FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
STEPHEN HAWKING IS NO MORE
THE British scientist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76. He was regarded as the most important theoretical scientist of his time. Generally Dr. Hawking is considered to be a secular scientist but one theory developed by him is extremely important in respect of religion, and on this theory he worked all his life. It is known as the ‘Theory of Everything’ or ‘Single String Theory’ with each tiny string being a loop of energy. After the time of Einstein it was believed that there were four physical forces which controlled the entire universe, that is, gravitational force, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force.
This theory that the universe is controlled by four forces did not appeal to the minds of scientists, because according to scientific observation, every part of the universe functions in an extremely unified way. The whole universe appears to be governed by a single law. This being so, the theory of four laws governing the present universe appears strange. Subsequent to the times of Einstein, when it was believed that there were four physical laws governing the universe one such physical law was eliminated and then it was believed that there were three governing laws. In 1974 Dr. Hawking published a thesis in the journal Nature under the title “Black Hole Explosions?” This work is hailed by scientists as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature. With this, Dr. Hawking helped in laying the foundation for unifying the remaining two forces of nature—gravity and quantum mechanics, descriptions of the large and the small in the universe. Stephen Hawking worked further on this theory. In other words, Dr. Hawking’s work helped in the search for finding a cohesive explanation for the functioning of the universe. It is this explanation which is the equivalent of a scientific affirmation of the concept of one God.
In 1963, as a graduate student at Cambridge at the age of 21, Dr. Hawking learned that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular degenerative disease. He was given only two years to live by doctors. The disease gradually left him wheelchair-bound and paralyzed. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand and was completely dependent on others or on technology for everything —bathing, dressing and eating. He used a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerized voice. However, Dr. Hawking remained undeterred by his condition, becoming Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, and publishing several bestsellers, including A Brief History of Time in 1988 and Universe in a Nutshell in 2001. His A Brief History of Time, which introduces in nontechnical language the nature, origin and structure of the universe, made him known to people across the world. This book sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 languages.
Considered on par with the likes of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, Dr. Hawking is regarded as his generation’s leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes. He discovered that black holes would eventually fizzle out leaking radiation, which is now known as Hawking radiation.
Dr. Hawking once said: “When you are faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.” The British cosmologist Martin Rees said that millions around the world have been inspired by his unique example of achievement against all odds—a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination. He believed that people need not be limited by handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit. Dr. Hawking, according to the mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, had an absolute determination not to let anything get in his way and thought that since he did not have long to live, he should get as much done as he could manage.
In my view, there were two significant contributions of Dr. Hawking for those who want to explain things in a scientific way. The first is the human contribution, that is, he put an end to the ‘disabled theory’, as Dr. Hawking was a living example who proved that one who has a challenging disability can overcome it and do every kind of work which ‘able’ people can do. This they achieve by availing of two things—their minds and modern technology.
The second contribution of Dr. Hawking is that he transformed a dream into reality. Everyone used to think that since the universe worked in a harmonious way, it ought to have a unified explanation. This was presented through Dr. Hawking’s work on the single string theory. Dr. Hawking has given the human race the message that we can make a big contribution to humanity and also live in the world with great hope.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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