Contributions of Muslim Scientists to
by Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
The Washington Post on June 2, ran an article,
which citing Pentagon sources, claimed that India had decided to move its
indigenously-developed Prithvi medium-range ballistic missile to
Jalandhar near its border with Pakistan. The missile could easily strike targets
well into the Pakistani heartland if it has actually been deployed at Jalandhar.
As a retaliatory measure, Pakistan would feel compelled to install its own M-11
missiles at appropriate locations. Before long the two adversaries, could
willy-nilly become involved in a financially costly and strategically
Many will be surprised to know that the Indian
Missiles were developed by a Muslim Indian Scientist. The following is a very
brief account of some of the Muslim Scientists chosen randomly and their
contribution to science and medicine in India. The author regrets that many well
deserving Muslim Scientists have not been included in this article, however it
is unintentional or lack of information on them. The Embassy of India in
Washington, D.C. could not render any help to the author in this regard.
Dr. A.P.J. Abul Kalam - India's Missile
Dr. Arvul Pakir Jainulabedin Abul Kalam,
popularly known as Dr. A.P.J. Abul Kalam, caught national and international
attention as "India's Missile Man" with the successful launching of 'Agni'
Chandipur(Orissa) on May 22, 1989.
Born in 1931 at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Abul
Kalam is a DMIT (Diploma from the Madras Institute of Technology) in Aero
Engineering. He was awarded a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree (Honoris Causa).
He was Director-in-charge of ASL-V mission at Indian Space Research Organization
(ISRO) before becoming the Director of the Defense Research and Development
Laboratory (DRDL) which is located in Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh. He is a
Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Abul Kalam is the brain behind "Agni"; the
indigenously developed 17 meter long and 75 ton multiple stage missile with a
payload of 1000 kg (kilogram). Its range is anywhere between 1600 km
(kilometers) to 2500 km. He was assisted by a 400-strong team of scientists.
Due to his team's efforts, India overcame the
stipulations made by the seven Western Countries' Missile Technology Control
Regime (MTCR) to deny missile technology to the third world countries.
According to the eminent space scientist, "our
indigenous missile technology is comparable to the best in the East or the West
with its re-entry technology guidance and control technology with on-board
Dr. APJ Abul Kalam, who hails from Tamil Nadu, worked
on projects such as 'Prithvi', etc. at the DRDL in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
For his contributions to India's Missile Program and the successful detonation
of Nuclear Weapons in May 1998, he was appointed as Advisor to the Defense
Minister and subsequently awarded "Bharat Ratna" the highest civilian award by
the Government of India.
Dr. Israr Ahmed - Physicist
Dr. Israr Ahmed, Director, Center for Promotion of
Science, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, is a distinguished scientist.
He is considered an authority on Theoretical Nuclear Physics and Quantum
Scattering Theory. Besides, he edits the AMU's Urdu monthly 'Tahzibul Akhlaq'
and Hindi monthly 'Nishant' since 1986.
Born on December 19, 1940, Dr. Israr Ahmed, is the
son of Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed. After his graduation from Gorakhpur University in
1959, he pursued his post-graduation studies and earned a Ph.D. in Physics from
AMU. He joined the AMU as a Lecturer in 1961. Since 1984 he is serving the
Physics department as its Chairman.
His 48 research papers have so far been published in
the international journals. A number of research scholars have been awarded
M.Phil and Ph.D. under his supervision.
Dr. Israr Ahmed is an associate member of the
International Center for Theoretical Physics located in Trieste (Italy) headed
by the late Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam. He is a member of the New York
Academy of Sciences and as well as the Indian Physics Association.
He organized a conference on 'Religious Seminarae
and Science Education' on March 26-28, 1987 and DAE (Department of Atomic
Energy) Symposium on Nuclear Physics December 26-31, 1989 at the AMU, Aligarh.
He also conducted several introductory science courses for the teachers of
Muslim religious seminaries. Besides, he is also a science fiction writer in
Hindi, Urdu, and English.
M. Ahmed - Founder of 'Cardinal Geometry'
Mr. M. Ahmed, IAS (Indian Administrative Service)
officer, is the author of a Calendar for all years from 45 B.C. to 1999 A.D. and
an abridged version of it for 250 years.
