Last Updated on 15th January 2021
Mussawar Ahmad, AMRA, UK
What defines a world class researcher? What are the traits of a world class scientist? And perhaps more importantly, what distinguishes an Ahmadi Muslim researcher?
These are important questions that researchers within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community must be asking themselves if they are to deliver upon the guidance set by Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa in the AMRA Conference in 2019.
Fortunately, on 2 January 2021, researchers from across the world had an opportunity to do just that as part of a researcher workshop in AMRA’s (Ahmadi Muslim Researcher and Association) first international virtual conference.
The session had two key objectives. First it was to facilitate discussion about the defining traits of a researcher and second, it was to shed light on Huzoor’s above mentioned speech, giving attendees an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the content and how it applied to them.
The first question posed to the delegates was for them to reflect on the great researchers that they were aware of. Time was limited, yet still many names were put forward – those that were familiar to all and those that were familiar to only a few.
Following on from this, the attendees were asked, “What made these researchers world-class?”
The results are presented in the image given; common themes of determination, hard work and curiosity emerge.
A small discussion further cemented these thoughts but also added to them in the form of traits around “helping others” and “tackling the big problems”.
Key members of the team then had an opportunity to disseminate some of the work they had been doing as part of the “Nobel Prize Road-mapping” project.
Here, the aim is to create a repository of knowledge, workshops and advice for researchers to navigate a path towards world class research. The team shared learnings they had gained about the tremendous success of Jewish researchers; while accounting for only 0.2% of the population they account for 22% of prizes. Key insights as to why this was the case was very much focused on.
The session then moved onto sharing some of the learnings from a book called “Nobel Prize Women in Science” by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne. Here, there was a common theme about the incredibly unfair misogyny women in science have experienced, but through grit, determination and support from their family they were able to prove the naysayers wrong.
It is an inspirational book and provides wisdom and insight to both men and women alike.
Having reflected on the success of the Jewish community and the challenges faced by women, the workshop moved onto asking the attendees to ponder on the differentiating factors of Ahmadi researchers.
The key theme that emerged was of Khilafat, which was further supported by spirituality, firmness of faith and the potential strength of our community in this space.
The workshop then turned its attention to Prof Abdus Salam Sahib and the unique combination of traits that resulted in his terrific achievements. The readers of this article are encouraged to read his biographies and study his life to fully understand his dedication, determination and work ethic.
Having talked through researcher traits, the workshop shifted gears to a discussion on the historic speech given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa in the 2019 AMRA Conference. The attendees were prompted to provide their thoughts on what the speech covered and further asked to rank the perceived importance of key themes.
An analysis of the speech was then presented to illustrate the emphasis that Huzooraa had given to taqwa and how it was realised through scientific enquiry and a deep study of the Holy Quran.
Following this analysis and a short discussion, the workshop facilitator shared AMRA’s strategy in light of the speech and some of AMRA’s key activities, including Research Cafes for researchers, a mentoring committee to support the development of young researchers, AMRA academy to inspire Atfal and a Holy Quran seminar series to encourage the practice of study of the Islamic scripture.
The session concluded with the workshop providing an opportunity for the attendees to feedback on what AMRA should be doing more of and indeed less of, giving further opportunity for development and refinement of activities in line with researcher needs.
For those interested in participating in future AMRA activities, please send an email to: [email protected]