Friday, 23 July 2010

Life as a game of Backgammon

My blog's been getting pretty heavy lately, so much so that I almost feel weighed down by it. I thought it's time I dial down the seriousness and put on my rose tinted glasses again.
Yes, I am a big believer that life is determined by attitude. Roll the dice positively and if they don't give you what you want then roll again. And keep rolling until lady luck smiles.

Of course, as an avid student of backgammon I appreciate one has to play with the odds in order to win consistently. A principle as true of life as it is of trading short term set-ups on the stock market. Accepting a 'double' at backgammon when double sixes are required to win may give me a short term rush but, in the long run, it's not a recipe for success.
Some call it high probability trading. I call it common sense. Something which we all have but often choose not to use – sacrificed at the altar of emotion.
Anyway, I recently attended an inspiring seminar organized by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP). Two Muslim academics spoke about Islam and its role in the modern world, including Singapore.
The seminar brought back the feel good, fuzzy warm sensation which religion is supposed to bring into our lives. Not the mentally straining theological debates about hijab, alcohol or, dare I say it, suicide bombings. The seminar reminded me of the idealism which religion, any religion, ought to bring to the human condition.
Additionally, the seminar provided me an opportunity to raise my concerns regarding legislating a unitary vision of Islam with Singapore's very own custodians of Islam, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS). Unfortunately, I got the distinct impression that MUIS was not interested in my opinions – surprise, surprise!
Still, it felt good to personally inform a MUIS representative that legislating one particular version of Sharia in Singapore puts the Republic on a path not very different from the Taliban's Afghanistan. The main distinction being that Singapore's Sharia is not physically harsh and covers only certain aspects of personal freedoms. (Although I would suggest that distributing a dead person's assets contrary to her desire is not necessarily gentle behaviour.)
In the final analysis, Singaporean Muslims are told how to order their lives under threat of legal sanctions backed by the full force of the state.
Ok, so I am getting back to one of my pet peeves again. I better drop this subject lest people start to think I am a broken record. Or, more sinisterly, I start receiving vague, unsolicited warnings about deviating from the 'one true path.'
But, hey, what sort of a Grand Moofti would I be if I didn't pontificate from time to time? Let no one accuse me of being a fraud.
PS - The professors who spoke at the forum were Professor Abdullah Saeed (Sultan of Oman Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Melbourne) and Professor Azyumardi Azra (Professor of History, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta).

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