Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
|Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood|
|Born||1940 (age 72–73)
Amritsar, Punjab British State, British Indian Empire (now India)
|Residence||Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory|
|Institutions||Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)|
|Alma mater||Lahore University of Engineering and Technology (UET)
University of Manchester
|Known for||SBM Probe Instrument
Nuclear energy programme
|Influenced||Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan
Dr. Israr Ahmed
|Notable awards||Sitara-e-Imtiaz (1998)|
Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood Urdu: سلطان بشیر الدین محمود; born 1940; (alternative spellings: Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mehmood; SI), is a Pakistani nuclear engineer and Islamic scholar educated in Lahore, Pakistan and Manchester, United Kingdom. Bashiruddin Mahmood is widely popular in Pakistan's scientific and religious circles for his scientific interpretation and its relation to Quran. He played a vital role in the development and expansion of the country's nuclear industry during its formative years.
After a distinguish scientific career at the PAEC, he formed a right-wing organization, UTN, to promote reconstruction and political development in Afghanistan in 1999. Having being active in Afghanistan for reconstruction, he was arrested by the FIA on suspicion of having sympathy and contacts with the Talibans, as an aftermath of September 11 attacks in the United States. Released and cleared from 53-days long debriefing, he has been out of the public eye and is currently living a quiet life in Islamabad, writing books on the relationships between Islam and science. Mahmood has authored more than 15 books, both in English and Urdu, on the relationship between Islam and science.
Life and education
Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood was born in Amritsar, Eastern region of British Punjab State, sometime in either 1940 or 1939. After the Indian partition and the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, his parents escaped from pogroms and genocide in India and migrated to Pakistan and settled in a village named 'Lagar' near Lahore. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood's father, Chaudhry Sharif Khan, was a local village leader (lit. Numberdar) and put all his income to educate his eldest son who stood first in his High school and took 3rd position in the Punjab Matric Board. The government awarded him a scholarship due to which his father sent him to Government College University (GCU) where he was enrolled in Department of Pre-Engineering in 1958. He stood 3rd in the higher secondary school certificate examination pre-engineering group and got admission at the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore (UET Lahore). At UET, Mahmood enrolled in College of Engineering, with majors in Electrical engineering. Mahmood studied together with Parvez Butt at UET, and in 1962, Mahmood graduated with BSc with Honors in Electrical Engineering from UET Lahore.
After graduation Mahmood got a job in WAPDA which he left after one year and joined the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as an electrical engineer in 1964. He was sent to Electronics Division (ED) and was one of the pioneering member there. While in PAEC, Mahmood went to Army Recruiting Center (ARC) to join the Pakistan Army, and volunteered to participate in Indo-Pakistan 1965 September war, but by the time he was to be sent to the front lines the war ended and also Dr. I. H. Usmani, the then Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, used his influence in the Government that prevented Mahmood to join the war. Instead, Usmani sent Mahmood to join the Nuclear Physics Group.
In 1967, he went to the United Kingdom on a PAEC scholarship, and attended the University of Manchester, where he studied for his double masters degree in Nuclear Engineering and Control System Engineering. In 1969, he completed his double M.Sc. in control system engineering and nuclear engineering from the University of Manchester.
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
In late 1969, Mahmood came back to Pakistan and rejoined PAEC. Before joining Pakistan's nuclear energy programme, Mahmood was trained at the Nuclear Engineering Division of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). He was a distinguished member of Nuclear Physics Group (NPG) at PINSTECH, where he along with Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Hafeez Qureshi and Dr. Naeem Ahmad Khan, studied and researched in the field of Nuclear Technology. During his master studies, Mahmood had read scientific reports of the "Manhattan Project" while receiving his training at the Birmingham University, where he also had an opportunity to discuss enrichment technology with scientists from South Africa, who were then exploring the jet-nozzel aerodynamic process of enrichment. During this time, South Africa was clandestinely building its nuclear programme, and South-Africa was in favour to use the aerodynamic nozzle enrichment techniques to produce weapons-grade material. As Mahmood was also interested in the process, a discussion was held on how to advance this process and make it more effective in order to make better and efficient weaponised-fuel, suitable for the nuclear device.
He specialised in reactor technology from the United Kingdom when he was offered post-graduate research by the Manchester University, and did extensive research at British nuclear industry. In 1970, Mahmood was promoted as Chief Engineer (CE) at the KANUPP-I, country's first commercial nuclear power plant, in Karachi. Mahmood working in the KANUPP-I where he had developed a scientific instrument, the SBM probe to detect leaks in steam pipes, a problem that was affecting nuclear plants all over the world and is still used worldwide. At KANUPP-I, he also set up a laboratory to manufacture spare parts for the plant. According to his son, Mahmood, along with other scientists and engineers, after the Indo-Pak War of 1971, and had locked himself in his room where he cried for two days over the loss of East Pakistan.
