“I have decided the topic of our project, guys!” announced Ali from across the school canteen table.
“Thank God I don’t need to rack my brains anymore!” Omar heaved a sigh of relief.
“It’s about Bill Gates. We will write a letter to him to introduce Islam.” Ali said, smiling proudly.
Omar and Usman exchanged glances, and burst into fits of laughter that echoed in the entire hall.
“Alright, alright, now that you’ve had a good laugh at it, lend me your ears, goofies,” Ali smiled, pulling a chair to sit down.
“And why do you think this is such a novel idea, Ali?” challenged Usman.
“Because he is a genius, and he has the right to know the One Who granted him such a mind,” reasoned Ali. “Besides, he has some excellent qualities. I read all about his life, his passions, and his untiring efforts.”
Omar and Usman thought about it for a minute. They didn’t want to be made fun of in class. But then they had to agree it was an original idea.
“Okay, what do you know about one of the world’s billionaires? Shoot!” said Omar.
Ali bent forward excitedly: “He was a very active child. His father was a successful lawyer, and his mom was a school teacher and social worker. On school nights, Bill was not allowed any TV. Instead, the Gates family talked, played games, and read books.”
“Oh Lord, that sounds like my house,” said Omar.
“Bill was an avid reader,” continued Ali. “At the age of seven, he decided to read the entire encyclopedia. For Bill, thinking was an activity just like drawing and reading. He always looked for ways to challenge himself. He was left-handed. If he was bored at school, he took notes with his right hand.”
“How cool!” said Usman with obvious admiration.
“When he was eleven, he entered a contest at his church. Bill learnt seventeen pages of one of the sermons by heart, and recited it to the minister, without making a single mistake,” explained Ali. ”Bill won a dinner invitation for his family to a restaurant at the top of the famous Space Needle in Seattle.”
“That’s no big deal. Muslim kids learn the entire Quran! That’s hundreds of pages, and that too in Arabic – a foreign language, which most non-Arabs like us don’t understand,” protested Omar.
“Yeah! Technically each and every Hafiz child is a genius,” agreed Usman.
“That’s why it is so important for Bill Gates to know what Islam is all about,” reasoned Ali.
“So Bill Gates is a nerd, eh?” inquired Omar.
“Not really,” said Ali. “Winning mattered a lot to Bill. He always said: ‘I can do anything I set my mind to.’ Just because he was smart didn’t mean he wasn’t good at sports. He especially loved fast-moving games. Though he was small in size, he loved water-skiing, ice-skating, swimming, and downhill-skiing.”
“How did he get into computers then?” asked Usman, genuinely curious now.
“In seventh grade, Bill was excelling in math and science. His first encounter was with a teletype machine. He was amazed at what a computer could do. He began to spend all his free time in the computer room. He read every computer manual he could find. At the age of thirteen, he wrote his first programme for playing tic-tac-toe. However, since computer time cost money, Bill had to get a job. Bill and his friends were hired to find bugs and flaws in a software, and in return, they could use a huge computer worth a million dollars. Out of passion, Bill worked at nights on schooldays and on weekends – until midnight. Then, he would walk three miles home, in case he missed his bus.”
“Phew! That’s a lot of tough work for a young student!” Omar said.
“Well buddies, the world sees only a billionaire. It never knows the struggle, sacrifice, and back-breaking work this founder of Microsoft has done, starting as a child. He expected the same from his employees. He was so humble that he would sleep under his desk to get some sleep in between his all-night programming assignments. Today, he is retired. He has handed over the giant company to his employees, and has committed himself to philanthropy – to heal the ailing world,” said Ali.
“Well, I couldn’t agree more that a man like Bill Gates should learn about Islam, and make a wise choice for his eternal life,” Usman said.
“We are in, Ali. Let’s go for it.” Omar playfully punched Ali in the ribs.
Only time will tell if Ali, Usman, and Omar are successful or not. In the meantime, you may write to him, too.