Happy Birthday to Prof. Abdus Salam – the only Nobel Prize winner from #Pakistan. He was also the first Muslim Nobel Prize Winner.

On January 29, much of Pakistan will forget – or refuse to remember – Dr Mohammad Abdus Salam on what would have been his 88th birthday. Let us choose not to be amongst them.

Imagine yourself in Stockholm on December 10, 1979. In different rooms of a grand hotel, nine of the world’s smartest men scramble into black tailcoats and white bowties; preparing to receive Nobel awards from the king of Sweden. In a tenth room, a stocky bearded Pakistani gets into a black sherwani, a white shalwar, a pair of gold embroidered curled khussa shoes, and then struggles to tie a pagri (turban). It’s a skill he was once good at but has now forgotten.

Tying that pagri turns out to be as tricky as the physics he is to be honoured for. A cook from the Pakistan embassy is called to assist, but is not much help. Finally, our physicist does the best he can himself. If you watch the grainy footage of the day, you will see that it was not quite right after all. But he still stands out as the most elegant man in that royal room. At least to my Pakistani eyes he does.

Later that night, as he rose to make a speech, his message was even more explicit. Breaking into Urdu, he says to his hosts: “Pakistan iss key li’ye aap ka buhat mashkur hai” (“Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this”). He goes on, then, to recite from the Holy Quran and derives from that his central message to the gathering: “This in effect is, the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze.”

As one reads Gordon Fraser’s fascinating biography (Cosmic Anger: Abdus Salam-The First Muslim Nobel Scientist; 2008) one realises that it is not just that we have appreciated this man so little, but that we know so little about him.

– Quoted from Salam, Abdus Salam by Dr. Adil Najam.

Further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdus_Salam
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1979/salam-bio.html
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-228553-Salam-Abdus-Salam
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Jan-2014/a-role-model-named-salam
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/19695/we-are-sorry-dr-abdus-salam/