During the Mustafa(pbuh) prize ceremony held today in Tehran attended by senior Iranian officials, foreign delegations and representatives of OIC countries along with over sixty prominent scholars and scientists from Islamic countries, the laureates were honored and praised for their pioneering achievements.
MSTF Media reports:
On December 3rd, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Great Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the award ceremony taken place at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall, the Mustafa(pbuh) Prize Laureates received their prizes.
Prof. Erol Gelenbe from turkey and Prof. Mohammad Amin Shokrollahi from Iran were the laureates of 2017 Mustafa(pbuh) Prize in Information and Communications Science and Technology and Information Theory.
Prof. Romain Murenzi the Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS) in his speech on the early of the event, named the laureates as a roles model for society who are constantly portray a strenuous effort in carrying social responsibilities and specify an appropriate symbol of precious world in society. They are the one who also play an important role in broadening the scientific borders for public welfare. He also praised the MSTF initiative in granting this prize and described it as a successful example on top of its agenda, attempts to create a hub for attracting the attention of people around the world towards capabilities of Islamic world and lay the ground for international scientific collaborations more than ever.
He further added, “ The Mustafa (pbuh) Prize is a popular prize and movement and today a number of distinguished figures of Islamic and global community have been invited to contribute to this great movement. The prize offers an opportunity for everyone to be a part of world scientific activity and may this honor and divine privilege be bestowed upon us, Inshallah.”
While highlighting the headlines of MSTF plan, Prof. Murenzi described MSTF’s scientific activities for instance, “Science & Technology Exchange Programs (STEP), (KANS) Knowledge Application and Notion for Society described as a strategy would lead to Synergy in science and technology, like the golden era of Islamic civilization definitely will bring about a significant increase in the realm of science and technology for humanity that from its spring all the ethnic groups are quenched and Islamic nations will be more powerful.
Since 2013, Mustafa(pbuh) Prize initiated by MSTF, has been granted biennially to the laureates in the ceremony on anniversary of the Holy Prophet of Islam, to the top researchers and scientists from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states in four categories, including: “Information and Communication Science and Technologies, Life & Medical Sciences and Technology, Nano Science and Nanotechnologies and all areas of Science and Technology”.
Recipients in each section receives the Mustafa(pbuh) Medal, a Diploma and $500,000 financed through the endowments made to the prize. In fact Prize is given to those scientists and technologists whose achievements have significant effect on human life.
The first round of Mustafa(pbuh) Prize was held in 2015 in Tehran and Prof. Omar Yaghi from Jordan in the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Prof. Jackie Ying from Singapore in Bio-nanotechnology category, were the recipients of this award.
Politics rather than policy is clouding the biosphere of most countries in the Islamic world. Science policy in the Arab region is not stable due to instability of the region.
The question is how the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (UN-SDGS), can pave the way for global peace and prosperity with such political instability. Does stability come with policies in science, technology, and innovation (STI) to create the “niche” of political stability that the Islamic world has hardly enjoyed?
There are areas where some countries in the Islamic world has succeeded in providing political stability with sound policies, and has created a stable democratic governance with change and continuity, and emerged strongly in STI and economy.
Malaysia is a country which has succeeded in generating wealth per capita to overcome unemployment and poverty and to compete with OECD countries and has developed a unique democratic system with full participation of all segments of the society based on tolerance, equity, and justice.
They have created a sustainable political system leaving no one behind with sound policies in economics, science, technology, and innovation (STI), generating high-tech exports dependent heavily on the R&D and technology transfer. This is a model which could be studied carefully for prosperous and future progress of the Islamic Umma.
The Islamic world cannot live on the glories of the past, although we have to underline the success stories in our history to give us the impetus to trigger with vigour the development of our present and future quality of life and put human dignity, at the centre of development.
The Islamic world faces problems in knowledge-use more than in knowledge creation. Without translating academic research into policy and public awareness, research will be read by few people who constitute the elites who are disconnected from the masses of the society.
The Islamic world cannot live on the glories of the past, although we have to underline the success stories in our history to give us the impetus to trigger with vigour the development of our present
There is a gap between scientists and policy/decision makers. Universities are the centres of creating knowledge and its transmission, and where minds are shaped. The creation of knowledge occurs through research, free-thinking, exploration, and the exchange and debate of ideas.
The transmission of knowledge is done by teaching and training of the next generation, which not only receives the distilled, confirmed facts and theories in various branches of knowledge, but also learns to dissect them, check for any flaws, and construct more robust frameworks of knowledge for the world.
In addition to the knowledge production and scholarship and the shaping of critical and creative minds, one of the main goals and raisons d’être of universities worldwide is to develop within society a culture of inquiry, intellectual rigour, and promotion of evidence and merit.
This spirit is what led to the Islamic Golden Age of science. Indeed, the Muslim world is widely credited for having established the first universities in the world, going back as far as 859 AD.
And indeed, those universities created knowledge by translating books from scholars of previous civilisations, by hosting scholars and giving them the means and the freedom to explore all the ideas that they wished to analyse, and by training students and disciples in intellectual work, from the purely philosophical, theological, or theoretical, to the most directly applicable techniques.
However, after a Golden Age of knowledge and science that lasted many centuries, the Islamic world went through a long period of decline, which was followed by Western colonisation, and by the 20th century, it was trailing all other nations in knowledge production and dissemination.
Today, and after huge efforts (financial and otherwise), only a few universities from the Arab world can be found in the Top 400 of the major world university rankings, and none in the Top 100.
New knowledge, particularly knowledge related to technology, drives the economic systems. Economic agents, including firms and governments, are forced to adapt to technical change in order to survive in a competitive environment.
While governments should act as facilitator, technology capabilities must accumulate in enterprises.
This will only be possible if we strengthen our universities and R&D organisations and create effective linkages between them and industry. It will be the increasing use of knowledge in the production processes and service industry which will determine the growth of our GDP.
Our ability to compete or survive in the globalisation of economic systems depends on our commitment towards the development of our human capital and ensuring a continuous learning process within the government institutions and enterprises to create a culture of innovation.
Innovation is concerned with enhancing national productivity and national competitive performance.
Dynamic innovation systems involve interplay between a number of different parts of the society which include the government, private sector, universities, and research institutions.
The transition of our economy from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy involves a mosaic of complex interactions in which a large number of players would be involved.
The universities will need to play a central part in this transition through knowledge creation, its use and diffusion of new knowledge into the society through establishment of technology parks, business incubators, access to venture capital, and other such schemes.
The new world order requires us to prepare our children to face the challenges of the global economy.
This involves a substantially different type of education to be imparted, focused not only on the mastery of subject matters but also on the development of the various other skills such as the ability to think critically, innovate, communicate effectively, work effectively in teams, develop entrepreneurship and risk-taking skills, and the ability to face and manage changes in a flexible manner.
This would require a massive focused national effort.
I have no doubts that the cross-fertilisation of ideas coming out from this conference will enhance our ability to pursue the development of the quality of life for the Umma.
HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal is former crown prince of Jordan. This article is an abridged version of an address delivered at the 21st Science Conference of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences held in Konya, Turkey, October 7, 2017.