Although, a junior scientist at KANUP, he was delegated at the winter seminar, known as Multan meeting on January 1972 where he personally met with Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and delivered a speech on atomic science. In 1974 Munir Ahmad Khan, the then Chairman of PAEC appointed him as the director of the uranium project and began his calculations on the uranium enrichment. The uranium program, although a secondary route for the atomic bomb, began its scientific research and mathematical calculations on uranium diffusion, gas-centrifuge, jet-nozzle and laser enrichment processes; he advocated the centrifuge process, as it was faster and economical. A report, marked as PC-1 finalised, on the centrifuge projects was handwritten by him to maintain the secrecy and feasibility. Immediately, he submitted his report to PAEC and the program was thereafter started with Mahmood being its uranium program's director in 1974, a move that irked Qadeer Khan, who had coveted the job for himself.
As early as in 1975, he collaborated with another theorist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan on conducting mathematical calculations on centrifuges, as his deputy but both developed differences. His relations with Dr. A.Q. Khan remains tense, and often pictured him as "egomaniac". With the backing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in mid 1976 Qadeer Khan had him ejected from the ERL and uranium enrichment projects. Later, Munir Ahmad Khan appointed had secured the directorship of the Directorate of Industrial Liaison (DIL) at PAEC which was created to encourage indigenization in development of nuclear-mechanical parts used in the nuclear reactors.
During 1980s, he was named as the project manager of the Khushab-I; he served as the designer of the Khushab reactor, near Mianwali— a heavy water reactor that produces plutonium and Tritium. Prior to 1991, he also designed and set up a nuclear fuel facility at the Punjab province. In 1988, he was promoted and became Director-General of the Directorate for the Nuclear Power (DGNP). He held his position till 1999 until his resignation from PAEC due to his opposition to Pakistan's planned signing of CTBT. After the reactor went critical in April 1998, Mahmood in an interview had said: "This reactor (can produce enough plutonium for two to three nuclear weapons per year) Pakistan had "acquired the capability to produce.... boosted thermonuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs." In 1998, following the country's nuclear tests (See Chagai-I and Chagai-II), Mahmood was awarded the civilian decoration, the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, in a colourful ceremony by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.
Radical politics and Ummah Tameer-e-Nau
At public circles, he lobbied against prime minister Sharif as the he learned that Sharif had been willing to be a signatory of anti-nuclear weapon treaties and Sharif had him to be forcefully resigned from his position; the government transferred him to a non-technical position at the Nuclear Engineering Division of PAEC. Before he joined the engineering division, Mahmood opted for early retirement from PAEC in 1999 and submitted his resignation to PAEC chairman.
After retiring from PAEC, Mahmood began his research areas involving the Islam and science by revitalizing an NGO organization but had remained dormant due to his involvement with PAEC. He began attending the lectures and religious sessions with Dr. Israr Ahmed who would later influenced in his political views and philosophy. In the mean time, he, along with his close retired PAEC scientists and other friends, founded the Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (lit. "Reconstruction for the Islamic Community"), a Pakistani based Islamic charity that was active in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. The Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) focused on educational institutions, hospitals, demining operations, and relief work.
In August 2001, during his frequent visits to Afghanistan for UTN projects, Mahmood and one of his colleagues at Mahmood's Ummah Tameer-e-Nau charity met with Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Afghanistan. "There is little doubt that Mahmood talked to the two Qaeda leaders about nuclear weapons, or that Al Qaeda desperately wanted the bomb", the New York Times reported.
2001 debriefing and detention
Mahmood was arrested while visiting a friend in Lahore in the afternoon of 19 October 2001 by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency because of his suspected connections with the Taliban. George Tenet, then-Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), later described intelligence reports of his meeting with Al Qaeda as “frustratingly vague.” He, however, told the FIA intelligence officials in very clear terms that he had nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation and he was only working on humanitarian issues like food, health and education. Although he was considered innocent and released on 22 December 2001, he was declared a terrorist by U.S. President George W. Bush in his televised address on 23 December 2001. Despite clear indications from CIA that he is not involved with any terrorist outfit.[verification needed]
During his debriefing, his son Dr. Asim Mahmood, who's a family medicine doctor told ISI officials that: My father [Mahmood] did meet with Osama bin Laden and Osama Bin Laden seemed interested in that matter but my father showed no interest in the matter as he met him for food, water and healthcare matters on which his charity was working.
Due to an immense public pressure from the Pakistani civil society, he was placed under house arrest in late December 2001 and has been closely monitored by the Government of Pakistan and Pakistani federal agencies. In late 2001, his family said that, he has been released from the intelligence agencies and placed into house arrest and is still not allowed to meet anyone. During his detention in 2001 he had developed heart ailment which lead to a heart attack in 2006, and underwent angioplasty in Islamabad. Pakistan's Government has placed him on the "Exit Control List (ECL)" in which he is not allowed to travel out of Pakistan and since his release, Mehmood has been out of the public eye and lives a very quiet life in Islamabad, Pakistan devoting most of his time to write books and doing research work on Islam and science.
