10 Muslims who won a Nobel Prize

Established by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895, the Nobel Prize is a set of annual awards handed to individuals in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances in six categories – Literature, Chemistry, Economics, Physics, World Peace, and Medicine.

I have to admit that after writing this article I became frustrated. Why does the Muslim community fail in something where we were the leaders in: innovation and science.

Since then 900 people received a Nobel Prize. As for 2015, (only) 12 of the Nobel Prize winners are Muslims. Here is a list of 10 Muslim laureates who have won a nobel prize.

  1. Anwar Al Sadat
Anwar Al Sadat
Anwar Al Sadat

Type of price: Peace | Function: Former President of Egypt | Year: 1981

Menachem Begin( Former Prime Minister of Israel) and he received a nobel prize for their contribution to the two frame agreements on peace in the Middle East, and on peace between Egypt and Israel, which were signed at Camp David in 1978.

Anwar Al Sadat was also the first Muslim who won a Nobel Prize.

  1. Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat

Type of Price/ Peace | Function: Former Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization | Year: 1994

Just like Anwar Al Sadat, Arafat received a Nobel prize for Peace “for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East”

  1. Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi

Type of Price: Peace | Function: Lawyer and human right activist  | Year: 2003

Shirin received a  Nobel Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.

  1. Mohamed El Baradei
Mohamed El Baradei
Mohamed El Baradei

Type of Price: Peace | Function: Diplomate | Year: 2005

“For efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way.” For this purpose  El Baradei won the nobel prize of peace. He donated all of his winnings to build orphanages in Cairo.

  1. Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus

Type of Price: Peace | Function: Entrepreneur | Year: 2006

Muhammad Yunus is the founder of Garmeen Bank. Garmeen bank is a microfinance organization and community development bank founded in Bangladesh. It gives small loans to the impoverished without requiring collateral. He received the Nobel prize for Peace because his invention was founded to fight poverty. For the efforts to create economic and social development from below.

  1. Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

Type of Price: Peace | Function: Activist | Year: 2014

Malala, you all know her. She is a Pakistani activist for female education by defying the Taliban in Pakistan and she demanded that girls should be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived.

In 2014 she received The Nobel prize for Peace at the age of 17. That is how she became the youngest person who ever received a Nobel Prize.

  1. Mohammad Abdus Salam
Mohammad Abdus Salam
Mohammad Abdus Salam

Type of Price: Physics  | Year: 1979

The 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Sheldon Lee Glashow, Salam, and Steven Weinberg “for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current” : Aziz Sancar.

  1. Tawakkul Karman
Tawakkol Karman
Tawakkol Karman

Type of Price: Peace | Function: Journalist, Politician and Activist | Year: 2011

Tawakkul Karman is a Yemeni journalist,  politician and human rights activist.

She leads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005.

In 2011 she became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that was part of the Arab Spring uprisings. Yemenis started calling her the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis.

And in that year she also received the Nobel prize for Peace. She became the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize and the second youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date. No bad, don’t you think?

  1. Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk

Type of Price: Literature | Function: Writer | Year: 2006

A Turkish Novelist, Orhan Pamuk, won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His books are sold all over the world. He sold 11 million books in sixty languages.

My Name Is Red
My Name Is Red

His most famous books are My Name Is Red and Snow.

  1. Ahmed Zewail
Ahmed Zewail
Ahmed Zewail

Type of Price: Chemistry | Function: Chemist | Year: 1999

He is the first Muslim chemist to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the second Muslim scientist. Ahmed Zewail is know as the the “father of femtochemistry”, Femtochemistry is the area of physical chemistry that studies chemical reactions on extremely short timescales. For more information  about this science click here. He received his Nobel Prize in 1999.

I believe that our generation can make and will make a difference. What do you think? Why are there only 12 Muslims who won a Nobel Prize? Let me know in the comment section.

Written by Assia Loutfi

Assia Loutfi

Assia is a 21-year- old digital media student. She has a big passion for the Japanese culture and loves tea. In her spare time she likes to read books and watch television series.

  • Helena

    very interesting to know but you forgot to mention the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet who won this year the Nobel Prize for peace

  • Ibrahim Farag

    You also forgot the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz

  • Jonathan Kay

    I find it ripe that Arafat won the “peace” prize.. They must give that away as a raffle ticket if the guy who destroyed Lebanon and sponsored terrorism “won” that…