Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pakistani-American Founder Osman Rashid's Chegg Plans IPO

Book rental companies like Silicon Valley based Chegg, founded by Pakistani-American Osman Rashid and Indian-American Aayush Phumbhra, are helping American college students deal with rising textbook costs. Their business is inspired by Netflix movie rental business. Other major contenders in this space are Bookrenter,, eCampus, BookByte, Direct Textbooks, Student Book Trades and Textbook Recycling.

Osman Rashid
Osman Rashid is the son of  a Pakistani diplomat. He was born in London and raised in Islamabad. He came to the United States from Pakistan in 1990s to study electrical engineering at University of Minnesota and earned a BSEE there.

Rashid is a serial entrepreneur who has founded four companies so far. He left Chegg in 2010 to start his current gig as CEO at Kno which he also founded along with fellow Pakistani-American Babur Habib. Habib has a BSEE from University of Minnesota, MS from Stanford and Ph.D. from Princeton. He serves as CTO at Kno. The Silicon Valley based company offers electronic textbooks and associated software for K-12 and college courses. It is backed by Intel, Goldman Sachs and Netscape founder Mark Andreeson's VC firm Andreeson Horowitz.

In its filing for initial public offering, Chegg says it plans to raise nearly $200 million by offering its stock for sale at $9.50 to $11.50 a share. At the midpoint of the range, that would value Chegg at nearly a billion dollars.

The name Chegg combines chicken and egg. It rents textbooks for a semester at a time at about 50% off the retail price. It has 180,000 titles in its catalog. It also offers more than 100,000 electronic textbooks and has rolled out offerings like helping high school students find colleges and scholarships, according to New York Times.

Like its competitors, Chegg offers book return guarantees and shipping speed. Chegg is a selling point for your own books as well as textbook rentals at low prices. What differentiates Chegg is that it offers course reviews and grade distributions as well as homework help for selected courses. Along with first hand reviews of a course, you get a detailed schedule of the books you need for it. Chegg claims it now reaches about 30 percent of all college students in the United States and 40 percent of college-bound high school seniors.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Monday, October 21, 2013

Malala Inspires School Enrollment Surge in Pakistan

Malala Yousufzai has inspired about 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls, to enroll in primary schools in Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) province, according to the provincial education minister.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, told Bloomberg News. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people." KP government has raised school funding by 30% to accommodate the surge.

Pakistan's literacy gender gap of 29% is among the worst in the world. KP province, which includes Malala's home in Swat Valley, is the main contributor to it.

In spite of the right-wing backlash against Malala's recognition in America and Europe, it seems that little girls and their parents see Malala as a great role model. Both private and public schools are seeing a flood of new students, according to Ahmad Shah, the chairman of Private Schools Management Association, an organization that represents 500 schools in the area. Bloomber reports that his school has seen a 10 percent rise in admissions this year, the most since the Taliban's ouster. "In our schools, girls are saying I want to be like Malala," Shah said. "They are relating themselves with her in many ways."

Pakistan Education Gender Gap Source: Al-Jazeera

Pakistani mass media have also joined in the campaign by showing Malala as a positive role model. GeoTV has extensively covered events surrounding Malala's  Nobel prize nomination and book launch, including her many interviews in English, Pashto and Urdu.

Burka Avenger, a new Geo TV animated show, features a female teacher superhero who uses the power of books and pens to defeat opponents to girls education. In her speeches, Malala has repeatedly talked about the power of the books and the pen to defeat terrorists in Pakistan.

Malala Yousufzai is a great role model for Pakistani girls. Regardless of the motivations of the West in promoting her, it's good to see the positive impact from the Malala phenomenon. Let's hope it helps dramatically reduce the high number of out-of-school children in Pakistan.

Here's a video of a discussion about Malala's impact and other current topics:

Israr Gandapur murder; Malala and child education in Pakistan; Iran-US negotiations from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Viewpoint from Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses with Riaz Haq (, Sabahat Ashraf (iFaqeer;  and Ali Hasan Cemendtaur Israr Gandapur’s murder over Eid and PTI’s continued sympathies for Taliban; Malala Yousafzai’s rise to fame and its impact on child education in Pakistan; and Iran-US negotiations.

