By Asif Merchant, New Age Islam
29 July 2016
Dr Abdus Salam Nobel Prize winner
I had the privilege of seeing and hearing Dr. Abdus Salaam during the Indian Science Congress in Bombay. This was in December 1959 or maybe January 1960. I was a graduate student of Physics at that time. I had come across references to papers by Dr. Abdus Salaam, and realized that he was to Science in Pakistan what Dr. Homi Bhabha was to Science in India. All of us were very proud of both these scientists.
Dr. Salaam’s talk was held at one end of the Oval Maidan in front of a packed audience. Both Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Homi Bhabha were present as befitting such an auspicious occasion.
He opened with a very memorable declaration. “Ever since it became known that I was going to India, everyone has told me just one thing: ‘Give the people of India our regards, and tell them that we all desire that both countries should live in peace.’ No one in Pakistan wants war, and I am sure no one in India wants war”. This was twelve and a half years after the bitterness of Partition.
Dr. Salaam was a man of peace, just like Pandit Nehru and Dr. Bhabha, who were sitting before him that night. Some years later, Dr. Abdus Salaam was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, making all of us who had heard him that night feel honoured.
Around then I came to know that Dr. Salaam was an Ahmadiya. Like most mainstream Muslims, I had a negative view of Ahmadiyas even though I knew practically nothing about them. The knowledge that a man of such intellect subscribed to this faith made me take a fresh view.
Dr. Salaam is the only Nobel Laureate in Physics from Pakistan. That he had to leave his country and stay in exile indicates the value placed by the Pakistanis on education. The emphasis placed on education in the Quran, the Holy Prophet’s own exhortation to go to the ends of the earth in the pursuit of knowledge, have all come to naught before the sort of religious values the current lot of Pakistanis are learning.
The purpose of religion is to teach people to live together in peace and understanding. Religion is supposed to help us grow to our potential to the benefit of mankind. As I see it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Regardless of what there is in the religion, if its followers are unable to live together in peace and understanding, if the followers are unable to grow to their potential to the benefit of mankind, the religion has failed in its purpose. The converse is also true, and the success of a religion can be gauged by the followers. From this point of view, the Ahmadiyas are following a good religion.
There is no record of Ahmadiyas attacking places of worship unlike those so-called Muslims who attacked the Ahmadiya places of worship during peak prayer times to cause maximum casualties.
This sort of behaviour is in keeping with the illiteracy-worshiping people who exiled the one scientist who could have been an inspiration for all students. Instead, the Pakistan of today deserves the kind of scientist who has been busy trading nuclear secrets on the sly.
Asif Merchant is an independent thinker, based near Panchgani, Maharashtra, India He writes an occasional column for New Age Islam
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