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Abdus Salam (Urdu: عبد السلام) was born on 29 January 1926 in the Sahiwal District of Pakistan. He was a theoretical physicist who, when he shared the 1979 award for his contribution to electroweak unification, became the first Pakistani and Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics. He was famous for his work in theoretical physics and for his discovery of the “God particle” (because its existence is vitally important toward understanding the early evolution of the universe).
During his early education he won scholarships both at home and abroad. In 1946 he was awarded a scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he completed his BA (honors) with a double First in mathematics and physics in 1949. In 1950 he received the Smith’s Prize from Cambridge University for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to physics. He also obtained a PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge; his thesis, published in 1951, contained fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics which had already gained him an international reputation. Salam was a science advisor to the Government of Pakistan from 1960 to 1974, a position from which he played a major and influential role in Pakistan’s science infrastructure. In 1974, Abdus Salam departed from his country, in protest, after the Pakistan Parliament passed a controversial parliamentary bill declaring the Ahmadi denomination as non-Islamic. Praise within Pakistan for Salam, who also guided the early stages of the country’s nuclear program, faded as Muslim fundamentalists gained more power. He belonged to the Ahmadi sect, which had been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view its members as heretics. It was during General Zia-ul-Haq’s oppressive rule when Ahmadis were banned from calling themselves Muslim and building their mosques in the Islamic Republic. Their places of worship were shut down or desecrated by hard-line Islamist with the support of the state.
Even after his death, Salam remained one of the most influential scientists in his country. In 1998, following the country’s nuclear tests, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp, as a part of “Scientists of Pakistan”, to honor the services of Salam.