This show was recorded at 1 pm PST on Thursday, October 17, 2013.

وزیر قانون اسرار گنڈاپور پہ خودکش حملہ اور گنڈاپور کی شہادت۔ طالبان کے لے تحریک انصاف کی حمایت جاری ہے، ملالہ یوسف زءی کی شہرت اور اس کا اثر پاکستانی بچوں پہ، ایران اور امریکہ کے مذاکرات، فراز درویش، ریاض حق، صباحت اشرف، آءی فقیر، علی حسن سمندطور، ڈبلیو بی ٹی ٹی وی، ویو پواءنٹ فرام اوورسیز، امریکہ میں پاکستانی، سلیکن ویلی، سان فرانسسکو بے ایریا

पाकिस्तान, कराची, विएव्पोइन्त फ्रॉम ओवरसीज , फ़राज़ दरवेश, रिअज़ हक , सबाहत अशरफ , ई फ़क़ीर, अली हसन समंदतौर, दब्लेव बी टी टीवी, सिलिकॉन वेली, कैलिफोर्निया, फार्रुख शाह खान, फार्रुख खान

পাকিস্তান,  করাচী,  ক্যালিফর্নিয়া, সিলিকোন ভ্যালি, ভিয়েব্পৈন্ট ফরম ওভারসিস

Виещпоинт фром Оверсеас, Цалифорния, Карачи, Пакистан, Фараз Дарвеш, Риац Хак, Сабахат Ашраф, И-фаяеер, Али Хасан Цемендтаур 

، رياض  حق ، إي  فقير ، صباحات  أشرف ، علي حسن  سمند طور ، فيوبوينت فروم  أفرسيس ، كاليفورنيا، كراتشي  ، باكستان ، 

പാക്കിസ്ഥാൻ  കറാച്ചി  കാലിഫോര്ണിയ  വീവ്പൊഇന്റ് ഫ്രം ഓവർസീസ്‌ ഫരശ് ദര്വേഷ്  രിഅശ് ഹഖ്  അലി ഹസാൻ സമണ്ട്ടൂർ  ഐ ഫഖീർ  സബഹറ്റ് അഷ്‌റഫ്‌ 

પાકિસ્તાન,  કરાચી,  ફરાઝ દરવેશ,  રીઅઝ હક, સબાહત અશરફ, અલી હસન સમાંન્દ્તૌર, કાલીફોર્નિયા, વિએવ્પોઇન્ત ફ્રોમ ઓવેર્સેઅસ 

पाकिस्तान, कराची, विएव्पोइन्त फ्रोम ओवेर्सेअस, कॅलिफोर्निया, फराज दरवेश, रिअश हक़, साबाहत अश्रफ, ई फ़क़ॆर, आली हसन समंद तूर

פקיסטן, קראצ'י, קליפורניה, הטליבאן, האיסלאם.

Audio of the program is here:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in South Asia

Burka Avenger

Out-of-School Children in Pakistan

Malala Moment

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Eid al Adha with Good Hygiene and Humane Treatment of Animals

Nearly two million Muslims from all over the world gathered in the plains of Arafat in Saudi Arabia today as part of the annual ritual of Hajj this year. Tomorrow, they will celebrate Eid al Azha, a commemoration of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his beloved son Ismael to please Allah. The Hajj pilgrims will sacrifice animals in Mecca, as will hundreds of millions of their fellow Muslims across the world.

