Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Eighteen months before his death, Professor Carroll passed by me in the hallway and stopped. “I don’t mean to bother you, but you’re Qasim Rashid, right?”
I turned to see a well-dressed, handsome individual. He wore a suit and a trimmed, graying beard. His piercing blue eyes matched his tie, and his smile was as authentic as they come. “Yes, Professor, I apologize — I’m afraid I don’t know your name.”
“I’m John Carroll,” as he extended his hand, “do you have a minute?”
I was actually running late to a class, but something about him drew me in as I embraced his hand. “Sure.”
He leaned in and paused, taking a deep breath. “I don’t know how to say this, Qasim, but…
A great man once told me that death is not the exception in this world, but the rule. Life, instead, is the exception. Everything dies, and it is only God Almighty Who is ever living. The irony in Professor Carroll’s passing is that when I faced difficulties in law school, he was my “go to” guy to talk these things out. My knee-jerk reaction to learning of his death was to, believe it or not, call him to talk about it. But as God’s plan would have it, that was not to be this time. Indeed, life is not the rule in this world, it is the exception. In the next world, however, life is the rule. And as John also means “ever living,” Professor Carroll should fit right in.
Professor Carroll first reached out to me in September 2010 when an unfortunate person was threatening to burn the Koran. He stopped me in the hallway, only to tell me that as a Christian, he condemned the act. With humility, he asked me not to judge Christians by that person’s actions. It broke my heart then, and it breaks my heart now that he felt the need to have to clarify his religious perspective because of the actions of another. I had no idea who I was getting involved with, but I knew right then I was dealing with someone special. I just had no idea how special.