Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Narrowing of Silicon Valley Muslim World View

Over the past year, since I moved to the Silicon Valley I have been interacting with various community groups and organizations. Paying lip-service to many, and endorsing a few fully where I was able to engage with folks who were on a similar thought pattern as mine.

I wont name names here, but every organization or project I would attempt to dangle my feet in, I would very quickly start thinking on how to get out. Initially every entity looks attractive from the outside.

An openness to accept new ideas is missing in this community. If you try to make statements other than what is acceptable within the context of a certain ideological framework, you will surely find yourself out numbered and marginalized by the vast majority. It's as if there is a deliberate attempt by the Silicon Valley Pakistan and Muslim communities on a whole to shun out all-things-other, that is all things that don't related to religion and money.

Now I could be overtly generalizing, but take the recent Mohsin Hamid event at Stanford - Mohsin Hamid a renowned Pakistani novelist, author of two books "Moth Smoke" and "The Reluctant Fundamentalist".

The turn out was OKAY, but not great - I expected far more people, as there are a sizable number of Pakistanis in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area in general who have heard and read Mohsin Hamid's novels.

Further, in the recent Sahil Bachao campaign I helped spearheaded in the Silicon Valley, as part of the larger team effort in Karachi, Pakistan there was little interest displayed by the BayArea Pakistanis. My question is, aren't there any Pakistanis out here that have any iota of interest left for all-things-other than religion? If an event or cause doesn't make explicit reference to religion or making money, then it is not important. This seems to be the mainstream attitude amongst Silicon Valley Pakistanis and Muslims in general.

Many a times it is extremely frustrating dealing with the vast majority of the Silicon Valley Muslim and to some extent Pakistani communities who will brand you as "kafir" (unbeliever) upon the slightest notion that your views are not compliant to theres. This is a largely educated Muslim community, highly professional working in several of the fortune technology companies - however to much a due quite insular and impervious to listening to all-things-other than religion.

This intolerance to all-things-other, is a trait which is found in much of the Muslim world. Exactly the reason novel ideas aren't able to take root. How is a society to progress with such an attitude that shuns at all that don't see eye-to-eye with them. There is more to life than just religion and money, what about enhancing once culture, or rather cultures in the case of Muslims who come from a large cultural spectrum.

Culture is one of the all-things-other that has been shunned to the side, and replaced with religion. Religion is good, but not the only thing - there is much more to life. Your faith is merely a component, an important component mind you of your life.

Copyright C. Abdulrahman Rafiq

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