Eid al Adha is arguably the most important Islamic festival. Clearly, the followers of Prophet Muhammad  (SAW) are motivated by their desire to  carry out the commandments of Allah. However, it seems that there  are at least two important Islamic injunctions that are often ignored by the faithful as discussed below:

1. Humane Treatment of Animals:

The way the sacrificial animals are transported and slaughtered during Eid al Azha violates the basic Islamic requirement of humane treatment. They are crammed into small spaces and subjected to overcrowded conditions aboard ships, trucks and other vehicles for transportation. Butchers are often unqualified. The knives used are not sharp enough to reduce pain and suffering. Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, has written a scholarly opinion on this issue. Here's an excerpt from it:

"..the Prophet (PBUH) did not simply command us to respect the ritual and recite “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar!” ([I begin with] In the name of God, God is the greatest!) with which animals could be killed for food. He required animals to be treated in the best possible way and spared needless suffering. As a man had immobilised his beast and was sharpening his knife in front of it, the Prophet [PBUH] intervened to say: “Do you want to make it die twice? Why didn’t you sharpen your knife [away from the animal’s view] before immobilising it?”. Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] had asked everyone to do their best to master their range of skills: For a man whose task was to slaughter animals, this clearly consisted of respecting the lives of the animals, their food, their dignity as living beings and sacrificing them only for his needs, while sparing them unnecessary suffering. The recitation accompanying the sacrifice was only to be understood as the ultimate one that, in effect, attested that the animal had been treated in the light of Islamic teachings during its lifetime. This recitation was certainly not sufficient to prove that those teachings were respected: An animal slaughtered correctly according to Islamic ritual, but ill-treated during its lifetime, therefore remained, in the light of the Islamic principles transmitted by the Messenger, an anomaly and a betrayal of the message. The Prophet [PBUH] had warned: “He who kills a sparrow or any bigger animal without right will have to account for it to God on Judgement Day.” The Prophet [PBUH] thus taught that the animal’s right to be respected, to be spared suffering and given the food it needed, to be well treated was not negotiable. It was part of human beings’ duties and was to be understood as one of the conditions of spiritual elevation."

2. Health and Hygiene:

Sahih Muslim quotes Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as saying: “Cleanliness is half the faith (Emaan).”

The implications of this Hadith are often forgotten during the festival of Eid al Azha when blood and guts of the sacrificed animals are scattered everywhere and sometimes rot for days before being collected by sanitation workers. Such neglect exposes the public to significant risks of the spread various diseases.

To address this public health and safety issue, governments in Muslim nations should  consider regulating  animal sacrifice and restricting slaughter to designated areas during Eid al Azha.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a good model  for at least for the major cities in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world.


Muslims, including Islamic scholars, often focus on the technical minutiae while ignoring the larger message of Islam. Professor Ramadan summarizes this problem well in his article for Gulf News as follows: "Ritual slaughter is a simple, day-to-day example, which perfectly reveals the contradictions within contemporary spiritual teachings. It emblematises the whole problem: Obsession with form regardless of substance, confusing means and ends, adoption of reform that is not suitable for transformation and over determining norms while neglecting meaning: It is at the heart of all contradictions."  It's time for the Islamic world to recognize such contradictions and correct them.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Among Top Meat Consuming Nations 

Eid Mubarak: Pleas Don't Forget Terror Victims

Huqooq-ul-Allah and Huqooq-ul-Ibad

Electricity Theft in Ramadan 

Muslim Santa Claus in Pakistan

Taliban Are Enemies of Islam and Pakistan

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Malala Recognized; Taliban Respond to Talks Offer; Musharraf Re-arrested; US Govt Shutdown

There has been mixed response in Pakistan to Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai's Nobel Peace Prize nomination, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud says he is ready for peace talks with Pakistani government, Former President Pervez Musharraf is granted bail and allowed to leave Pakistan by Supreme Court and then his re-arrest is swiftly ordered by another judge in Lal Masjid case, US government is shut down and there are now worries over potential for US debt default.

Malala's International Recognition: 

Malala Yousufzai has brought into sharp focus Pakistan's wide gender gap in education. With 27% difference between male and female literacy rates, Pakistan's gender bias in basic education is among the worst in the world. Malala's heroic effort raises hope that recognition of this serious problem will lead to greater focus and funding to address it. Some in Pakistan have criticized Malala Yousufzai by questioning her authenticity and her credentials to represent Pakistan. They argue that the West is using the teenager to advance its own agenda.