He can tell in few seconds the day one was born, if
he puts before him his date of birth. He has evolved new concepts in
Mathematics, popularly known as 'Cardinal Geometry.'
It is a new type of Geometry, which deals with the
Mathematical Curves, surfaces and coordinates. He has also written a treatise on
He was born to Mr. Abdul Muthalib Rawther on November
2, 1941 at Adder (Kerala). Mr. Ahmed was the first rank holder in the University
of Kerala in both B.Sc. (1961) and M.Sc. (1963) examinations in Mathematics.
After a year as a lecturer in Mathematics in
different colleges, he joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1965.
He was the Collector of Madras, Member-Secretary, Madras Metropolitan
Development Authority, Secretary to the Government, Chairman and Managing
Director of the Tamil Nadu Warehousing Corporation and is now Vice Chairman,
Madras Metropolitan Development Authority. Recently he has been elevated to the
grade of Special Commissioner.
In spite of his busy schedule as an administrator,
Mr. Ahmed spends some time in academic work and has made a significant
contribution to the Mathematics by evolving new principles.
The Cardinal Geometry is an innovative concept in
Geometry, developed by Mr. Ahmed, enabling the creation and study of many
symmetric mathematical curves and surfaces. The classical geometry knows only a
few symmetric curves and surfaces like the circle, ellipse, parabola, hyperbola,
cardioid, limacon, lemniscafe, curves of Cassini etc., and some of their
surfaces of revolution. Besides these curves, many lemniscafes, blimps,
crescents etc. have been generated by him.
According to Mr. Ahmed, the Cardinal Geometry theory
could possibly be extended to the study of magnetism, motion of particles and
bodies. It would have both theoretical and practical use in Engineering and
Dr. S.Z. Qasim - Antarctica Hero
Dr. Syed Zahoor Qasim, Member Planning Commission,
Government of India, was till recently the Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia
Islamia(University) in Delhi. He has had his early education in Allahabad and
then at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh from where he took his M.Sc.
degree in Zoology. He stood first in the order of Merit for which he was awarded
University Gold Medal. For a few years, he was a lecturer in the Department of
Zoology at Aligarh before proceeding to the United Kingdom for higher studies in
He returned to India in December of 1956 and joined
the Department of Zoology of AMU as a Lecturer. He became Reader in 1957 and
started a new laboratory of Fish and Fisheries in the Department. In 1962, he
joined the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay(Mumbai) as a
Professor of Fisheries Biology and in 1964, moved to Cochin as Assistant
Director in the Directorate of International Indian Ocean Expedition(IIOE) under
the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR). Here he extensively
worked on biological oceanography especially on the primary productivity of
Kerala Backwaters and on the atolls of Lakshwadeep.
From 1970 to 1973, Dr. Qasim was the Director of the
Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Cochin. He also held the
additional charge of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin for
about one year. Here he promoted new lines of work in Fisheries Biology and
initiated the development of mussel culture and pearl culture techniques for the
first time in India. This work earned him the prestigious award of "Padma
In January 1974, he took over as the Director of the
National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. In February 1976 he was
responsible for the commissioning of the first Oceanographic Research Vessel
Ganeshani for NIO. He initiated many new programs on the productivity of the
Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
In May 1981, Dr. Qasim was appointed Secretary to the
Government of India in the Department of Environment(DOE) and within a year
(April 1982) he took over as Secretary of the newly established Department of
Ocean Development. He has been responsible for the acquisition of a second
Oceanographic Research Vessel "Sagar Sampada" for the Indian Oceanographic
Dr. Qasim led India's First Expedition to the
Antarctica and successfully organized and guided the other seven expeditions to
the frozen continent from 1981 to 1988.
His work on Fisheries Biology, primary productivity,
mari-culture particularly mussel and pearl culture, estuarine ecology,
environmental pollution and Antarctic research will always be quoted profusely.
He has published more than 200 original research papers in national and
international journals. For his original work and distinguished services, he won
many honors and awards.
He led many delegations of India in
several international conferences and meetings.
