Muslims and the Nobel Prize Awards

The trend of Muslims not winning Nobel prizes may be changing. Among Muslims, the name that stands out first is of course that of Abdus-Salam. He was a Pakistani Muslim, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. However, how sad that internal squabbles within Islam in Pakistan prevented him from ever really getting the recognition he deserved in the Muslim world.

Arabs have recorded some other names in the Nobel Prize award. In 1999, the Egyptian scientist Ahmed Zewail was awarded the Nobel Chemistry Prize for his work in using laser beams to track chemical reactions, ‘freeze-framing’ their evolution.

In 2005, Mohamad ElBaradei, the Egyptian Director General of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), and the IAEA itself received the Peace Prize for their efforts in preventing nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and for promoting its safe use for peaceful aims. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh received the Peace Prize for his idea of ‘micro-credits’ – mini-loans to help disadvantaged people haul themselves out of poverty.

Abdus Salam, 1979 Nobel Laureate for Physics.

After Salam’s award, the 1988 Nobel Literature Prize went to the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz whose initial literary success in the 1960s and 70s created a new hub of Arabic culture. Eteraz correctly state son his blog that perhaps Muhammad Iqbal was the only other person who came very close to receiving this price (back in the 1940s).

Muslims women have received the Nobel Peace prize as well. Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and founder of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran. On October 10, 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women’s, children’s, and refugee rights. She was the first ever Iranian, and the first Muslim woman to have received the prize.

In 1994 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shared the Peace Prize with Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for their resolute but eventually futile efforts towards resolving the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict.

In the meantime, over one hundred years have gone by, since the Nobel Peace Prize and other Nobel Prizes awards were instituted. But only eight Muslims have received the Nobel prizes. Therefore, the Nobel Prize Committee could think of looking deeper into the Muslim communities in the world and single out many other Muslims for the awards.

There are many more eminent scholars, peace crusaders, people and organizations in the Muslim communities around the globe whose work have touched humanity and advanced the vision of Mr. Alfred Nobel. Citing their names here may be result to mislead accusations of overt subjectivity on the part of this author. So, the members of the Nobel Prize Committee should pick up their responsibilities and look further into the Muslim or Arab communities – many more Muslims or Arabs deserve these so-called prestigious awards.

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