Thomson Reuters, a UK-based multi-media corporation, has recently released its report ‘The Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014’, listing more than 3200 scientists who are found as the leading contributors in some hot fields of scientific research during the previous year.
The mention of top researchers around the world is based on their distinction earned due to the highest number of articles that rank among those most frequently cited by other researchers.
From among scientists of 51 countries who surfaced in the study, 72 belong to seven Muslim countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordon, Malaysia and UAE. These countries respectively have 34, 11, 10, 8, 4, 3 and 2 most influential scientific minds of the surveyed year and accordingly have been put on 13th, 24th, 26th, 28th, 34th, 40th and 44th slabs in the world for the unique distinction.
Out of the total names from Saudi universities, almost half are Muslims whereas the rest are Christians, Hindus and Chinese. Around 35 Muslim scientists were noted to be working in USA, Canada, UK and other countries. Thus, overall 92 Muslim names may be noted from the list.
Saudi Arabia’s ascendance on the science ladder may surprise many as Iran and Turkey are generally found as the leading Muslim countries in science research publications. Countries like Israel, India and Russia can be seen in the Thompson Reuters’ survey on 20th, 22nd and 29th positions respectively. Thus, Saudi Arabia is ahead of Israel by 7 positions and four Muslim countries are better than Russia and also other 11 western countries put on the list.
No doubt, the Saudi government’s educational reforms during the past decade have made the country emerge as the leading country of the Muslim world on the Thompson Reuters list of 2014. The country is presently spending more than 10% of its GDP on the promotion of education and scientific research.
It is evident from the survey of the Thompson Reuters that only 3% Muslim scientists could find place in the list of over 3200 names. However, it is still higher than some of the leading third world countries such as India and Brazil, which have only 14 and 5 mentions in the list respectively. As may be anticipated, USA tops the list with 1725 instances followed by UK and China with 309 and 166 instances respectively.
It is a matter of satisfaction that a few Muslim countries have now come up to compete with many western countries in the field of scientific advancement.
[The contributor is an India-based scholar and the author of “Islam in 21st Century: The Dynamics of Change and Future-making”. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org]