Take that Bill Maher! Islam kicks ass with 11 Muslim Nobel Laureates!

Published October 19th, 2014 - 11:00 GMT

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Malala Yousafzai's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize just over a week ago was not only just recognition of her contribution to the advancement of girl's education but a timely response to inflammatory and unfounded comments made by Bill Maher in July on his television show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

The American stand-up comic and political pundit suggested that Israel had become very good at defending itself largely due to Jewish expertise in science. “Jews have, I think, 155 Nobel Prizes, Muslims have two,” said Maher, calling it “kind of a big advantage for team Hebrew.” Looks like he skipped a few math classes (and suffered convenient amnesia regarding U.S. Israeli defense policy). Continue reading below »

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Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most recognized schoolgirl, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (shared with an Indian activist who battled child labor). The survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt, Malala advocates for education. She is the second Pakistani to be awarded the prize, and - at 17-years-old - the youngest.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most recognized schoolgirl, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (shared with an Indian activist who battled child labor). The survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt, Malala advocates for education. She is the second Pakistani to be awarded the prize, and - at 17-years-old - the youngest.

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Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman nabbed the 2011 Peace Prize for her work in nonviolent struggle for women’s rights and peace-building, which included four years of weekly protests in the capital, Sana’a. This journalist, human rights activist, and politician is the first Yemeni, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman nabbed the 2011 Peace Prize for her work in nonviolent struggle for women’s rights and peace-building, which included four years of weekly protests in the capital, Sana’a. This journalist, human rights activist, and politician is the first Yemeni, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Enlarge
Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was tried on charges of 'insulting Turkishness', when he was quoted in a Swiss paper as saying, 'Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it.' The case was dropped in 2006, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was tried on charges of "insulting Turkishness", when he was quoted in a Swiss paper as saying, "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it." The case was dropped in 2006, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Enlarge
Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus created a bank to lend money specifically to rural women. Initially, it was difficult to convince poor women to take on microloans; now, women are 97% of the borrowers. He and Grameen Bank shared the 2006 Peace Prize for creating a powerful tool against poverty. He said,“Our job is to peel off the layers of fear.”
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus created a bank to lend money specifically to rural women. Initially, it was difficult to convince poor women to take on microloans; now, women are 97% of the borrowers. He and Grameen Bank shared the 2006 Peace Prize for creating a powerful tool against poverty. He said,“Our job is to peel off the layers of fear.”

Enlarge
Egyptian diplomat, lawyer, and longtime director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA jointly won the 2005 Peace Prize 'for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way'.
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Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Egyptian diplomat, lawyer, and longtime director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA jointly won the 2005 Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way".

Enlarge
Iran's first female judge, Shirin Ebadi, lost that job in 1979 during the Khomeini revolution. Championing separation of religion and state, she was imprisoned in 2000 for criticizing Iran’s hierocracy. She won the 2003 Peace Prize for her work for democracy and human rights, a first for a Muslim female.
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11Iran's first female judge, Shirin Ebadi, lost that job in 1979 during the Khomeini revolution. Championing separation of religion and state, she was imprisoned in 2000 for criticizing Iran’s hierocracy. She won the 2003 Peace Prize for her work for democracy and human rights, a first for a Muslim female.

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Egyptian Ahmed Zewail won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy. A long-serving faculty member of California Institute of Technology, Zewail’s research garnered him honorary degrees from 15 universities, and got his face on a postage stamp in Ghana!
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Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Egyptian Ahmed Zewail won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy. A long-serving faculty member of California Institute of Technology, Zewail’s research garnered him honorary degrees from 15 universities, and got his face on a postage stamp in Ghana!

Enlarge
Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Peace Prize jointly with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for “efforts to create peace in the Middle East'. He supported 'the right of all parties…in the Middle East conflict to live in peace and security, including the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors'.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Peace Prize jointly with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for “efforts to create peace in the Middle East". He supported "the right of all parties…in the Middle East conflict to live in peace and security, including the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors".

