbard.

    • brooklynn1

      Thoughtfully written and important article. In the absence of a whistle blower it would be difficult if the politics of the Brandeis major donor base played a role in this problematic process. In any case large institutions do not always fully comprehend institutional biases ( One small example that jumps to mind can be read about in Mustafa Bayoumi’s chapter on “Yasmin” In “What Does it Feel Like to Be a Problem” but there are others).

      As even the comments to this article demonstrate, Islamophobia is increasingly pervasive in blatant and also subtle forms.

      Norms of critical distance do matter in academia but I am unconvinced that this was the reason for denial of tenure. In general the tenure system should be reformed, as the all or nothing dynamics generated can be needlessly destructive.

      I can see some people deciding not to attend or donate to Brandeis based on this sorry episode.

      • AnaMorales

        Only people who think protecting Islam from criticism is more important than freedom of thought and debate wouldn’t go there. It’s not a “phobia” to provide legitimate criticism, and if that’s the best you can come up, you’re in trouble. How come nobody cries “Christianityphobia” as churches are being destroyed in the Middle East or “atheismphobia” when atheists are hacked to death in public?
        Learn how to argue. Crying “phobia” is ridiculous. It’s not akin to agoraphobia to oppose the shutting down of free debate.

        • brooklynn1

          It would be nice if we could learn how to listen and understand each other and not just argue. “Islamophobia” is an accepted term for anti-Muslim bias, which of course differs from informed critique. Such a critique would stay away from conflation and oversimplification about something as diverse as a world religion and its adherents. There can be no question (in this age of Trump and so much other cheap political rhetoric, not to mention Pew poll results) that anti-Muslim sentiment has increased to an alarming degree.

          Is this to say that Muslims are only victims or that there are not violent attacks against minorities in the name of religious purity? Of course not. Fear of the Other takes many forms, and much education is needed to build mutual understanding in this shifting, globalized world.

          • AnaMorales

            Who said it’s an accepted term? Who accepted it? This is why it’s such a joke. You’re trying to argue that criticism of ideas or an ideology, (that’s Islam) is a whacky phobia (irrational fear). And then you tie to animus towards Muslims as people with “anti-Muslim bias”! That is completely crazy. I don’t buy it.

            You have no proof that “anti-Muslim sentiment,” which you now so quickly switch to (what happened to Islamophobia?), is growing. Check the FBI hate crime statistics. Who are the biggest victims of religiously-motivated hate crimes? It’s not Muslims.

            Don’t believe the agitprop that is pumped out by CAIR or MSNBC. Just because Trump said that Muslim immigration should be temporarily banned after the Paris attacks doesn’t mean that there is a backlash against Muslims. There isn’t. I care about actual crimes, not dirty looks at airports. And check the real Pew polls of what laws Muslims around the world support. That’s what is really scary.

            Don’t try that “the Other” crap with me. This isn’t a low level political science course at some junior college. People don’t like being lied to as bombs are going off all around the world, and they don’t like being shouted down whenever anyone tries to legitimately criticize Islam as an ideology with stupid accusations of phobia or bigotry.

            You tried it here and failed. Don’t try it again. The problem is honest discussion of Islam is prevented and people like you pretend anyone who has criticism of it lacks “education.” Don’t tell me to have mutual understanding in a globalized world. The men enslaving Yazidi women and the rulers of Saudi Arabia who ban churches and put apostates to death need to be told that.

            You’ve been sold a bill of goods and you’re a brainwashed useful idiot. I actually feel sorry for you. Read the Koran and study Muhammad’s life. You wouldn’t say such stupid things if you had already.

            • adc714

              spot on!!

            • mikedatroll

              how are you allowed on loonwatch?

            • adc714

              not sure what you mean? allowed?

            • mikedatroll

              you aren’t blocked, your comments are allowed. it means what it means, that ilisha allows you.

            • adc714

              they don’t like me very much on loon watch but all of my comments have always been allowed …. i didtnt realize that they actually blocked people

            • mikedatroll

              oh yeah.

