A Singular Woman

JLH has translated an article about an Iranian-born woman named Maryam Mirzakhani, who made the headlines earlier this month when she won the International Mathematical Union’s Fields Medal.

The translator includes this note:

While this is not as dramatic as some reports on our life-and-death struggle with Islam, it illustrates what I think of as “the Fjordman Effect.” I think back to the time before the West European purge of dissenters began, before Breivik et al., when I enjoyed reading Fjordman’s well-researched studies of various fields of endeavor — scientific, commercial, philosophical — that detailed the inventiveness and industry of Dar al-Harb, and by contrast exposed the vaunting presumption and willful ignorance of Dar al-Islam.

The translated article from blu-News:

Iranian Is First Woman to Win Mathematics Prize

Every 4 years, the International Mathematical Union awards the Fields Medal, which is regarded as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. Iranian-born Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to receive it.

For the first time, the Fields Medal — awarded every four years since 1936 for outstanding discoveries in mathematics — is being given to a woman — Iranian Maryam Mirzakhani.

At age 17, Maryam was one of the first girls to participate in the Mathematics Olympiad, and she won a gold medal. This specialist in geometry earned her doctorate at Harvard University. She moved to Princeton University in 2004 and was offered a professorial chair at Stanford University in 2008.

In August 2014 the 37-year-old was the first woman, as well as the first person from Islamic Iran, to receive the Fields Medal, which — as the Richard Dawkins Foundation informs us — was awarded for the first time in 1936. Mirzakhani received the distinction for her “outstanding contributions to Geometry and Dynamic Riemannian Surfaces and their Modular Spaces,” in which she combined “methods of diverse fields like Algebraic Geometry, Topology and Probability Theory.”

The Islamic World — Lacking in Scientific Achievement

Maryam Mirzakhani’s achievement is noteworthy because it is an absolute exception in the Islamic world. Besides the fact that as a woman and a scientist she is non-existent in the Muslim world, there is the fact that up until now there have been only two Nobel Prize winners in the “hard” sciences,” i.e., the natural sciences, from the Arabic Muslim world — Abdus Salam (Physics, 1998) and Ahmed Zewall, Chemkstry 1999).

Elias James Corey (Chemistry 1979) and Peter Brian Medawar (Medicine 1960) were also Nobel Prize winners, but were both Arab Christians.

“Nothing Intelligent since the Middle Ages”

As reported by blu-NEWS, Briton, Richard Dawkins — leading evolutionary biologist — antagonized the Islamic world a year ago by tweeting that Islam “had produced nothing intelligent” since the Middle Ages. He also noted that Muslims worldwide had won fewer Nobel Prizes than the graduates of Trinity College, Cambridge. To date, ten Nobel Prizes — 8 of them so-called “soft” Nobel Prizes, for peace and literature — had been awarded to Muslims. There was a brief time in the Middle Ages when Muslims had accomplished great things, said Dawkins, but not much since then. The reactions to this statement were predictably violent.

For Maryam Mirzakhani, who is famous in her Iranian homeland, this success was only possible in a free society.

21 thoughts on “A Singular Woman

    • JLH tells me that she is married to Jan Vondrák, a Czech theoretical computer scientist at IBM Almaden research Center, and they have one daughter.

      • Not only does she have a Czech husband, but a daughter named “Anahita” – the name of an ancient Iranian goddess… so has her husband converted to the Religion of Peace? Or has she committed one of the biggest indiscretions possible for a Muslim woman, by marrying an infidel?

        • “Anahita” is a Mazdaean (i.e. Zoroastrian) yazata, that is to say, a kind of angel or junior deity.

          Her worship dates from pre-Mazdaean times in Central Asia, when she was considered a goddess.

          Since this is the name Dr. Mirzakhani gave her daughter, are we sure the mother is actually Mohammedan, rather than a member of the Mazdaean minority, many of whom have made their egress from Iran in the years since 1979?

          This question of religion often stumps me regarding various Iranians and others from the Islamic world, since it is not our custom in the West, especially in the United States, to list or refer to personal religion in any professional context.

          And it is not correct simply to assume that anyone from the Mohammedan-majority countries is a Mohammedan.

          This is especially true because the percentage of non-Mohammedans born in that region who have fled to the West is higher than the percentage of Mohammedans born there who have moved here. Not to mention that non-Mohammedans in that region, or from that region, have always outperformed Mohammedans in every field of human endeavor which lies outside the Islamic core competencies of raping, kidnapping, bombing, and beheading.

    • yes, she’s married. Her husband is at MIT. They have a three year old girl.

      This is her biggest, but not her first award:


      An essay that does not have the usual bumf about girl mathematicians not getting enough attention:


      You can find the usual MSM drivel if you search her name and the Boston Globe.

      Yes, she is an outlier, but a determined one. This didn’t just fall in her lap; her best friend is another gurrl mathematician. They attended high school in Tehran together and managed to get the same practice sheets the boys’ school was given.

