My Log - 2
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett:
A Couple of Contemporary Heroes
Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And there are men among them as well as women.
I am used to heroes – for, that is the story of Islam: one unbroken chain of heroes, male as well as female – so I have no difficulty in knowing or picking my heroes.
I had picked out Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as my heroes a long time now.
I recently added the name of Elizabeth Edwards to the list, for she left a mark on my mind, in her life as well as in her death.
A mother, wife, lawyer and hard-headed political personality, Ms. Edwards showed remarkable courage, poise and purpose in living as well as in dying.
She must inspire countless people both in how she lived her life and how she said goodbye to her family and this world when the icy hands of death reached out to claim her.
So, obviously, I am greatly impressed by Elizabeth Edwards.
But William Henry – Bill – Gates, that is who I want to talk about. I am in awe of the man.
I never really wondered – certainly not aloud anyway – about his age.
Or about his religion, so-called.
Or even about his politics.
All I have ever thought about in relation to Bill Gates is two things:
One, his rise to the chairmanship of Microsoft and all those massive mountains of money that went with it. How does one get to do that?
Is it genes, college, skills, hard work, luck, just what is it?
He is not a Berney Madoff, that is for sure.
Nor for that matter is Warren Buffett a Berney Madoff.
So, all those tens of billions upon billions of dollars, just by dint of whatever the man had and did, mostly in an honest and upright way? Is that all there was to it?
I just don’t seem to be able to get my brain around it, as they say nowadays.
So, it is his colossal success in his chosen profession and his seemingly limitless wealth that take Bill Gates half way to the top of my list of modern-day heroes.
But what puts him over the top is the alacrity with which he dumped his fortune – no less than $20,000,000,000 (twenty-billion dollars American) of it we are told – on the poor and the needy.
He must have been reading the Qur’an. For, those are some of the categories mentioned in the Qur’an to give money to: the poor and the needy.
In doing this, Bill Gates really fathered a new era in modern philanthropy.
So, between making money and giving it away in charity, I don’t think Bill Gates has a rival as a hero. He is surely my hero and I say God bless him.
I know, I know.
I know I am a Muslim. Not ashamed to come out, even though this may be a challenging time to do it.
And I know there are Muslims out there who may raise an eyebrow or two at a Muslim blessing a non-Muslim.
For, I don’t think Bill Gates is a Muslim. Not yet anyway.
And with some strong logic behind them I must say. But I know my stuff too.
So, when I say God bless Bill Gates, I know what I am talking about.
And then along comes Warren Edward Buffet, a man toting another whole bagful of $billions.
And what does he do? He does something every bit as amazing as Bill Gates.
He empties that bag on the table in front of Bill gates – to the tune of $20,000,000,000 (twenty billion US dollars, no less) I understand – and walks away telling Mr. & Mrs. Gates to behave themselves and give all that money away to the poor and the needy – once again, just like the Qur’an says.
For some reason, it is not how Mr. Buffett made his money – investment and industry that is how – that impresses me.
He has a kindly, clean and honest face anyway. And anyone who looks at him would tend to trust him.
And his company is not called Enron.
For that matter, his business is not even Halliburton, even though it too begins with the letter “H,” as in (Berkshire) Hathaway.
And his name certainly is not Madoff, Milken or Abramoff.
Even though America has its share of barons who robbed or bootlegged their way to fame and fortune, Mr. Buffett clearly does not appear to be among them.
So, it is not how Mr. Buffett made his money that impresses me and makes him a hero in my eyes. For, there seems to be little there beyond run-of-the-mill American entrepreneurship and business leadership.
But it is more how he disposed of a significant chunk of his wealth that makes me sit up and take notice.
It is that which makes him a hero in my eyes and which makes me say: What a man, Warren Buffett, God bless him!
In case anyone out there is wondering, let me make it crystal clear. It is my being a Muslim that makes me think and talk the way I do.
It is my Islam that makes me see the solid and almost matchless worth of people like Gates and Buffett and makes me want to raise them to the level of heroes that they are.
For, Islam means to be rooted in humanity and, in turn, to be able to claim the entire human family as your own.
That, by the way, is also my unbroken family tradition for over 1000 years. In fact, make it a nice round millennium and a half.
But before I go, let me crystallize these two questions one more time:
- Just how does one get to make that kind of money – $20,000,000,000?
- And just how does one give that kind of money away in charity – $20,000,000,000?
Surely, that is heroic at either end, no matter how you look at it – and by any standard or yardstick.
© 2010 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.