            • mjm

              wow, you even get so swear at the old lady rey? lol.

              jeykll is hilarious.

            • mikedatroll

              lol. dr1m is funny. i still don’t get how you get away with that? you aren’t a ‘false flag’ loonwatcher, are you? just there to ‘show they allow ‘dissent’?

            • adc714

              haha, no…i can assure you that I’m not on the loonwatch “pay roll”…as far as dr1m, he’s a fucking dick but he does make me laugh in that he claims to be a doctor but doesn’t believe in evolution…and as far as my comments getting posted, idk, they have always allowed just about all of them to be seen

            • mikedatroll
            • El Cid

              He, adc714, is a Hindoo. That is why he is in LW. He also, like you uses the ‘F’ word freely…that Ilisha finds arousing, as you well know. Use of that word made you attractive to her and AJ and perhaps one other person.

              Ilisha is enamored by the Hindoo. Ilisha loves the Hindoo. She has a long history, covert and overt relationships with them and may well be one or became one of them. Because of her, because I liked her, because found her personality extremely attractive – her wit, intellect, passion…a rare combination in any woman – I studied the Hindoo, Hindi intensely. You have no idea what the Hindoo is like. They are one shameless stunted runty bunch, smelly lot. Ugly as shit.

              In any case Loonwatch are a coterie of racist Hindutva brown skins, bigots from India attacking Islam, Muslims, Muhammad and the Qur’an in their subtle, cunning, conniving hypocritical ways:The HindutvaWay.

            • mikedatroll

              i don’t know. padama lakshmi is pretty hot.

            • mjm
            • Dis Hurts

              You have delusions of adequacy. (Walter Kerr)

              But you DO lack education on Islam … and you are a bigot.
              You are not attempting any “honest” discussion. You just want to spew your bigotry.
              You have neither read the Quran nor studied Muhammad’s life

          • harriet

            what YOU call “anti muslim bias” is a rational reaction to the cult known as islam

      • harriet

        who will not donate? The moslams who donate to and fund and build universities all over America?


        • brooklynn1

          I dont think your mockery serves any constructive purpose. Generally speaking Muslims are generous with charitable donations. Many Muslims are in engineering and medical schools and give back as alumni. Though I am not aware of super sized donations to US universities, I am sure they will happen in due course as the community develops. Not long ago the Muslim founder of Chobani yogurt gave 700 million to Syria refugees: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/chobani-founder-pledges-give-wealth-article-1.2240031 and many donations do go for educational programs as well as humanitarian emergencies. Unfortunately the sad state of many Muslim nations means that donations currently tend to go to help others in need overseas. But we humans are all in this together, or should be.

          • harriet

            how to build a ‘muslim’ hospital….probably apply to university as well~


            …..The stronger the Muslim presence in the hospital, the need and facilitation would come by default to make Muslim friendly accommodations. By being a Private entity the Hospital could set its own preferences such as : Proper privacy for women, women/men sections, athan at salah time, halal food would be available in the cafeteria, the hospital could have its own small musallah for prayers. A Muslim Chaplain could be hired.


            A Muslim hospital does not have to be built. We do not need to spend money building a hospital. Hospitals are nothing but businesses. If you have a large number of doctors who are Muslims, you can be part of the Board of Directors. We could also have more and more Muslims to be share holders in the hospital corporations.

            By buying more and more shares of the existing corporation and by more and more of our physicians becoming part of the board of the hospital, in a matter of ten years we could end up taking over already existing hospitals insha’Allah….

            everything islamic is appropriated and claimed FROM other cultures and civilization..pure islamic civilization can be found where it originated….Yemen and Arabia..


    • This seems to be the reality of practicing (Sunni) Muslims at a lot of institutions, especially if your field is Islamic Studies. And Brandeis is probably the least accommodating and most problematic of those institutions. For better or worse, the majority of Dr. Lumbard’s colleagues involved in his tenure process didn’t stand up for him. We ask Allah ﷻ to open better doors for him than what were closed here.