While recognizing that the West does suffer from the "White Man Savior Complex", I find such concerns overblown and fundamentally off the mark. I think Malala is a great ambassador for Pakistan doing a great service to Pakistan women who make up half the population of the country. I am absolutely certain that she has seen more of Pakistan and understands Pakistan's problems better at her tender age than most adult Pakistanis.

As to those who claim the Taliban care for girls' education, let me suggest that they look at Taliban's record in Afghanistan. The meager number of just 800,000 school children in Afghanistan included few girls in 2001 when the Taliban ruled the country. Today, there are 8 million children, 40% of them girls, attending schools in Afghanistan.   In Pakistan's Swat Valley, home of Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani Taliban blew up girls school and terrified them in 2009, and followed up with attempt to kill Malala (then 14 years old) on her way back from school in 2011.

Taliban Chief Mehsud's Response to Talks Offer:

In an interview with BBC, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud has responded to "All Parties Conference" (APC) offer of talks to end violence. His response can be summed up as follows: "Seek an audience with me here at my home and I will talk with you". It reflects his confidence and clarity in the face of severe confusion and weakness communicated by Pakistani politicians.

Mehsud said he has two basic demands: 1. America must leave the region and 2. Pakistan must impose his version of the "Shariah" law. He vowed to continue his "Jihad" until both of his demands are met
Meanwhile, there is a report in New York Times that Hakimullah Mehsud's deputy Lateef Mehsud has been working for Afghan intelligence agency (KHAD) which has close ties with India's intelligence agency RAW.

It seems to me that "peace talks" with the TTP will fail just like similar efforts in the past did, most notably in 2009 in Swat. There are clear parallels here with the 26-year long LTTE insurgency in Sri Lanka which, after many broken peace deals, ended when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa finally decided to declare all-out war against terrorists in 2006, ending in a crushing defeat of the LTTE in 2009 with Pakistan's help. I think Pakistani leadership will eventually do what the Sri Lankans did. I just hope they do it soon to save unnecessarily prolonged cost of  tens of thousands of innocent lives and unneeded damage to property and national economy.

Framing Musharraf:

A Judge of Islamabad High Court has forced police to register a case against Gen Pervez Musharraf in Lal Masjid case. Soon after bail was granted in other cases on trumped charges, the General's arrest was ordered even though no formal charges have yet been filed by a prosecutor.

Clearly Pakistan judges are continuing their vendetta against  the former president by framing him while releasing real terrorists. These right-wing judges are sending a clear message to the Army and the politicians: "Don't mess with our fellow Islamists. If you do, you'll be framed in multiple cases of murder and treason".

Meanwhile, these same judges are releasing terrorists in large numbers, including the recent release of the man who attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team which brought an end to international cricket in Pakistan. The conviction rate in terror cases is in single digits in Pakistan. No wonder Pakistan is considered a epi-center of terrorism.

US Government Shutdown, Worries Over Debt Default:

The US government has been shut down for several days. Only the "essential" services are operating. The shutdown has highlighted the need for government services. It has undermined the anti-government rhetoric (Government is the problem. not the solution) of Republican Conservatives and  Ayn Rand Libertarians.

Meanwhile, the debt ceiling is approaching and, in the absence of Congressional authorization to borrow more, there could be a catastrophic debt default which could send shock waves across the globe.  The US dollar is the world's main reserve and international trade currency. The US debt is held by most of the nations of the world  in their central bank reserves which underpin their currency value and economy, highlighting the fact that the US remains an exceptional country and indispensable nation in the current world order.  This places a specially heavy burden on US leadership to behave responsibly or risk raising serious questions about their claim to being "exceptional".

Here's a video discussing the above topics:

Nobel for Malala; Taliban Chief's Response to APC; Musharraf's Re-arrest; US Debt Default Worries from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Sri Lanka's Victory of LTTE

Malala Moment: Profiled in Courage...Not!!

Judges' Vendetta Against Musharraf

American Exceptionalism

UN Malala Day

Treason Trial of Musharraf

Does Sharif Have an Anti-Terror Policy?

