PowerPoint slides plus audio of my 18-minute presentation at the AGM of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. I considered the relative incidence of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, the identities of the perpetrators, and discussed the difficult question of when being anti-Zionist becomes antisemitism.
I have low expectations for Donald Trump's performance as US President. However I believe the fears of many Muslims are overblown. In my view the key message from Trump's election is the need for American (and British) Muslims to be politically engaged at all times, not just in the run-up to elections. In particular Muslims need to build alliances with Jews and Christians, and focus on their rights "as citizens", not "as Muslims."
My talk in Bradford on 2 April 2016 to a mainly Muslim audience. Members of groups suffering hatred often focus only on their own troubles. Accordingly I began by explaining to the audience that in Britain the rate of antisemitic attacks far exceeds that of anti-Muslim attacks. Then I outlined what individual Muslims should be doing to reduce anti-Muslim hatred. There are also actions that Muslim groups should be taking.
Our desire not to deliberately upset people has morphed into "political correctness" which prohibits some issues from discussion. My speech at the Durham Union Society gives two notable examples. Prohibiting some issues from discussion harms society by leading to bad decisions.
Does Islamic banking meet different needs from those met by conventional banking? Not in my view. However Islamic economists envisage Islamic finance as part of a completely different economic system. Underlying Islamic economics is "Homo Islamicus" who behaves quite differently from the classical "Homo economicus." In contradiction, I do not see the economic behaviour of real Muslims as being materially different from that of real non-Muslims.
Freedom of religion and belief, usually abbreviated as religious freedom, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a fundamental human right. No country that seriously restricts religious freedom can call itself free, and I would never voluntarily live in such a country. There are many excellent resources on freedom of religion and this page helps readers find some of them.
In the EU Referendum, voters chose for the UK to leave the EU. However the nature of the UK's future trade relationship with the EU needs to be determined. More trade restrictions are always worse than fewer restrictions. The article considers the most extreme restrictions possible and shows how the UK would suffer far more from these than would the rest of the EU.
Sensible time management requires you to often say "No." However whenever possible, say "Yes", especially when asked to do something you have never done before. It will develop you professionally and personally.
The main author of this book, Sara Khan, has practical experience of preventing young people being radicalised. The book covers the main groups in the UK which promote an extreme and intolerant version of Islam and shows how the Government's Prevent programme has been systematically maligned by its opponents. It also profiles the many unsung heroes who are promoting an inclusive vision of Islam in Britain.
Because we have it, Britons take religious freedom for granted. The best definition of religious freedom is in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Religious freedom is of course incompatible with theocracy. However there are limits to religious freedom, and your religious beliefs do not entitle you to harm other people.
Many of the things we want are incompatible. Achieving personal or professional success requires you to choose which you want. Even when goals are not incompatible, you need to decide where to focus your energies.
France, the USA and the UK are all liberal democracies which have seen significant Muslim immigration. While the UK and the USA face some challenges, overall Muslim integration in both countries has progressed well. However France lags behind. Secularism cannot be the explanation, since the US constitution is as secular as France's. In my view France's relative under-performance arises from refusal to accept that any change, no matter how minimal, is required of the French state.
I hosted a dinner for some current and former members of the Forum's Executive. During the dinner, I gave a 5 ½ minutes speech explaining how much the Forum has changed my life, and my analysis of why it has succeeded. I recorded the speech on my iPhone.
More than anything else, the world is shaped by our ideas and the way we think. That is why I direct my charitable donations towards organisations that generate and spread good ideas. Poor countries are poor because they are badly governed and because they pursue bad economic policies. Network for a Free Society sets out to address this deficit directly, by distributing good ideas around the world. I was struck by their 2016 Annual Report and have shared it on this page.
Views about the Arab / Israeli dispute are highly polarised, and the history is strongly contested. Israel's birth saw civil war between Jews and Palestinians and war between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Benny Morris has written a detailed, well documented and very readable account of the conflict. Everyone, regardless of their existing views of the dispute, will learn from reading it.
Citizens obeying the law is insufficient to achieve a cohesive society. We also need citizens to share a common set of basic values. The UK has been attempting for about 10 years to define these values for our society and there is now a short list. However the values need definition in language that courts can apply. Also I consider that calling them "British values" is a mistake.
I received an interesting enquiry from a PhD student in Germany. He expected Islamic banks to primarily use profit participating contracts. He found that, in practice, fixed return contracts overwhelmingly predominate in Islamic banking. I already knew this and explained to him that fixed return contracts are used for commercial reasons. Profit participating contracts are actually very unattractive to Islamic banks, and also to their customers.