      What comes across is a kind of determined curiosity built on a foundation of deep patience as she works for years on some small aspect of her larger concerns.

      Then again her areas of wonderment are so far beyond my ken I have no idea WHAT she ponders.

  1. Importantly, one should note that her achievments are in spite of, rather than because of islam (to which I refuse to assign a capital letter no matter how much the spell checker prompts me to do so).

    In addition I should say that Abdus Salam was as I believe, an Ahmadi, a member of a persecuted minority of heretical muslims, so not a sunni or shiite.

  2. Why is this surprising?

    From birth, they are indoctrinated to believe that questions are the tool of the devil, and that everything in the world is caused by direct action from the heavens.

    On top of that, most of the elites in that region of the world pay lip service to education while they loot their treasuries to fill their offshore accounts and buy European real estate. They are largely content to rely on Western expertise for large-scale projects, rather than developing their own local expertise.

    This article may be of interest, especially for the fact that, during the “Golden Age” that part of the world relied on non-Muslim minorities for their achievements:


    • “This article may be of interest, especially for the fact that, during the “Golden Age” that part of the world relied on non-Muslim minorities for their achievements:”

      That’s not a completely accurate summary of what the article said:

      “The deficiency in Muslim science and technology is particularly intriguing given that Muslims were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago — something that distinguishes them from, say, the peoples of Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa.”

      My reading of the article is that Muslim countries are not totally hostile to science or engineering, but that the Islamists and the engineers/scientists maintain a wall between them, out of mutual self-interest. The scientists don’t want to be dead, accused of heresy, but the Muslim leaders recognize the benefits of technology. So, they simply don’t address each other.

      This gives situations like that of Abdus Salaam, who was a member of a Muslim sect persecuted and not recognized in Pakistan, who argued for the use of reason in Islam, but who pioneered the Pakistan nuclear development that now allows Pakistan to threaten India and pretty much sponsor Islamic terrorism without fear of military retribution.

      This brings up the question of whether we in the West really want to advance the conditions in the Muslim world to advance science. The advancement of science in Islamic countries will most definitely NOT be accompanied by any application of reason to Islamic philosophy or goals. The development of Islamic religious thought is the domain of Islamic “theologians” and imams, generally totally free of any scientific knowledge.

      So, the more scientific knowledge and technical skills in places like Pakistan or Iran, the more destructive power and financial resources are put into service for traditional Islamic objectives: the spread of sharia law.

      As the case of Abdus Salaam illustrates, scientific creativity and devotion to reason by one person does not mean the Islamic state will be any less aggressive. And even the rational Muslim, like Salaam, will work to the advancement of the Islamic state.

  3. I’d suggest that whatever this woman has achieved it is despite islam and not because of it. The iranians, for all their hubris about their past so-called civilisations hasn’t much to show for its centuries of islamic repression.

  4. It should be noted that while Iran is a Muslim country every Iranian (and only 50% are Persian) faces an identity crises over naming a child – Muslim or Persian (or other). It is pretty clear that she is a ‘moderate Muslim’ but I suspect she is barely Muslim at all. Anyway – good on her.

  5. A close relative of mine used to work as an Administrative Assistant for a Jewish scientist from Iran who got out with his family when the Shah’s govt. fell to the islamics.

    She just told me there is a large community of EX-PAT Iranians who consider themselves PERSIAN and do not follow Islam in California. Many of them are well educated and her Jewish boss was an accepted part of that community . They had parties and many social events that her boss and their family also attended. This was back in the 1990s.

    I wonder if this exceptional gal is a part of the PERSIAN community?

    • Yes, I sort of wondered that myself, if she is in fact Jewish. I have close friends in Los Angeles, Orthodox Jews of Eastern European ancestry like me, who tell me that the Persian Jewish community is quite large there. I’ve also met Persian Christians who found a safe haven here in the US, free of Islamic persecution.

  6. About the Physics Nobel prize of Abdus Salam: I read in an interview with another Noble prize winner Simon van de Meer that Salam launched a broad campaign among physicists to become nominated. Van de Meer stated that Salam should not have shared in the Noble prize of 1979.

    • In certain quarters he is also known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. 😉

  7. May I inject a little bit of raysism into this? Iranians are not of the same DNA provenance as Arabs, Palis, Pakis, Berbers and that whole lot. They are what White Supremacists still like to call Aryans, i.e. proto-Indo-Europeans. That their ancient culture evolved in ways I don’t like and eventually Islam destroyed them altogether is another thing, but as a long-ago friend of a group of (pre-Khomeini), French-fluent and secular foreign scholar Iranian astronomers, astrophysicists and physicians, I can attest that there is the DNA and IQ in that people to produce lots more people like that woman. Too bad they have gone to the dark side.

  8. For what it’s worth, the only Iranian/Persian I know is a Christian. She is proud of her Persian heritage, and maintains many of her cultural traditions. But she is definitely a Christian.

  9. I note that while she was apparently born in Iran, most of her education(particularly her higher education) was in the west. Is it really an “Iranian” accomplishment?

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