Enlarge
Naguib Mahfouz won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time it went to an Egyptian writer and the the first to a writer in Arabic as his native tongue. Credited with popularizing the novel genre in Arabic, his work speaks to us all. 'If the urge to write should ever leave me', Mahfouz said, 'I want that day to be my last.'
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Naguib Mahfouz won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time it went to an Egyptian writer and the the first to a writer in Arabic as his native tongue. Credited with popularizing the novel genre in Arabic, his work speaks to us all. "If the urge to write should ever leave me", Mahfouz said, "I want that day to be my last."

Enlarge
Abdus Salam was Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, sharing the 1979 Prize in Physics with two other scientists whose research on subatomic particles anticipated the later discovery of Higgs Boson (or, the 'God particle'). Salam also helped establish Pakistan's space agency. An Ahmadi Muslim, he was shunned by his country and emigrated to England.
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11Abdus Salam was Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, sharing the 1979 Prize in Physics with two other scientists whose research on subatomic particles anticipated the later discovery of Higgs Boson (or, the "God particle"). Salam also helped establish Pakistan's space agency. An Ahmadi Muslim, he was shunned by his country and emigrated to England.

Enlarge
In 1978, Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin won the Peace Prize for initiating a binational peace treaty known as the “Camp David Accords”. The prize committee said, “his bold visit to the Israeli parliament, Knesset…(he) cut the Gordian knot [of MidEast tension] at a single stroke”.  Sadat was murdered in 1981.
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Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11In 1978, Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin won the Peace Prize for initiating a binational peace treaty known as the “Camp David Accords”. The prize committee said, “his bold visit to the Israeli parliament, Knesset…(he) cut the Gordian knot [of MidEast tension] at a single stroke”. Sadat was murdered in 1981.

Enlarge

1

Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most recognized schoolgirl, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (shared with an Indian activist who battled child labor). The survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt, Malala advocates for education. She is the second Pakistani to be awarded the prize, and - at 17-years-old - the youngest.

Image 1 of 11Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most recognized schoolgirl, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (shared with an Indian activist who battled child labor). The survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt, Malala advocates for education. She is the second Pakistani to be awarded the prize, and - at 17-years-old - the youngest.

2

Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman nabbed the 2011 Peace Prize for her work in nonviolent struggle for women’s rights and peace-building, which included four years of weekly protests in the capital, Sana’a. This journalist, human rights activist, and politician is the first Yemeni, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Image 2 of 11Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman nabbed the 2011 Peace Prize for her work in nonviolent struggle for women’s rights and peace-building, which included four years of weekly protests in the capital, Sana’a. This journalist, human rights activist, and politician is the first Yemeni, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

3

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was tried on charges of 'insulting Turkishness', when he was quoted in a Swiss paper as saying, 'Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it.' The case was dropped in 2006, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Image 3 of 11Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was tried on charges of "insulting Turkishness", when he was quoted in a Swiss paper as saying, "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it." The case was dropped in 2006, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

4

Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus created a bank to lend money specifically to rural women. Initially, it was difficult to convince poor women to take on microloans; now, women are 97% of the borrowers. He and Grameen Bank shared the 2006 Peace Prize for creating a powerful tool against poverty. He said,“Our job is to peel off the layers of fear.”

Image 4 of 11Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus created a bank to lend money specifically to rural women. Initially, it was difficult to convince poor women to take on microloans; now, women are 97% of the borrowers. He and Grameen Bank shared the 2006 Peace Prize for creating a powerful tool against poverty. He said,“Our job is to peel off the layers of fear.”

5

Egyptian diplomat, lawyer, and longtime director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA jointly won the 2005 Peace Prize 'for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way'.

Image 5 of 11Egyptian diplomat, lawyer, and longtime director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA jointly won the 2005 Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way".

6

Iran's first female judge, Shirin Ebadi, lost that job in 1979 during the Khomeini revolution. Championing separation of religion and state, she was imprisoned in 2000 for criticizing Iran’s hierocracy. She won the 2003 Peace Prize for her work for democracy and human rights, a first for a Muslim female.

Image 6 of 11Iran's first female judge, Shirin Ebadi, lost that job in 1979 during the Khomeini revolution. Championing separation of religion and state, she was imprisoned in 2000 for criticizing Iran’s hierocracy. She won the 2003 Peace Prize for her work for democracy and human rights, a first for a Muslim female.

