Bill Gates Celebrates the First Anniversary of His Conversion to Islam
A year ago Bill Gates — who now prefers to go by the name of Abu Mai’saf al-Windaaz — gave up the life he had known to become a Muslim. The wealthy entrepreneur and über-geek left behind the power breakfasts and business suits, moved to Saudi Arabia, and put on a burnoose.
Gates of Vienna was fortunate indeed to be granted a rare interview by the nerd formerly known as Bill Gates.
Villa Beta Ri-LisWe spoke to the software magnate in his villa, Beta Ri-Lis, on the Red Sea coast not far from Jeddah. We sat on a low couch next to an intricately carved table on a cool terrazzo floor while a ceiling fan turned silently overhead. As we spoke, we drank sweet tea and nibbled on dates and nuts presented by unobtrusive servants.
Q : Tell us about your conversion to Islam. Was it a momentous experience?
A : It certainly was. I was at a conference with some of our software partners in the UAE, and, during the meeting, I noticed the Arab men across the table pointing at my face and whispering.
It turned out that the freckles on my face miraculously formed the words “Allahu Akhbar” in Arabic calligraphy. They showed me in a mirror, and it was true! Then they started telling me about the Qu’ran and the Prophet (peace be upon him), and it all came together in a giant convergence — Allah, my freckles, and me! And now, here I am.
Q : Amazing! What are some of the benefits you have found in your new faith?
A : Well, I guess one of the main things is the prescriptions about women. I’ve always had trouble with… you know, meeting girls, talking to them and so on. But Islam makes it easier, since the women have to cover up and all.
In fact, most of the time you don’t even see them.
Q : And do you find a way to make your faith fit into your business operations?
A : Oh, yes. We’re working with our Dubai partners on the release of a new Islamic software suite called Microsoft Islam 2007. It will have five separate packages, Microsoft Dawa, Microsoft Jihad, Microsoft Hajj, and so on. We’ve got a ways to go yet — we’re working on Virtual Hajj, so that pilgrims won’t have to physically go to Makkah to meet the Hajj specifications. I’m consulting with the Mufti of Makkah to get the application declared halal, so it can aid people in places like Bangladesh.
But not all the bugs have been worked out — we still haven’t perfected the virtual stoning of the devil, for example.
Q : And jihad?
A : Well, I like to think of jihad as the process of getting the bugs out of the spiritual system, both on a personal and umma-wide level.
It’s kind of like optimizing a network — setting the system parameters and protocols, registering the users (in this case, the faithful), establishing permissions, and enforcing restrictions. Think of Allah as the Network Administrator of Islam, with Mohammed (peace be upon him) as his Chief Implementation Engineer.
Q : Is there anything you miss about your old life?
A : Bacon. That’s about it. Wait; there’s also pulled pork barbecue.
Oh, and then there’s scrapple. And prosciutto...