      • AnaMorales

        Yeah, then why did they hire him? Because they’re so “Islamophobic”? You better ask Allah to stop Muslims from blowing up so many other Muslims around the world, that’s a much bigger problem.

        • harriet

          instead of laughing at these people and ridiculing their primitive violent CULT, we take these moslams seriously..

          they are just violent gang members

    • AnaMorales

      He shouldn’t have received tenure. He lacks the ability to engage in analytical discussion, critical thought, and open expression, and he admitted that with his discussion of “non-Western methodology.” What does that mean? He simply repeated lies? These are all non-negotiable values in any worthwhile university. Not just in the West, but in any developed, civilized nation, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, etc.

      If he wasn’t able to do that, and if he demonstrated to the university that he places his personal beliefs above his ability to discuss ideas honestly (shown with his childish response to Ayaan, since children have tantrums instead of engage in debate), then he belongs in Saudi Arabia or Egypt where that nonsense is tolerated. Those universities, and societies, are terrible because of their lack of transparency and critical thought about Islam, and he’ll do well there.

      This isn’t a “phobia” or “racism,” which he quite pathetically and offensively tried to blame. Right, because a liberal university like Brandeis wouldn’t accept “citations from brown men.” What does that mean? He cited men who married multiple 9 year old wives in Arabia in the tenth century? What is he talking about? And he’s a white man! How dare he try citing racism when he lacks rational argument.

      He’s not good enough for an American university, and the reaction to his rejection demonstrates that. He can go play victim in Cairo, and hopefully he won’t get caught up in the next ISIS attack. Bon voyage.

      • Dis Hurts

        “He lacks the ability to engage in analytical discussion” REALLY but yet you lie on here

        “Ayaan” … so she cannot be criticized and one cannot point out her lies

        “universities, and societies, are terrible because” … is this your “educated” opinion?

        “lack of transparency and critical thought about Islam” … NO, you just want to insult

        “arried multiple 9 year old wives” … yet another lie

        YES, it is phobia and racism

    • mark


      • Dis Hurts

        you should not be talking about you female relatives like that

      • AnaMorales

        Does she teach males how to properly beat their wives according to 4:34? I’d love to know, thanks!

        • Dis Hurts

          The Qur’an’s basic stance is that Muslim women are first and foremost Muslims, the religious equals of men (e.g., Q. 33:73). It refers to women and men as one another’s “protectors.” (Q. 9:71). Muslim marriage is described in terms of love and mercy (Q. 7:189; 30:21), and the Qur’an describes spouses as “garments” for one another (Q. 2:187). However, in a number of realms, above all marriage and divorce, Qur’anic rules are differentiated by sex, with men seemingly given greater rights and responsibilities.

          AHMED ALI Surat An-Nisa [verse 34] aka 4:34:
          “Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great.”

          • AnaMorales

            Read 4:34 dear. Nobody buys this anymore, so don’t even try it. Muhammad raped a 9 year old and had 11 wives. He’s nobody’s example.

            • Ali Hussain

              The word which is supposedly being translated to English is not beat. Daraba (to have intercourse, not to beat)
              Raghib points out that daraba metaphorically means to have intercourse, and quotes the expression darab al-fahl an-naqah, ‘the stud camel covered the she-camel,’ which is also quoted by Lisan al-‘Arab. It cannot be taken here to mean ‘to strike them (women).’ Become a speaker of Arabic first. Many times the translation comes out to be something different then what it actually is, so please refrain from saying false statements. May Allah (S.W.T.) Guide You On The Right Path.

            • AnaMorales

              Don’t tell me, Ali. I’m not Muslim. Tell the Arabic-speaking males who read it and enforce it everyday, and have been for 1400 years. Also, I don’t know what your prophet was translating when he hit Aisha in the chest hard enough to cause her pain. There are no gods. Wake up and stop wasting your life.

    • Larry A Singleton

      From Robert Spencer:

      “An article in The Islamic Monthly explains at wrist-slitting length how Muslim professor Joseph Lumbard was denied tenure at Brandeis University because of “Islamophobia” among administrators there.”