7

Egyptian Ahmed Zewail won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy. A long-serving faculty member of California Institute of Technology, Zewail’s research garnered him honorary degrees from 15 universities, and got his face on a postage stamp in Ghana!

Image 7 of 11Egyptian Ahmed Zewail won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy. A long-serving faculty member of California Institute of Technology, Zewail’s research garnered him honorary degrees from 15 universities, and got his face on a postage stamp in Ghana!

8

Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Peace Prize jointly with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for “efforts to create peace in the Middle East'. He supported 'the right of all parties…in the Middle East conflict to live in peace and security, including the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors'.

Image 8 of 11Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Peace Prize jointly with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for “efforts to create peace in the Middle East". He supported "the right of all parties…in the Middle East conflict to live in peace and security, including the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors".

9

Naguib Mahfouz won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time it went to an Egyptian writer and the the first to a writer in Arabic as his native tongue. Credited with popularizing the novel genre in Arabic, his work speaks to us all. 'If the urge to write should ever leave me', Mahfouz said, 'I want that day to be my last.'

Image 9 of 11Naguib Mahfouz won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time it went to an Egyptian writer and the the first to a writer in Arabic as his native tongue. Credited with popularizing the novel genre in Arabic, his work speaks to us all. "If the urge to write should ever leave me", Mahfouz said, "I want that day to be my last."

10

Abdus Salam was Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, sharing the 1979 Prize in Physics with two other scientists whose research on subatomic particles anticipated the later discovery of Higgs Boson (or, the 'God particle'). Salam also helped establish Pakistan's space agency. An Ahmadi Muslim, he was shunned by his country and emigrated to England.

Image 10 of 11Abdus Salam was Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, sharing the 1979 Prize in Physics with two other scientists whose research on subatomic particles anticipated the later discovery of Higgs Boson (or, the "God particle"). Salam also helped establish Pakistan's space agency. An Ahmadi Muslim, he was shunned by his country and emigrated to England.

11

In 1978, Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin won the Peace Prize for initiating a binational peace treaty known as the “Camp David Accords”. The prize committee said, “his bold visit to the Israeli parliament, Knesset…(he) cut the Gordian knot [of MidEast tension] at a single stroke”.  Sadat was murdered in 1981.

Image 11 of 11In 1978, Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin won the Peace Prize for initiating a binational peace treaty known as the “Camp David Accords”. The prize committee said, “his bold visit to the Israeli parliament, Knesset…(he) cut the Gordian knot [of MidEast tension] at a single stroke”. Sadat was murdered in 1981.

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Since the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901 there have been over 850 Nobel Laureates. Jews walked away with at least 20% of the prizes, admirable, considering they make up less than 0.2% of humanity. (A website called Jewish Nobel Prize Winners says winners number 23% by counting people of partial Jewish ancestry.)

Past prizewinners have been Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu. Dozens are self-described atheists, and it’s a safe bet all prize-winning institutions are godless. Maher himself is an apatheist, highly critical of all religion. So why fire a provocative shot about underperforming Muslim prize-snagging? And how is recognition of superlative secular achievement a metric for comparing faiths?

Dial back a millennium, before Nobel Prizes. Muslims led the world in science and technology with a golden age spanning the 10th through 13th centuries. Things then collapsed, to be modestly reborn in the 19th century. Admittedly, the 20th century onward has been shway-shway (slow).  Innovation is challenging in the midst of societal chaos.

Look beyond snarky TV hosts and see Muslim achievements are also discounted by some Muslims. In 1979, Abdus Salam was Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, who saw science as an extension of his Islamic identity. He belonged to the Ahmadi sect, considered heretical by some as they don't believe Muhammad (PBOH) was the last prophet. In 1974, the Pakistani government decreed that 3 million Pakistani Ahmadis were not “legally” Muslim. Branded as apostates, they face perpetual prosecution, death threats, and destruction of their holy sites.

Shunned by his nation, Salam resigned his government post and moved to Europe, where he lived until his death in Oxford in 1996. He was buried in Pakistan beneath a gravestone that read, "First Muslim Nobel Laureate". A local official later ordered the word "Muslim" to be obscured.

Here are 11 Muslim Nobel Laureates you need to know about.  Someone pass the news to Bill Maher

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