Give to Guelph | University of Guelph

Tribute Giving - Abdollah (Omid) Payrow Shabani

Omid Payrow Shabani Portrait

Dr. Abdollah (Omid) Payrow Shabani, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph, died in Toronto on December 23, 2023 after a long and debilitating illness. He was 61. His partner Marjan Bateni describes his youth:

Omid came from a war-torn area of Iran, from a middle-class family of educators who had to flee their hometown during the Iran-Iraq war. They had to take refuge in the city of Karaj, north of Tehran, with their house and belongings all gone in the war. When he finished high school, Omid was not allowed to attend university in Iran because he was politically active. All his like-minded friends started mysteriously disappearing or were taken to unknown locations by Iranian authorities, so he fled, moving from country to country, with the threat of death or imprisonment at every corner, doing any possible survival jobs. He drove cabs, washed dishes at restaurants. When Canada finally gave him asylum, he did not speak any English or French. He started learning English by attending ESL classes.

Omid earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Carleton University, and the Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa in 2000. He was a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the New School in 2002, where he studied with Jurgen Habermas, one of the most influential political thinkers of the 20th Century. He came to the University of Guelph in 2003. His first book, Democracy, Power, and Legitimacy: Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas, was published in 2003 by the University of Toronto Press. Many of his publications, including his last article in 2023, concern the political situation in Iran. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in social and political philosophy, ethics, critical theory, and the philosophy of law at the University of Guelph.

Omid leaves behind a legacy of intellectual vigor, resilience, and a profound commitment to democratic ideals. His contributions to political theory, particularly on the political complexities of Iran, will continue to inspire scholars and advocates alike. In the hearts of those who knew him, Omid’s memory will be cherished as a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

To honour Omid’s memory, his family, friends and colleagues have established the Omid Payrow Shabani Memorial Award in Philosophy at the University of Guelph. This $1,000 scholarship will award the top student in the Philosophy course, Theories of Justice. Omid was passionate about philosophy and believed it could help change the world. He wrote and cared deeply about democracy and the role of civil society in bringing about social change, especially in his home country of Iran.

The donation level to achieve our goal is $5,000, which will allow us to create the award and hand it out for the next five years. Any and all donations are welcomed and appreciated. Omid is missed by his colleagues and students and a scholarship in his name will enable his memory to be kept alive while supporting our future philosophers.

To support the scholarship in Omid’s memory, please click the DONATE button at the top of this page. If you have any questions about how to make a gift to the Omid Payrow Shabani Memorial Award in Philosophy or would like to discuss your donation in more detail, please contact Erica Charlesworth, Alumni Advancement Manager, College of Arts, at or 519-827-7856.

Contact Us

  • 50 Stone Road East,
       Guelph, ON, Canada
  • Phone: 519-824-4120
        ext. 56934
  • Email:



  • 50 Stone Road East,
       Guelph, ON, Canada
  • Phone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56934
  • Email:


Alumni Affairs and Development builds lifelong relationships between graduates and the University of Guelph. It advances the University's pursuit of excellence through fundraising, development, and donor relations.