Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Did Einstein convert to Islam?

Albert Einstein receives his US citizenship

Photo Credit: Al Aumuller via Wikimedia Commons

Did the German-born Albert Einstein, a non-observant Jew, convert to Shi’a Islam following an alleged correspondence with an Iranian religious leader in the 1950s?

The remarkable question was posed by Shi’a News — a website dedicated to reporting on the global Shi’a community — to the grandson of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Borujerdi.

The unnamed grandson’s answers are no less remarkable than the question posed. He admits that he has “no precise and demonstrable proof of Mr. Einstein’s conversion to Islam and Shi’ism,” and stresses that Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi had no direct relationship with Einstein but corresponded through the Iranian scientist Professor Mahmoud Hessaby, whose alleged relationship with Einstein has never been proven either. The grandson also admits that a search into his grandfather’s archives has not produced any example of correspondence between Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi and Einstein.

However, the grandson goes to great lengths to explain that a relationship between the Grand Ayatollah and Einstein is not “refutable,” and argues: “I have studied Mr. Einstein’s personality. He was a polyhistor whose thinking was not restricted to physics. He studied other disciplines, including Islamic philosophy and study of words [elm-e kalaam].”

What has motivated Shi’a News to publish such obvious nonsense? The answer can hardly be anything but inferiority complexes of the editors of the website.

Ashamed of the fact that Islamic civilization has not managed to produce a single scientist of Einstein’s stature in the modern age, Shi’a News makes a Muslim out of Einstein. In the short term, such acts of self-deception may make the unbearable burden of underdevelopment and backwardness more bearable to the target audience, but deep inside the readers of Shi’a News know better.

Shi’a News should pose a different question: How can Islamic civilization reach the scientific level of the West? In less abstract terms, Shi’a News should speculate what career prospects Einstein would have if he lived in present day Iran. Such speculation is admittedly not easy, but had Einstein been a physics professor at the time of the revolution of 1979, he would have been purged during the ensuing “cultural revolution” that cleansed Iranian universities of “non-Islamic elements.” In that case, Einstein would have followed the example of other Iranian academics by emigrating to the United States. If Einstein was a young student of physics in today’s Iran, his fate would not have been any different: Einstein would have applied for scholarships at universities in North America, just like thousands of other talented Iranian students who are leaving Iran.

Rather than pathetically making a Muslim out of Einstein, Shi’a News should ask the Islamic Republic authorities to improve the academic standards at educational institutions in Iran to nurture the young talents of Iran and prevent the brain drain.

49 thoughts on “Did Einstein convert to Islam?

  1. “Einstein wrote something in which he said he had converted to Islam and had become a Shiite Muslim and that he was a disciple of Imam Jafar Sadeq, says so in foreign books. Einstein says ‘when I heard about the ascension of the prophet Muhammad’ where he had ascended to heavens and come back and the house door was still shaking, a process which was faster than the speed of light. The prophet went quicker than the light that walks, I don’t know how much is it? 300,000 km per second! The door knocker was still shaking and the prophet had come back and he had seen all the heavens too. This is the very same relativity movement that Einstein had understood. Similar to what Mullah Sadra had understood before him, a quintessential movement, not a positional movement like crossing the road taking ten minutes, a movement of light or rather a spiritual movement faster than the light moves, Einstein said ‘when I heard about the narratives of the prophet Muhammad and that of the Ahle-Beit [prophet's household] I realized they had understood these things way before us.”

  2. Hi
    I believe in equality between human beings and I know that other than just giving each person his faith
    However, Shia Muslims and insulting you in your article and you have forgotten your past!
    Did you forget that you’ve theft of Muslims in the Crusades?
    Do you know anything about the Muslim scholar of Iranian scientist?
    Do you know a lot of Muslim inventions and discoveries to Western scholars, Muslims took to his name?
    Do you even know his Imam Sadiq and science?
    They did not know whether the Quran is?

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