Dr. Qasim is a Fellow of the Indian National Science
Academy, New Delhi, Indian academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of
Sciences, Allahabad, among many others. Under his guidance nearly 40 students
obtained their Ph.D. degrees from various universities in India.
He is Editor for several journals and member of the
Editorial Boards of many national and international scientific journals. he is
an Honorary Professor of several Universities including Madurai Kamaraj
University, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Annamalai University, Chidambaram in Tamil
Nadu, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, Aligarh
Muslim University, Aligarh and the Jamia Millia Islamia(University) in Delhi.
Dr. Qasim is blessed with three daughters and lives
in New Delhi.
Dr. C. M. Habibullah - Eminent
Dr. C. M. Habibullah is known as one of the most
eminent Gastroenterologists of the country. He is presently Dean of the Decccan
Medical College and Director of Owesi Medical and Research Center located in
Hyderabad. Formerly Professor and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology at
the Osmania Medical College and Hospital, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
He is also Chairman, Academic Committee, All India
Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), New Delhi and president, National
Association of Liver Study Group.
Son of Mr. Ahmed Hussain, he was born on 12th
October, 1936 at Chittor(Andhra Pradesh). He took his early education from
Chennai. Afterwards, he did his MBBS from Guntur Medical College in 1958 and was
awarded Gold Medals in Pathology and Surgery. He was awarded M.D.(General
Medicine) in 1963 and D.M.(Gastroenterology) in 1972.
Afterwards, he worked in a number of Hospitals and
Medical Colleges in different parts of the country. He is associated with a
number of institutions. He is a fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences,
American College of Gastroenterology, and International College of Angiology and
also elected member of the Academy of Medical Sciences(Gastroenterology) of the
former USSR and nominated member of National Board of Examination and AIIMS.
More than 80 major research papers by him have
appeared in scientific journals. More than 106 papers have been presented by him
at national and international conferences. His current interest is in liver cell
transplantation therapy in cases of acute liver failure and vaccine action
program in viral hepatitis cases.
Several scholars have obtained M.D., D.M., and Ph.D.
degrees under his guidance and many research projects have been completed.
Besides, new drug trials have also been done.
He has two children lives in Hyderabad.
Dr. S. N. A. Rizvi - Authority in
Dr. S.N.A. Rizvi is considered one of the few
authorities on Nephrology in India. He is a Professor of Medicine, Head of
Nephrology and Endocrinology Division, Maulana Azad medical College and
associated Hospitals in New Delhi
Son of Hakim S. Sultan Ahmed Rizvi, he was born in a
family of renowned for Hikmat, on 1 August 1939 at Amroha(District Moradabad,
U.P.). After doing his graduation and postgraduation in Biochemistry, from AMU,
he took admission in Medical College. Thereafter completed M.B.B.S. and M.D.
degrees in 1969 with gold medal in clinical thesis from Delhi University.
Dr. Rizvi, who has specialized in four
fields-Endocrinology including diabetes, Nephrology, Rheumatology and Internal
Medicine, is supervising the Dialysis services at Maulana Azad Medical College
and LNJP and G.P. Pant Hospitals since 1972. Since then about 24,000 patients
have been given free dialysis service. It is the only Hospital in the country
which provides free dialysis. it costs about $600.00 The new dialysis unit is
fully equipped with ten machines in non-infection units and two in Australia
antigen units. The latter is the only unit available in the country. Dr. Rizvi
reduced patient Mortality from 69 percent to 36 percent; Acute renal failure
from 69 % to 36 %; and Chronic renal failure from 100 % to 60 % . He reduced
Poisoning from 60 % to 4 %.
Dr. S.N.A. Rizvi, who has recently taken over as the
head of the newly established Tetanus Department, has been honored with several
fellowships and awards- Fellowship of AIID(All India Institute of Infectious
Diseases), Bombay(Mumbai) in 1980 for his distinguished work on diabetes; Fellow
of the Indian Academy of Medical Sciences, Delhi in 1983; Fellow of the Indian
Society of Nephrology in Chandigarh in 1984; Fellow of the Indian Congress in
Nutrition(International Nutrition) in 1985. Fellow of the Indian Congress of
Allergy and Immunology) in Delhi in 1986; Indian Congress of Physicians
Fellowship in 1990 besides a number of national and international awards. He was
recently been awarded by the Nobel Laureate Mother Theressa in recognition of
his significant contribution to Nephrology. He was invited as a Guest Speaker to
speak on several topics by national and international organizations.