      He sure nails it. However, when I get my printer working I’m definitely going to print out and read this screed. It’s why this dumb-ass construction worker routinely silences so-called “educated” “writers” like this Davide Mastracci. I actually study the issues.

      My wake-up call came when I happened to read The Haj by Leon Uris and Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel. Today I’ve got two filing cabinets stuffed with articles and essays and books that go almost from floor to ceiling on the issues of Israel and Islamic terrorism.

      I had no idea what I was in for when I read those books but I’ve got no complaints as I’m one of the few who has bothered to do my due diligence and check out the facts when it comes to AP screeds or “articles” like this.

      Our universities have been utterly destroyed by the left and Muslim who have infiltrated and subverted every level of our education system. And every time I send someone like Davide Mastracci a list like the one below I either get the silent treatment or called names. Or my comments censored, which will probably be what happens here.

      Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future by David Horowitz and Robert Spencer (Booklet)

      Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by David Horowitz

      Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America by Martin Kramer

      Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson (Another book explaining how our universities are totally out of control and taken over by liberal fascists.)

      The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers

      John Cleese: Political Correctness Can Lead to an Orwellian Nightmare.

      The essence of comedy is being critical, says Cleese, and that means causing offense sometimes. But we shouldn’t protect everyone from experiencing negative emotions by enforcing political correctness, he says. Cleese’s latest book is “So, Anyway…”

      George Carlin – Political Correctness is fascism pretending to be Manners

      A solution in search of a problem: the university diversity scam (Prager University/Facebook)

      What is the University Diversity Scam?

      America’s campuses, particularly those in California, spend tens of millions of dollars on administrators and programs to combat issues like sexism, homophobia, and racism on campus. But are these problems in any way prevalent at our universities? Or is this diversity bureaucracy a big waste of money? Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute explains.

      The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukinoff and Jonathan Haidt.

      How Would Orwell Feel About Today’s College Campuses by Amanda Borschel-Dan.

      What University ‘Snowflakes’ Are Really About: A key factor feeding the campus ‘safe space’ culture by Bruce Thornton.

      The SJP’s Hate at Cuny by Ari Lieberman.

      Virginia Tech’s Campaingn Against Charles Murray: A Textbook Case Study of Systemic Corruption in Higher Ed by Jack Kerwick

      Open Letter to the Edinburgh University Student’s Association by Denis MacEoin.

      Evan Sayet: Video Mandatory for all those who wish to understand the thinking of the modern left. If you ever wonder how is it possible that there are people that define themselves “Liberals” but actually support sanctions against Israel, his / her course not alone.

      The Least Free Place in America (Prager University You Tube video)

      Left vs. Right -> How Do We Make Society Better? How do you want to improve America? By focusing on improving and refining yourself? Or by transforming society? The answer to that question will reveal whether you’re on the Left or the Right.

      Wait for the part about “character education”. Which has all but disappeared in American Schools thanks to our “liberal” education system. And this is the result:

      Watch the video “Pioneer Disturb” at Noise Off-org. Scroll down to the stupid looking guy above the screen shot and remember; this is a PROMOTIONAL video! Also, ask yourself why our local police and politicians have allowed these Audio Terrorists to destroy the quality of life in whole communities across America.

    • Larry A Singleton

      People who write screeds like this depend on people who don’t actually read. I usually start my morning off my reading about five or six articles by people like Raymond Ibrahim, Andrew Harrod, Efraim Karsh, Denis MacEoin, Andrew G. Bostom, Frank Gaffney, Martin Kramer, Alan Dershowitz, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Pamella Geller, Patrick Poole, Caroline Glick, Hugh Fitzgerald, Ralph Sidway, Bat Ye’or and others. And eating up as much of an essay as I can like “Elimination of the Jewish National Home in Palestine” by Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Martin Cüppers. Or Palestinians, Arabs and the Holocaust by Joseph Spoerl. Or “A Salient Example of Hajj Amin el-Husseini’s Canonical Islamic Jew-Hatred–Introduction, Text and Commentary” by Andrew G. Bostom,

      Then putting it aside and reading a couple of chapters from books by Andrew Bostom, Robert Wistrich, Bat Ye’or and Ann Mayer, like her Islam and Human Rights. (Hint: It ain’t got any.)

