Why Religious Fundamentalists Aren’t Prosperous

May 18, 2015

I was born in Libya.
Because there was a big demand for nurses in the late 1970s. And my Indian parents moved there for a better job opportunity than they would have in their homeland.

Libya was and is a country ruled by one religion.
There is no separation of church & state.

And since they had only religious schools, my parents moved back to India once I turned 5.

While India is sometimes known as Hindustan (land of Hindus), there is a large population of Christians & Muslims. At least that’s the way I remember it.

My parents had the foresight in the 1980s to send me to English schools. This was rare.

Our school even had a computer in 1991.

I have no idea how they got one. But all of us fifth graders got a few minutes to play some shoot pixel airplanes with pixel cannon game.

I’ve run into plenty of super religious folks in my life. In Libya. In India. In America. They are my friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

There seems to be a correlation between super religious folk and lack of prosperity. I wanted to know why.

Before we came to America, my relatives & I went on a religious pilgrimage.
Only men were allowed. No women. Unless you’re super old. I don’t know why.

There were many sights and sounds. A lot of walking barefoot. Sleeping on floors with thin mats. Eating simple vegetarian dishes. Waking up at 4am to pray. Mass of humanity all piled in. And a lot of b.o.

One thing I’ll always remember seeing is devotees rolling around on the ground, shirtless, on top of rocky gravel. As a form of prayer, I guess. Or for good luck. Maybe the more you punished yourself in devotion, the more god will answer your prayers?

But these types of people were never successful.
They rarely got the breaks in life. They lived in huts. Got sick often. Had no money. Suffered a lot.

Why weren’t their prayers answered?
And if their prayers are never answered, why do they keep praying more, rather than try something new?

I figured out the answer after hearing Steve Jobs explain why Silicon Valley is more prosperous than other places.

1. California has great weather.

2. Nearby are some of the best universities in the world.
Stanford & University of California Berkley.

3. Best universities bring the best students from all over.

4. Best people create best things.

Prosperity seems to have a pattern.

There once was a time when the Middle East had their act together.
It’s known as the Islamic Golden Age:

the period in Islam’s history during the Middle Ages when much of the Muslim world was ruled by various caliphates, experiencing a scientific, economic, and cultural flourishing.

This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786 to 809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world sought to translate and gather all the known world’s knowledge into Arabic.

The Abbasids were influenced by the Quranic injunctions and hadiths, such as “the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr,” that stressed the value of knowledge.

information was democratized to the extent that, for probably the first time in history, it became possible to make a living from simply writing and selling books

During this period, the Muslims showed a strong interest in assimilating the scientific knowledge of the civilizations that had been conquered.

Fundamentalism is close-minded. Prosperity requires open minds.