Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Abdus Salam in Pop Culture

by Salman Hameed

Abdus Salam is a big name in physics and Pakistan's only Nobel Laureate. But it is rare to hear his name in Pakistan. All of this because he belonged to the Ahmadi sect of Muslims - a sect whose discrimination is part of the Pakistani constitution since the 1970s.

There is a new music video out in Pakistan that is completely irreverent to the political and military establishment. And in it, it also manages to pay homage to Abdus Salam. Zakir Thaver, who has been working on a documentary of Abdus Salam, pointed me to this video and noted the usual lack of any reference of Abdus Salam in pop culture. So its great to see Salam's name showing up in here.

Here is the video, Aalo Anday. The references in the video are about different political and military leaders, along with a host of other perceptions common in Pakistan today. Unless, you are privy to the political happenings in Pakistan, it will be hard to get a handle on them (though, here is a helpful primer to these references). But for our purposes, the Salam mention is around 1:36.
[p.s. Two names mentioned and contrasted prior to Salam are those of Qadri and Kasab - responsible for the assassination of Governor of Punjab and the Mumbai attacks, respectively].

Now Pakistan has a long history of sharp political satire. But there is something about this video that makes its subversiveness more effective and biting.

Enjoy!



6 comments:

Aiysha said...

Great write up Salman. Hearing Dr. Abdus Salam's name in pop culture can be a little difficult conisdering our constitution legally discriminates against a whole community. I think that fear of "I might get into trouble for promoting anything to do with them" will begin to disperse with couragous youth.

Salman Hameed said...

[I think that fear of "I might get into trouble for promoting anything to do with them" will begin to disperse with couragous youth."]

And I think this is the reason I like the irreverent tone of the video.

N.H. said...

This video has gone viral here in Pakistan!

Anonymous said...

"...discrimination is part of the Pakistani constitution since the 1970s."
What exactly is that discrimination in constitution? If the overwhelming majority in a country decides to define Islam in a particular way in their country through democratic means, shouldn't that be respected as long as the constitution ensures their rights as a minority religion (like allowing hijabs or minarets over mosques). Not celebrating Abdus Salam as a national hero is a tragedy indeed but this discrimination is not limited to Pakistan as Maulana Edhi did not 'deserve' a nobel prize for being a Pakistani muslim...ever heard of him dear? And you being an atheist, do you really find yourself in a position to declare Ahmedis as a 'muslim' sect when you have no formal knowledge of ISlam and Quran?

Asad M said...

BBC has an article today about this video:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15428540

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr.Abdus Salam actually quoted from the Quran:

"The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says, "Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary."
This in effect is the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze."

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1979/salam-speech.html

Akbar said...

Like x3 :-)