Well-known Islamic apologist Reza Aslan, who can be seen on MSNBC, CNN and other mainstream media networks blaming atheists for violence against Muslims and claiming that religion has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, happens to be a giant fraud.
Aslan regularly bills himself as a professor of religion and claims to have a Ph.D. in history and Western religions. This could not be further from the truth.
In an expose on the apologist published by FrontPage Magazine:
In actuality, Reza Aslan is not a “professor of religion,” and what he claims he does “for a living” is an outrageous inaccuracy. Reza Aslan is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside. He teaches there based on his Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from Iowa, his relevant academic credential.
And when it comes to his Ph.D. in history?
Reza Aslan received his PhD in sociology – not “History of Religions” – from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009.
Aslan’s credibility, what little he had, is now shot. His arguments are fallacious at best, and downright dishonest. And now it turns out, he is just as dishonest about his own life as he is about the religion he defends to the core.
Now to be clear, I despise everything about FrontPage Magazine, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. I am not saying here that Aslan’s credentials are not impressive or that you must have specific credentials to defend or criticize religion (in fact, it’s Aslan who makes this claim often). But with such impressive credentials on their own, why lie about them? Why make them something they are not.
His academic credentials are clearly not what he says they are. This makes him a liar.
But not everyone agrees with this and many of Aslan’s supporters have come to his defense.
Fellow Patheos blogger Matthew Facciani has defended Aslan’s credentials saying:
Reza Aslan has a B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, an M.T.S in Theological Studies from Harvard; an M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and received his Ph.D in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Now a few atheists (and even Glenn Beck) have pointed out that his PhD is in sociology and not in religion. Therefore, he must be lying and is a fraud! Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Academia is weird and sometimes the name on your degree does not match up with your expertise. What really matters is what area your research is in (i.e. your dissertation).
And while Facciani is correct, Aslan does have these degrees, this is not what Aslan tells the public. He clearly states he is a professor of religion, not that he once was, and he says time and time again he has a Ph.D. in the history of western religion, which he does not.
He lies and conflates his credentials to be something they are not. Why not just stand by the credentials you have?
No matter how you slice it, Aslan is misleading people about his credentials.
And the reality is, all of this would be meaningless if Aslan didn’t tout his credentials each and every time someone pointed a camera at him or anytime someone questioned his defense of Islam or statistics about female genital mutilation or women’s rights under Islamic law.
The fact he uses his “credentials” to act as though he is above criticism means his credentials are worth discussing.
Unfortunately for him, he should have been more honest.
[Image: Roanoke College / WikiMedia]