      Hopefully people will forgive my rant below. It’s the end of the month. I’m hungry, as my food ran out last night and for the past three days I couldn’t smoke, so I’m feeling real cranky.

      I’ve worked construction all my life and watched while liberals have destroyed one of the greatest states in the country; California. Under Obama the situation has become a disaster and promises to be an unmitigated catastrophe here in the next few years. Especially when it comes to national security and our military which he has emasculated to the point where our enemies are actively thumbing their noses at us.

      I was a real problem child as a kid but the heroes that put up with this terror in school managed to pass on things related to good character and enforce it sometimes with a little discipline which they don’t teach anymore today. Both discipline and character building are gone from kids educations today so that we have a generation of thugs like these Audio Terrorists in their “boomer cars” whose idea of a good time is to destroy the quality of life and peace and quiet of whole neighborhoods. These are the social predators our “education” system is producing today whose “teachers” like this Joseph Lumbard instruct your kids on the Jew hatred that has become almost fashionable in our universities. What I call the “New Rude” of this new generation of “victims” and the easily offended. Common sense and common decency are attributes in short supply as you can see in this “article”.

      Again; Read Robert Spencer’s article about this screed here:

      Robert Spencer, FP: Brandeis Denies Muslim Prof. Tenure – He Blames ‘Islamophobia’ EXCERPT:

      An article in The Islamic Monthly explains at wrist-slitting length how Muslim professor Joseph Lumbard was denied tenure at Brandeis University because of “Islamophobia” among administrators there. I can’t imagine that anyone beyond Lumbard’s mom would care to read in such detail about his academic fortunes, so I’m not including any lengthy excerpts in this article; this suffices to capture the absurdity of the piece:

      Even still, Lumbard’s case of denied tenure raises more questions than answers, and brings to the fore the tenuous relationships other Muslim educators may be having with their own administrations in the current atmosphere of normalized Islamophobia.

      The idea that there is an “atmosphere of normalized Islamophobia” in academia today is so wildly ludicrous that it raises the question of whether The Islamic Monthly is a parody site; but of course, the author of the piece, Davide Mastracci, is po-faced, aggrieved, and utterly serious. A Muslim professor was denied tenure; what else could it possibly be but “Islamophobia”?

      Well, how about opposition to the freedom speech and freedom of inquiry? Lumbard led the successful effort to intimidate Brandeis into rescinding an honorary degree it had planned to give to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, bringing Brandeis unwelcome international attention as a bastion of political correctness that capitulated to Islamic supremacists.

      Or how about arrogant puffery? Lumbard once promised to “dominate” me in debate, and then, after demonstrating an embarrassing lack of knowledge of how to formulate a debate thesis properly, backed out of the debate. Did Brandeis administrators get wind of this incident and wonder why their boastful, chest-thumping professor didn’t just take on the debate and “dominate” the “ignorant Islamophobe” as he had promised to do? Did they wonder why he lost his nerve on what should have been (as no doubt both he and they would have thought) such an easy challenge?

    • harriet

      Maybe he can find position at an islamic university where his intellectual abilities would be more appreciated….why bother with inferior infidel universities?

      • Dis Hurts

        jealous much?

        • harriet

          Some failed loser who only has a job because of ‘diversity’ ?


    • Boogur T. Wang
      • Dis Hurts

        fron page mag … ha ha ha REALLY … I’d like to see things from your point of view, but I can’t get my head that far up my ass.

    • O. Locke

      his denial had ZERO to do with being a moslem and everything to do with him not deserving to be tenured.

      moslems always scream at the top of their lungs they didn’t get something when allah did not ordain for them to have it.

      not sure why they can’t accept allah’s decree.