Speech by Umar Nasser
I have found that the more I look into him, the more impressed I am by him, and the deeper my appreciation is for God’s blessings upon him. He is one of the foremost personalities of the Jama’at and insha’Allah a forerunner of many Abdus Salams to come.
Let’s first paint Abdus Salam by the numbers. He was born in Jhang in 1926. While in Jhang college, at the age of 14 he passed his matriculation exam, achieving the highest marks ever recorded. The matric was a huge deal, and the results were eagerly awaited by the entire country. His success here gave a glimpse of his future fame, with his celebrity spreading all over the local town within minutes.
In 1948 he went from Government College, Lahore to Cambridge University on a scholarship. Another student from India had pulled out, and, at the last minute, Abdus Salam’s scholarship application was accepted. As an undergraduate, he got a double firstclass honours in Mathematics and Physics, and received the Smiths Prize an exclusive Cambridge University prize for the best undergrad contribution to physics. Then, for his PhD thesis, he was given a year to solve a huge remaining problem in theoretical physics. He did it in six months, and eventually received another coveted prize for his work the Adams prize. Soon after, in 1951 he returned to Government College, Lahore, where he hoped to revitalise Pakistani science with his newfound knowledge. Sadly, the administration were not interested, leaving Salam with little support, and the job of coaching the football team. After the 1953 riots, Salam left with a heavy heart and came back to the UK to continue his work. In 1957 he came to Imperial College, and set up the Theoretical Physics group.
Salam’s work concerned the four fundamental forces of nature. These are four physical phenomema electromagnetism, weak forces, strong forces, and gravity which physicists
dream of unifying into one elegant solution with which we can more fully understand the universe around us. Salam’s most famous work is the electroweak theory, where he managed to
combine 2 of these forces, into 1, and it was for this reason that he was awarded the nobel prize in 1979. What most people don’t know is that in fact Abdus Salam deserved 2 Nobel prizes in 1956 he wrote a paper which he was discouraged to publish by a supervisor. It turned out his work was absolutely correct, and two american physicists got the nobel prize for it in 1958.
With a brief life outline in place, I want to focus on two aspects of Dr Salam’s life. The first is his unending passion for science. He once said of this:
“We are trying to discover what the Lord thought; of course we miserably fail most of the time, but sometimes there is great satisfaction in seeing a little bit of the truth.” For Salam, his work was deeply intertwined his spirituality, and he repeatedly exhorted Muslims to carry out work into science, saying that over 750 verses of the Holy Qur’an tell believers to study and ponder over nature. He was therefore, at a loss as to why the rest of the Muslim world was either apathetic or actively hostile against this scientific investigation. He then often quoted a verse of the Qur’an