Al-Farabi and Elon Musk

Al-Farabi and Elon Musk

Living in Turkey is amazing on many levels, but it has its downsides. When you live in Istanbul, if you don’t put in a special effort, you can get sucked into too much locality. There are so many issues in Turkey, about daily life that you can forget what is happening outside of your little world. You can loose sleep over government policies that diminish freedom of speech, the impossible Fatih tender or the social media screening that is going on. All in all, you can lose sight of the broader picture very easily.

While government supporters are busy trying to dominate social media outlets with an outcry to lynch Mehmet Ali Alabora, Elon Musk reminded me of why I love technology.

Elon Musk is a South African-American inventor and entrepreneur. He is best known for founding SpaceX and for co-founding Tesla Motors and PayPal (originally

At SpaceX, he is the CEO and chief designer, and at Tesla Motors, he is chairman, CEO and product architect. Musk is also chairman of SolarCity.

He stunned the world with his latest project: Hyperloop. You all must have read about it by now. According to BBC “In a paper outlining the Hyperloop proposal, Mr. Musk suggested the solar-powered system would be a faster, safer, less costly, and more efficient mode of transport between Los Angeles and San Francisco than the high-speed train currently under development.”

Right after I read and understood the project, our own speed train came to mind. Why couldn’t we have such a project done in Turkey? Yes, people like Nicola Tesla and Elon Musk are very rare, maybe only a handful of people live in each generation who can think outside the box in their manner and change the way we all think about technology and the world’s possibilities. But why have we had no one so far? Sometimes I listen to debates about Turkey’s contribution to technology or even a greater topic, the contribution that has been made by the Islamic world to the world technological advancement, and I am shocked that we can be proud of people who lived centuries ago.

People in authority can still say that al-Farabi was a great scholar, so we must learn about him better. Of course we should learn our history better. But what about now? The real question should be why we don’t have a person such as Elon Musk rather than why we don’t know our history better.

The answer to the question lies in our system of technology management, education quality, entrepreneurial system and the environment that people live and grow up in.

Unfortunately, today’s Islamic world is very far away from finding the next al-Farabi and turning him/her into Elon Musk. I don’t aim to put the blame on anyone or any religion or any government but this is the fact.

We must change this fact as the world needs exceptional people from all over the globe.