He has also been a life member of numerous scientific
societies. His 220 papers have so far been published besides contribution of
chapters in various books of medical sciences. he has also been the Associate
Editor of the Journal of Indian Medical Association(IMA) of Medical Specialties,
and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Indian Medical Association
and also member of the editorial board of the Journal of Indian Society of
He has got special interest in the poor. He spends
Sundays at free medical camps in Delhi organized by the medical or voluntary
organizations. He has three children and lives in New Delhi.
Ornithology - Study of birds
India has the credit of having eminent ornithologists
who are Muslims. Mughal Emperor Jahangir was an expert ornithologist. Jahangir
described with care and accuracy various characteristics of animals and birds,
their geographical distribution and behavior. The internationally renowned
Indian ornithologist, Salim Ali, says, "His memoirs are a veritable gazetteer of
natural history of the India of his day."
For the first time in the history of ornithology, he
noted how sarus cranes mate, brood over their eggs, in turn, and how chicks are
hatched and taken care of. He also observed one human quality in this bird: the
parents love not only their eggs and chicks but also each other.
In 1958 there was sensation in the world of
ornithology when a Russian researcher, A. Ivanov, discovered a portrait of the
dodo, a large, non-flying pigeon-like bird which had become extinct about three
centuries ago, in a collection of paintings at the Institute of Orientalists of
the Soviet Academy of Sciences. There was nothing to identify the painter, but
the style was without doubt of Ustad Mansur, the court painter of Jahangir. Now
there is other evidence to show that it was the portrait of a Mauritius dodo
which a merchant had presented to the Emperor around 1624. So, in the world of
ornithology, Jahangir and the dodo made a dramatic reappearance nearly three
centuries after they had died.
Salim Ali - Internationally recognized
Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali, better known as Salim Ali,
the bird watcher extraordinary was born on November 12, 1896.
He is a recipient of the J. Paul Getty Wild Life
Conservation Prize for his contributions to ornithology, the study of birds. He
has won several national honors and awards as well. Surprisingly, Salim Ali has
no university degree. He is a world renowned expert on weaver birds. Salim
discovered Finn's Baya which was believed to have been extinct for 100 years
until he discovered it in the Kumaon hills.
In 1941 he published 'The Book of Indian Birds'
that contained lively descriptions and colored pictures of every species. It
made spotting a bird easy for the layman.
In 1948 he began an ambitious project in
collaboration with S. Dillon Ripley, an ornithologist of international repute,
to bring out in ten volumes Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan.
This work contains all that is known of birds of the subcontinent, their
appearance, where thy are generally found, their breeding habits, migration and
what remains to be studied about them.
Salim Ali has travelled all over India on his
bird-watching surveys. It is claimed that there is hardly a place in the country
where his heavy rubber shoes have not left their mark.
Professor Mushahid Husain - This is
written by Muzammil Husain
Professor Mushahid Husain, Department of Physics, Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi, is an eminent scientist. Born in 1952 at Moradabad, UP,
Professor Mushahid Husain did his postgraduate degree in Physics from
Agra University, Agra (UP) in 1975 and joined Lucknow University for his
research work. He worked on “Effect of chemical combination of X-ray
absorption edges” and was awarded Ph.D. degree in 1982. Same year,
he joined Bhopal University as Asstt. Professor, and established a
research group there, which later produced couple of Ph.D. students on
“Application of Chemical Shift of X-ray Absorption Edge” wherein
a new method of characterization of material by chemical shift of X-ray
absorption edge was developed.
In Aug. 1986, he joined
Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi as a faculty member and set up a Material
Science Laboratory in the Department of Physics.
