Edinburgh Scotland

Remembering Professor Dabir Tehrani

  • Date / 23 April 2024
  • By / Contributor

Earlier this year, Humanists International received an incredibly generous legacy gift from the late Professor Dabir Tehrani, who was a life supporter of Humanists International and a former trustee of Humanist Society Scotland. 

With permission from Dabir’s family, who were kind enough to share some information with us, we wanted to take a moment to honour Dabir’s memory and to reflect on his life and the values which led him to leave such a thoughtful gift to a cause that was close to his heart. 

Remembering Professor Dabir Tehrani

Dabir TehraniDabir was born in 1932 in Ghazvin, Iran. As a schoolboy, he was inquisitive about religion but soon found his teachers and religious leaders could not provide him with satisfactory, logical answers to many of his questions about God. Dabir went on to study mathematics at Tehran University, followed by petroleum engineering at Birmingham University in the UK. 

Dabir spent much of his career working as a senior engineer and consultant in the oil and petroleum industry. He began his career in Iran in 1957 where he worked for many years. Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, he was appointed as technical advisor to the Government, however, in 1981 he decided to leave Iran for good, to join his family in the Netherlands.

Dabir spent some time working in the Netherlands where he acquired citizenship before moving to Scotland. Alongside his work as an engineer, he began teaching at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

In 1983, Dabir was awarded with the title of Honorary Professor of Heriot-Watt University and in 1991 he began working there full-time. He performed research and supervised students for their MPhil and PhD degrees, publishing more than 170 academic papers in his time there, until he eventually retired in 2017. 

Although Dabir lost faith in religion at an early age, he was a lifelong believer in humanity, honesty, truthfulness and respecting other people’s rights. He was a keen supporter of human rights and the work done at the United Nations. As well as being a life supporter of Humanists International, he also supported Humanist Society Scotland, Humanists UK, the American Humanist Association and the National Secular Society.

Dabir was a devoted husband to his late wife Elly whom he loved and cared for with great compassion and patience until she passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2021. He loved his five grandchildren and made a point of keeping in regular contact with them via Skype as they all live abroad. He was a devoted father to his three daughters, always present to help, reassure and encourage them in any way he could and instilled his values of being good, honest, kind and upright citizens of the world.

I first met Dabir when I worked at Humanist Society Scotland. He was a very kind and generous man; clearly very intelligent, but humble. He always had a positive and encouraging word to inspire people and was a calming and reassuring presence whenever a challenging situation should arise.

In 2017, I left Humanist Society Scotland to take up the role of Chief Executive at Humanists International. Dabir kept in touch and would regularly write to the team here; he followed their work at the United Nations with great interest and would reach out to congratulate them. Whenever we published any major report, we would post a copy to Dabir and would always get a reply to tell us how impressed he was. I cannot express how meaningful these small acts of encouragement were to us. He will be greatly missed.

I didn’t know much about Dabir’s personal life, but having chatted with his family, it seems like he had a long and happy life. During the very small slice of it in which I knew him, he always seemed full of love and optimism. It was a privilege to have known him and a greater privilege still to have been entrusted with his legacy gift, which we will use wisely to support the causes that were closest to his heart.

 Gary McLelland, Chief Executive


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