RIYADH: This year’s King Faisal Prize winners received their awards in a glittering ceremony in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The annual gongs – held under the auspices of King Salman – are the most prestigious in the Muslim world and reward outstanding achievement in services to Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic language and literature, medicine and science.
The Service to Islam award was given jointly to former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Egyptian professor Hassan Mahmoud Al-Shafei.
The Arabic Language and Literature Prize was awarded to Professor Suzanne Stetkevych and Professor Muhsin Al-Musawi from the United States.
US Professor David Liu won the medicine prize while the scientific distinction was shared by Professor Martin Hairer from the UK and Professor Nader Masmoudi from Tunisia.
The Islamic Studies Prize, which this year focused on the Islamic heritage of Al-Andalus, was suspended because the nominated works did not meet the necessary criteria.
Mwinyi was honored for his active participation in Islamic advocacy and the promotion of religious tolerance. He established Islamic schools and translated numerous resources and references in hadiths, jurisprudence and the biography of the Prophet Muhammad into Swahili, the language spoken by millions of people in East Africa.
Al-Shafei, who served as president of the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo from 2012 to 2020, has held several academic posts and established a series of institutes concerned with Al-Azhar. He also helped establish the International Islamic University in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
The Arabic Language and Literature Prize was awarded jointly to Stetkevych, chair of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, and Al-Musawi, professor of Arabic and Comparative Literary Studies at Columbia University .
Stetkevych’s extensive research and numerous works have analyzed Arabic literature with unparalleled depth, from the pre-Islamic period to the Nahda/revivalist period. His research approach, which is characterized by the application of varied methodologies, has resulted in the renewal of the critical perspective and methods of studying classical Arabic poetry.
The research and studies of the literary critic and novelist Al-Musawi have had a great impact on students and researchers of Arabic studies in the Arab world and the West, thanks to his distinctive methods of presentation, analysis, interpretation criticism and openness to Arab and international creation. texts in prose and poetry.
Meanwhile, the Medicine Prize has focused on gene-editing technologies. Its winner Liu, director of the Merkin Institute for Transformative Technologies in Healthcare, invented the first so-called base editor to make changes to DNA and genes by replacing letters in the base of DNA.
Hairer, who holds the chair of probability and stochastic analysis in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College, was one of the winners of the science prize. His work covers the general area of probability theory, with an emphasis on the analysis of stochastic partial differential equations. He recently developed the theory of regularity structures which gave precise mathematical meaning to several equations that were previously outside the scope of mathematical analysis.
The other co-winner of the science prize, Masmoudi, professor of mathematics at New York University in Abu Dhabi, has unraveled the mystery surrounding many problems in physics that have remained unsolved for centuries.
He found a flaw in the mathematical equations of (Leonhard) Euler, who for more than two centuries had described the movements of fluids under all circumstances. Masmoudi discovered that the equations did not apply to all circumstances, as previously thought, and his findings helped solve a series of puzzles related to fluid modeling, such as weather forecasting.
Since 1979, the King Faisal Prize has awarded 282 laureates from 44 different nationalities who have made outstanding contributions in the service of Islam and humanity in general.
Each winner received a $200,000 prize, a 24-karat gold medal and a certificate written in Arabic calligraphy signed by the president of the jury, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.