Under his able supervision, in a very short duration the same laboratory
was identified as one of the centers to undertake research training
program in the field of Semiconductor Science and Technology by Regional
Network of Science & Technology (International Centre for Theoretical
Physics, Trieste, Italy) and Centre for Science & Technology of Non
Aligned and Other Developing Countries, New Delhi. Under this program, a
number of scientists from NAM countries (Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh
etc.) have successfully completed their research training at this
He is one of the pioneer workers in the area of research on Amorphous
Semiconductors and has been instrumental in creating a group of young
scientists to work in the field. In amorphous semiconductor, his
group is studying the structural, electrical, dielectric, thermal and
optical properties of amorphous semiconductors, which have extensive use
in the solid state devices. Recently he has taken up research work
in conducting polymers and nano materials specifically the carbon
nanotubes. He is synthesizing the carbon nanotube by using Electron
Cyclotron Resonance Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition (ECR-CVD), which
is a unique method.
Prof. Husain has completed four research projects on amorphous
semiconductors funded by University Grants Commission and Department of
Science and Technology, New Delhi. He has also conducted two major
research projects entitled ECR plasma etching of III-IV group compound
materials. In this project his group has developed ECR plasma etching
systems. Different gases with different pressure conditions were used
for studying the etching of Gallium Arsenide wafers.
He has also studied and developed diffusive cavities for solid-state
lasers in one of the esteemed DRDO Project. Recently he has taken up a
research project on “Studies of mechanism of new dye laser material and
their organic hosts”, funded by DRDO. Here silica gel rod is being
prepared by using different dyes, which can be eventually fabricated to
laser rods. In addition, a major superconductivity project funded by UGC
is continuing since 1989.
his contribution in the semiconductors, the scientific community
unanimously elected him the Vice Chairman of Semiconductor Society of
India for two consecutive terms (1999 to 2003). He is also holding
various positions in different academic societies. In addition, he also
held the office of the Vice-President of Indian Physical Society during
the session 1990-92. At present he is the secretary of one of the
prestigious society i.e. Society for Semiconductor Devices.
He is also the winner of Young
Scientist Award/Project of Department of Science & Technology, Govt.
of India. He is also the winner of Young Scientist Best Paper
Award-1991 from Muslim Association for Advancement of Science
(MAAS), Aligarh. He has been awarded the Associate Membership of
Third World Academy of Sciences, Abdus Salam International Centre for
Theoretical Physics, Trieste,, Italy to undertake the research work
on the structural aspect of amorphous semiconductor.
Furthermore, he has also delivered a
number of invited talks in various International and national forums. In
addition, a number of popular talks on All India Radio and National TV
Channel (Doordarshan) have also been presented by him. Prof. Husain
has also organized a number of National and International Conferences on
various aspects of Physics of Materials. He has been Secretary/Joint
Secretary of the steering committee of International Workshop on Physics
of Semiconductor Devices (IWPSD) since 1997. He was “Organizing
Secretary” of “6th International Workshop on Physics of
Materials”, held at Jamia Millia Islamia in 1987. He has research
collaborations both at National and International levels.
He had been regularly visiting the International Centre for Theoretical
Physics, Trieste, Italy to participate in various academic activities at
the centre. Prof. Husain has also worked in High Temperature
Superconductivity Laboratory at ICTP, Italy. His visits to University of
Cambridge, University of Princeton, New Jersey, UNAM, Mexico, SIRIM,
Malaysia, National University, Singapore, resulted in scientific
collaborations. In 2005, he visited National Tsing Hua University,
Hsinchu, Taiwan for collaborative work on Nanotecnology/ Nanomaterials
specially carbon nanotubes.
Husain has about 100 research papers in reputed International Journals
to his credit. He has also edited a book on “Advances in Physics of
Materials.” Recently, he has published a review article on “Carbon
Nanotubes and its Applications”
Besides his scientific activities, he enjoys the Membership of the
Board of Studies of different universities in India. He was the
“Elected Member” of the “Academic Council”, Jamia Millia Islamia, from
2000 – 2003. He is the Member of “Board of Governors” of National
Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra University.
his vast teaching and research experience he has the honour of being
Referee of various National /International journals. Among these,
Physica B, X-ray Spectrometry and Central European Journal of Physics
are worth mentioning.
He has three children and lives in New Delhi.