Remembering Salam Qureishi (1936-2022): A Pillar of Silicon Valley's Muslim Community

Abdus Salam Qureishi, a successful technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, passed away last Saturday, August 6, 2022. He was 86. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un(‏ إنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ‏). He was a pillar of the Muslim community in Silicon Valley. Qureishi rose from humble origins in the Indian city of Aligarh and became very successful in the United States. He was very generous with his time and money in supporting the community. He helped build several Muslim community centers in San Francisco Bay Area.  He also invested in companies started by young Muslim entrepreneurs. I had the privilege of meeting him on many occasions while he was still very active in the decades of 1980s and 1990s. He and his wife came to our house for dinner and Yasmeen and I were invited by him for a private dinner with him and his wife at his house in Palo Alto, California.  

Abdus Salam Qureishi (1936-2022)

Qureishi was born in a poor family in Singahi village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He graduated with a Master's degree in Statistics from Aligarh Muslim University. In the fall of 1959, he arrived in the United States on a teaching fellowship from the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland. But shortly thereafter, he was recruited by IBM to work for them in the Silicon Valley, California.  He knew little about American football but he quickly learned about it and dramatically improved the performance of the Dallas Cowboys. Computerized sports analytics has now become more common among professional teams. A Pakistani-American Farhan Zaidi has made a name for himself in this field. Farhan is now serving as the general manager of  the San Francisco Giants baseball team. 

In an interview with the Sports Illustrated magazine in 1968, Salam said, “Until I was called to Dallas, I knew nothing about American football. I had learned to enjoy baseball because of its similarity to cricket. Now I think American football is easily the most scientific game ever invented.”  Cowboys President Tex Schramm later said, “We had an Indian who knew absolutely nothing about football and coaches who knew nothing about computers and less about Indians.” Salam's computer analysis helped the Dallas Cowboys pick players who turned the team into a top performer in the 1960s. 

Salam Qureshi went on to found  Sysorex Information Systems (SIS) in 1972. SIS became one of the leading providers of information technology solutions to the U.S. Federal Government customers worldwide. 

Qureishi helped build the first Islamic Center in San Jose and later the Muslim Community Center in Santa Clara, California. He was also active in supporting the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association which provided student scholarships and organized popular events like the Sir Syed Day mushairas (poetry recitals) that attracted thousands of people across the United States. Sir Syed was the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. 

Abdus Salam Qureishi was a successful technologist, an early Silicon Valley entrepreneur and an exemplary benefactor of the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area. May his soul rest in eternal peace! Amen!! 

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