Many Muslim women receive poor treatment when seeking a religious divorce from a Shariah tribunal. Accordingly, the Government is reviewing how Shariah law operates in the UK. The review has been heavily criticised by some people. I explain why the critics have missed the point.
A society is cohesive if its members belong to groups with many overlaps and linkages. Unfortunately the wrong Government actions can increase separateness. Instead government policy needs to focus on increasing cohesion. However the individual choices each of us makes every day are, if anything, even more important. Choosing to engage with people who differ from you will be more developing for you personally, and will also make society more cohesive.
Top 20 pages
The pages I most recommend listed in alphabetical order.
This conflict has endured for over 60 years. It matters because of the status of Jerusalem and because many see the conflict as a religious one. Achieving peace requires difficult concessions from both parties but a two state agreement is the only realistically acceptable solution. It is essential for Israel to avoid policies that would make a two state solution impossible.
Blasphemy features prominently in the news from time to time. Many believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence everywhere, as it already is in some countries. In the UK the blasphemy law only ever applied to Christianity, and has been abolished. I believe it should remain abolished. In my view Islam does not prescribe any penalty in this world for blasphemy.
Like many other Muslims, I am fed up with hearing the refrain "Why do Muslims not speak up and condemn the terrible things that are done in the name of Islam?" The reality is that Muslims have condemned terrorism time and again. However quite often the media gives very little coverage to the condemnations. They may get a slight mention, and then they are forgotten. Accordingly I have created this page and will add to it from time to time condemnations that I regard as particularly significant.
There are many Islamic finance glossaries available on the internet. I have create another due to some specific objectives about spelling and to give more detailed explanations than the typical glossary. The glossary will grow slowly as I add words to it. If there is a word you would like me to include, please let me know.
Being overweight has health risks and also makes career success harder. After receiving unwelcome news in my annual medical, over the year to July 2014 I reduced my weight simply by counting calories. It was much easier than I expected. You can read how to do it, or watch my 28 minute PowerPoint presentation with audio.
Many Muslims use the word "Islamophobia" as if it meant "hatred of Muslims." However it does not; the word Islamophobia has a distinct established meaning. Accordingly, when Muslims complain about Islamophobia when they intend to complain about anti-Muslim hatred, they are making a mistake. Complaining about Islamophobia makes it easy for people who really do hate Muslims to claim the moral high ground of defending freedom of speech. Instead, Muslims need to be focused and complain about what matters, which is anti-Muslim violence and anti-Muslim hatred.
Having a successful marriage requires taking it seriously, and making the right decisions, both before and after the wedding. While my wife and I have been happily married for many years, I have also observed many other people in unhappy marriages. Hence I have written 10 specific pieces of advice aimed at Muslim women. 8 of those are also relevant to Muslim men.
In this 22 minute acceptance speech I explained why I regard my life as so blessed, and why I do what I do in retirement. I also gave the students five pieces of advice, and encouraged them to give to the College.
Marrying your first cousin increases the risk of your children having a serious genetic disorder. As well as discussing the risks, I link a number of scientific papers, so that readers are not left in any doubt regarding the facts.
I am the principal author of this report published by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and the International Tax and Investment Center. It looks at the taxation of four common Islamic finance structures: commodity murabaha, sukuk, salaam and istisna in eight MENA region countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and also in the Qatar Financial Centre. The report recommends how these countries should adapt their tax systems to facilitate Islamic finance.
Why does capitalism work in the West, but fail in so many other countries? In the 1990s Hernando de Soto and his colleagues went fact-finding. They went into the streets of developing and former communist nations to learn what real people are achieving inside and outside the formal economy. They found that even poor people in such countries have assets and savings which could be used for successful capitalism, but nevertheless these countries are underdeveloped. In this book they summarise their findings and explain the key changes underdeveloped countries need to make to transform their economies.
An explanation of my view that the euro was created to increase the cross-border integration of european business and an analysis of what has gone wrong and what needs to be done. I forecast that all current members, even Greece, will remain within the eurozone.
Most people see only their own CV. I have seen many, most of them written in ways that would get them rejected by a recruiter. I have illustrated the failings with a real life "before" and "after" example.
Curriculum for Cohesion is an inter-disciplinary research project that is developing a method for understanding the nature of religion in a multi-faith world, with a focus on Islam, to inform the practice of teachers, lecturers, prison officers and the judiciary.
I am a patron. It is probably the most important charitable activity of my life.
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