Blowback of US Drones in Pakistan

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube

Monday, October 7, 2013

Reza Aslan at Islamic Scholarship Fund Dinner in Silicon Valley

Islamic Scholarship Fund's annual dinner and fundraiser drew over 300 attendees and raised nearly $100,000 in Silicon Valley on Saturday October 5, 2013. Best-selling author Reza Aslan was the keynote speaker. The event was co-sponsored by several major organizations including Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Human Development Foundation (HDF), Zaytuna College, Shia Association of Bay Area (SABA), Islamic Society of East Bay (ISEB), South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) and United Muslims of America (UMA).

L to R: Reza Aslan, Ejaz Naqvi
The mission of the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) is to improve the understanding and acceptance of Islam and those who practice it by increasing Muslim American representation in the professions that influence public policy and public opinion. The fund offers scholarships for Muslim students to encourage and help build careers in professions which are key to shaping public opinion and public policy in the United States.

After a brief introduction to Islamic Scholarship Fund by ISF president Hamid Razapour, the attendees were served dinner and treated to a popular one-woman monologue, Dirty Paki Lingerie, by Aizzah Fatima, a Pakistani-American actor and playwright who previously worked for Google as an engineer. She played a couple of characters to offer a glimpse of some of the real-life situations faced by first-generation Muslim immigrants and their off-springs. The first character she played was that of a mom working the phone speaking in her native accent to find a suitable husband for her daughter, followed by her funny portrayal of the American-born daughter dealing with the cultural divide faced by the children of first-generation Muslim immigrants.

L to R: Marium Turab, Ejaz Naqvi, Riaz Haq, Hamid Rezapour
Dr. Reza Aslan's keynote was in the form of Q&A with ISF board member Dr. Ejaz Naqvi.  It was mainly focused on Aslan's recent best-seller book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" which generated and benefited from a lot of controversy surrounding the author's interview aired on Fox News. The interview soon went viral in the social media and the book sales soared.

Iranian born Aslan who grew up in the United States explained that his parents were Muslim but not particularly religious. His interest in Jesus began as a teenager when he became a devout Christian but reverted to Islam a few years later. As he studied Jesus, he realized that Jesus is not really a historical figure. Most of what the world believes about Jesus comes from the New Testament. The only reference to Jesus that Aslan found outside  the New Testament is by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus who mentioned "James, the brother of Jesus, the one they call messiah".

Aslan said that there was strong rivalry between James, Jesus's brother and close companion, and Paul, who is credited with much of what the Christians believe about who Jesus was. Aslan said Paul never met Jesus and yet his descriptions of Jesus have been the main source of what is in the New Testament. It was Paul, not James, who saw Jesus as divine rather than human, according to Aslan.

Responding to a question about how Americans perceive Islam,  Aslan said , "No one in America believes that all 1.5 billion Christians have a single interpretation of Christianity, yet they seem to expect that all 1.5 billion Muslims have one common understanding of Islam".

When asked why he wrote a book about Jesus and not Prophet Mohammad, Aslan said, "I did write a book about Prophet Mohammad. It's a best seller titled "No god but God"".

Reza Aslan is very articulate, telegenic and knowledgeable. He is an effective advocate for interfaith harmony in the face of vicious attacks of various hate groups against American Muslims since 911. I found his performance in TV debates surrounding bigoted opposition to "Ground Zero Mosque" to be particularly impressive. It would be great for interfaith harmony in America if the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) can help produce many more Reza Aslans among American Muslims.

Here's a video clip of Reza Aslan's interview with Fox News:

REZA ASLAN stuns foxnews presenter about his... by RohailAsghari

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Haq's Musings

Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley

Saudi Prince Funding Hate in America

Exposing King's Hypocrisy

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Duke University Study on Muslim Americans

How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation

Early Anthrax Probe of Pakistani-Americans

Violence Against Indians in Australia

First Haji in US Congress

Inside the Mind of Times Square Bomber

Home-grown Terror Plots Seen as FBI Entrapment

Milgram's Experiments on Obedience to Authority