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Wall Street Alchemists – World’s Savvies Favour a Muslim Term

By Shofi Ahmed:

On the way the money moves, the big world follows. And the folks who are ahead of the league, smartest savvies and technical nerds deemed as the aces making the world richer are dubbed as Wall Street Alchemists – a Muslim designation!

In today’s almost completely digitised world of financial markets Alchemists, quants are the math wizards and computer programmers in the engine room of our global financial system who designed the financial products on Wall Street as well. They are at the heart of the technological revolution in finance aims to dish out trading tools to trade at the speed of light.

The quants helped create a digitized money-trading machine that could shift billions around the globe with the click of a mouse. Without such astonishing fluidity in the global system, the world will lack its vital speed to move on is quite known. The Quants are the makers and shapers in the field that’s very relevant to all of us. Because it has an effect on our day to day life. As William Poundstone, author of Fortune’s Formula puts it: From blackjack to black swans, The Quants tells how we got where we are today.”

A top documentary film has been made called Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street. Reviewers say:

“The Quants is at once a masterpiece of explanatory journalism, a gripping tale of ambition and hubris, and an ominous warning about Wall Street’s future.

The idea of mathematicians running the financial world makes absolute sense now. Quantifying people’s behavior economically or better yet, in general, makes absolute sense as to why the world is in the condition that it finds itself in.”

Superb! But why these smartest folks in the room who make the world richer, make America stand on its affluent feet and can shift billions around the globe with the click of a mouse are called Alchemists – a Mulsim term?

Literarily the word Alchemy is derived from Arabic al-kīmiyā. However, here the designation is used to denote that they are the top brass. Second to none erudite season pros in their fields.

So is a Muslim term just being borrowed to describe what is simply the best or there is something more to it? Studies reveal that it’s not a fanciful word like guru chosen out of a whim at all. Alchemist has a solid tie with the golden Muslim era. Historically Muslim alchemists were the pioneering heavyweight players that laid on the pitch for the clamouring modern scientific era.

See many of our youngsters who are increasing in their numbers as we speak are filling the top positions across the western hemisphere, like policymakers at Number 10 Downing Street, Rumana Ahmed’s rise in Obama’s White House, they aren’t strangers at all. Since many of these native professionals who are already there are proud to call themselves Alchemists – our very own old flames!

The Quantas bearing Alchemists term essentially denoting smartness. It shows how the contributions of Arabic alchemists have left a deep mark that can’t be ignored even in today’s fast upgrading modern world.

The presence of the Arabic definite article al in alchemy is a clear indication of the Arabic roots of the word. Hypotheses about the etymology of the Arabic term al-kimiya hint at the possible sources for early alchemical knowledge in the Arab world.
Besides like today in Arabic alchemical books al-kīmiyā encompassed a big spectrum of excellence. For instance it tended to be a synonym of al-iksir (elixir) and was frequently used with the more general meaning of a “medium for obtaining something.” Expressions like kimiya al-sa‘ada (the way of obtaining happiness), kimiya al-ghana (the way of obtaining richness), and kimiya alqulub (the way of touching hearts) testify to the broad meaning of this word. What we now call alchemy was called by other words: san‘at al-kimiya or san‘at al-iksir (the art or production of the elixir), ‘ilm al-sina‘a (the knowledge of the art or production), al-hikma (the wisdom), al-‘amal al-a‘zam (the great work), or simply al-sana‘a. Arabic alchemists called themselves kimawi, kimi, kimiya’i, san‘awi, or iksiri.