A leading Iranian cleric claims Albert Einstein was a Shiite Muslim. The head of the Assembly of Experts in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatolla Mahadavi Kani, claims there are documents proving Einstein embraced Islam and was an avid follower of Ja’far Al-Sadiq, an eighth-century Shi’i imam, according to a report issued by Haaretz.
A video by Ayatolla Mahadavi Kani quotes Einstein as saying that when he heard about the ascension of the prophet Mohammed, “a process which was faster than the speed of light,” he realized “this is the very same relativity movement that Einstein had understood.”
The ayatollah adds: “Einstein said, ‘when I heard about the narratives of the prophet Mohamad and that of the Ahle-Beit [prophet's household] I realized they had understood these things way before us.’”
The claim that Einstein converted to Islam, is, of course, ludicrous. Although it is not surprising. Christians have also tried to claim Einstein as one of their own.
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
- Einstein 1954
“The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.”
- Einstein 1952
The fact is, Einstein was neither Christian, nor Muslim. Nor did Einstein embrace the Jewish religion. Einstein identified himself as being agnostic. To claim he was anything other than agnostic is to disrespect the man, and his legacy.
“It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems.”
In a letter written to philosopher Erik Gutkind in 1954, a year before Einstein’s death, Einstein expressed his candid views on religion, God, and the Jewish people. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
“For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Widely admired for his genius, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics, and one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century.