Dr. Bashir Syed, former president of the Association of Pakistani Scientists and Engineers of North America (APSENA), said: "I know both of these persons and can tell you there is not an iota of truth that both these respected scientists and friends will do anything to harm the interest of their own country."
He has written over fifteen books, the most well-known being "The Mechanics of Doomsday and Life After Death", which is an analysis of the events leading to doomsday in light of scientific theories and Quranic knowledge. However, his scientific arguments and theories have been challenged by some prominent scientists in Pakistan.
In 1988, Mehmood was invited through an invitation at the University of Islamabad to deliver a lecture on science. During his lecture at the university's "Physics Hall", he and several other academcians have debated on his book. While debating, a well known Pakistani nuclear physicist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood had an acrimonious public debate in 1988 at the University of Islamabad's Physics Hall. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy had severely criticised Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood's theories and the notion of Islamic science in general, calling it ludicrous science. Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood protested that Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy misrepresented his views. This is crossing all limits of decency, he wrote. But should one expect any honesty or decency from anti-Islamic sources?
Literature and Cosmology
In his writings and speeches, Mahmood has advocated sharing Pakistan's nuclear weapons technology with other Islamic nations which he believed would give rise to Muslim dominance in the world. He has also written a Tafseer of the Quran in English.
Mahmood is reported to be fascinated "with the role sunspots played in triggering the French and Russian Revolutions, World War II and assorted anti-colonial uprisings." According to his book "Cosmology and Human Destiny", Mahmood argued that sunspots have influenced major human events, including the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and World War II. He concluded that governments across the world "are already being subjected to great emotional aggression under the catalytic effect of the abnormally high sunspot activity under which they are most likely to adapt aggression as the natural solution for their problems". In this book which was first published in 1998, he predicts that the period from 2007 to 2014 would be of great turmoil and destruction in the world. Other books written by him include a biography of the Islamic prophet Muhammad titled "First and the Last", while his other books are focused more on the relation between Islam and science like Miraculous Quran, Life After Death and Doomsday, and Kitab-e-Zindagi (in Urdu).
One passage of the book reportedly states: "At the international level, terrorism will rule; and in this scenario use of mass destruction weapons cannot be ruled out. Millions, by 2020, may die through mass destruction weapons, hunger, disease, street violence, terrorist attacks, and suicide."
Mahmood's lifelong friend, Parliamentarian Farhatullah Babar, who is currently serving as a spokesperson of President of Pakistan, while talking to media, said: Mahmood predicted in Cosmology and Human Destiny that "the year 2002 was likely to be a year of maximum sunspot activity. It means upheaval, particularly on the South Asia, with the possibility of nuclear exchanges."
Mahmood has published papers concerning djinni, which are described in the Qur'an as beings made of fire. He has proposed that djinni could be tapped to solve the energy crisis. I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them, Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood said about djinni in The Wall Street Journal in an interview in 1988. Every new idea has its opponents, he added. But there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science.
New York Times comments
The New York Times has described Mahmood as "an autodidact intellectual with grand aspirations," and noted that "his fellow scientists at PAEC began to wonder if Mahmood was mentally sound." Mahmood made it clear that he believed Pakistan’s bomb was “the property of the whole Ummah,” referring to the worldwide Muslim community. “This guy was our ultimate nightmare,” an American intelligence official told the Times in late 2001. US Institute of Historical biographies mentions him in their ‘Who is Who’ list and presented him a gold medal in 1998. He has also been awarded Gold Medal by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences.
- 1980; Doomsday and Life After Death
- 1982; The Miraculous Qur'an: A Challenge to Science and Mathematics
- 1984; The Greatest Success
- 1985; The Life of Book: A Scientific interpretation of Quran
- 1986; Muhammad: The First & the Last
- 1988; A New Book of the Children Rhymes
- 1989; Judgement day and Life After Death
- 1994; The Holy Quran and Dirac equations
- 1995; The Miraculous Qur'an – A Discovery Concerning Its Arrangements into Chapter and Parts
- 1996; The Challenge of Reality
- 1998; Cosmology and Human Destiny: Impact of Sunpots on Earthly events; Our Past and Future
- 2005 A Tafseer of the Holy Quran. (English version) (2005)
- 2006 There is no God, but Allah
- 2006 Kitab-e-Zindagi Tafseer (Urdu version)
- 2010 Muhammad - The Prophet of Mankind
Awards and honours
- Sitara-e-Imtiaz (1998)
- Gold medal, Pakistan Academy of Sciences (1998)
- Gold medal, U.S. Institute of Historical biographies (1998)
- "Sultan Muhammad Bashir-ud-din Mahmood". Darulhikmat. darulhikmat.com.
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