Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

March 11, 2011

Abdus Salam was not an “orthodox” Muslim

Filed under: Abdus Salam,Religion — Razib Khan @ 3:48 pm


I was just listening to Freeman Dyson on Econtalk. Dyson was asserting that there need be no necessary conflict between being religious and being a scientist. I agree with that point. But, Dyson entered into the record that the Nobel Prize winning physicist Abdus Salam was an “orthodox Muslim.” He was not. He was a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Ahmadiyya certainly consider themselves faithful Muslims, but they are not considered “orthodox” by the Islamic majority. I put “orthodox” in quotes because as an atheist the given orthodoxy of a religion is mostly a matter of majority-rule for me, and matters in a deep fundamental manner as much as whether the D.H. detracts from the purity of baseball. But obviously the religiously devout don’t view it as such. The Ahmadiyya have been persecuted in Pakistan for their deviation from normative Islam. Abdus Salam himself left Pakistan after the parliament of that nation declared Ahmaddiya non-Muslims. The persecution expresses itself in violent forms obviously, but also is so petty as to enjoin that the Ahmaddiya mosques not be referred to as mosques.

I simply want to reiterate this because Abdus Salam’s accomplishment is often held up by non-Muslims as a glittering accomplishment of the Dar-ul-Islam in the area of modern science. That’s a valid assertion, as Salam is a product of Muslim and Indian civilization. But I think it is important to observe that Muslim civilization in the form of the Pakistani nation-state implicitly declaimed his association with Islam by declaring the Ahmadiyya unbelievers.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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