Friday, 20 June 2014

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day - Friday 20th June 2014
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
University of Miami ~ Department of Religious Studies

World Cup fever continues to strike. I’ve been following some of the matches, including last night’s, and watching how significant this event is globally. Just the other day an American news piece asked - what is the most important city to the world cup? Rio? Sau Paulo? The city was in fact Sialkot in Pakistan which has produced all the footballs for the World Cup. The city was also home to my parents before they moved to Scotland in the 1950s.

I sat watching in amazement as Sialkoti women, most of whom were fully veiled, were seen hard at work making and testing footballs. I wondered how many stereotypes this short news piece would have crushed in the minds of those watching. But the story is not all positive, a few years back there were accusations against the Sialkoti manufacturers of child labour. This seems to have been rectified but there is now discussion about how little the workers are paid in relation to how expensive the footballs are.

We are all connected to the aspirations of a good life that children and women in Sialkot have. A colleague wrote a book a few years ago that I, as a Muslim, could also identify with. It was about shopping and Christianity and how buying and selling in our connected world required careful thought on helping those less well off.

Thinking about upholding goodness is an ethical duty obligated on every Muslim, in work and play. The pomp and glory of big events often hide a behind-the-scenes reality that I think many of us don’t want to delve into. There is competition and the chance to connect across borders but there are also real lives, harsh realities and sometimes challenges to our stereotypes. Balancing our fun and play with values-added is the challenge in a world that connects us all.