I was asked to speak for 10 minutes to a primarily Muslim audience on why the UK should remain in the European Union. I focused on the importance of the EU to our economy. In particular I explained from first principles what the single market is about, and how it makes us richer, using the car industry and financial services as examples. I also pointed out how the most vociferous opponents of the EU are also often also anti-Muslim.
I recently gave the second Annual Religious Freedom Lecture of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society UK and Ireland Chapter. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 18 sets the global standard for freedom of thought, conscience and religion and it has my full support. I used the lecture to explain how the Declaration is consistent with Islam. My approach was to first explain the basic sources of Islam before going on to show how some key principles of Islam, clearly stated in the Quran, support religious freedom. 40 min audio recording with self-advancing PowerPoint slides.
A growing number of people are in defined contribution pension schemes. Many Muslims in such schemes want Shariah compliant pension arrangements. There is adequate Shariah compliant provision for the investment phase of pension schemes, but not for the retirement phase. In particular Shariah compliant annuities are needed to satisfy retirees' financial requirements. Developing a market for Shariah compliant annuities will also help sukuk issuers to access longer term funds than they can at present.
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.
Terrorists who are Muslims hold a relatively consistent set of religious beliefs which are shared by other Muslims not currently engaged in violence. Holding extreme views by itself damages peoples' lives, as well as increasing the risk of people going on to become terrorists. Government policies can reduce such religious extremism without infringing the freedom of religion. Some concrete proposals are set out.
It has become increasingly common for listed UK companies to repurchase their shares on the stock market. There is a clear rationale for such repurchases in the case of investment trusts trading at a discount. In the case of trading companies, I consider that the arguments put forward for stock market share repurchases instead of paying special dividends do not hold water. I illustrate the point with some detailed calculations. Accordingly I have now started voting against giving trading companies' managements the authority to make market purchases of shares.
Capital markets cannot function without reliable published financial information. In turn that requires independent auditors. The European Union sets out rules regarding listed company audits as part of overseeing an EU-wide capital market. While the detailed rules are primarily of interest to audit firms and the companies which engage them, private shareholders need to understand the factors that can impair effective auditing.
Why do so many investors, including investment professionals, perform poorly? The author contends that it is due to poor psychology, in other words behavioural errors. The book is clearly written, easy to read, and makes its case in detail. The author also shows us how behavioural mistakes can be minimised. Reading and applying it should improve the performance of all investors.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated during an interview that it was wrong to label people concerned about immigration as racists. The Islam Channel considered these comments controversial and organised a three person discussion for 17 minutes on their current affairs programme. I supported Justin Welby's views.
Having a "Prayer for the Nation" presupposes that we know what a nation is. There are some simple requirements for becoming one nation. I used this as my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester. Very briefly, we become a nation from our sense of shared history, from thinking of all citizens as part of our extended family, and from only using the word "Us" to refer to all Britons.
I know many Conservative BME MPs who represent very "white" constituencies. This led me to look at the data for all BME MPs in England & Wales, using the 2011 census information for Parliamentary constituencies. The exercise reveals that the Conservative Party selects candidates on merit, often selecting BME candidates for very "white" seats. However the Labour Party appears to primarily select BME candidates for constituencies with a relatively high BME population ratio. My page also has an Excel file and PDF file showing the BME ratio for every constituency in England & Wales and which party won the seat.
Conventional banks can hold liquidity deposits with the Bank of England. The Bank of England also lends money to conventional banks when required. However Islamic banks are not able to use these facilities as they are not considered Shariah compliant which makes their treasury management much more difficult. The Bank of England is currently consulting on how it might offer Shariah compliant central bank facilities. I have responded to the consultation, which closes on 29 April 2016.
Christians and Jews in Britain regularly pray for the well-being of our nation. British Muslims have not yet developed this custom. However a group of British Muslims have written a Muslim Prayer for the Nation, and given permission for it to be reproduced freely.
Ideas, good and bad, have a major impact on the world. 4 ½ years ago, in 2011 Curriculum for Cohesion set out to improve the education of young Muslims in Britain but we soon realised that its work is needed by all pupils, regardless of their religion. We have already changed the History education of millions of pupils in English schools. The project has also broadened beyond education in schools. However it needs more donors.
Muslim women are often disadvantaged when their marriages break up. For several years, Baroness Cox has been promoting her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill. Despite its neutral title, it is aimed only at Muslims. I consider that it is misconceived because my detailed review of the Bill concluded that it will fail to achieve its intended goals. However it will damage community cohesion. I have now written a short explanation of why the Bill is flawed. Readers living in the UK should write to their Member of Parliament before the House of Commons debate due on 11 March 2016.
Any translation of a book into another language needs great care, as it risks distorting its message. That is particularly true with religious texts. I regard what 2:62 says about Jews, Christians and Sabeans as a particularly important message from the Quran and was recently shocked to find a particular Quran translation putting the verse into the past tense, which dramatically changes its meaning. I have now compared how six Quran translations deal with 2:62. The two translations from Saudi Arabia convey a very different message than do the other four and appear intended to spread exclusivist religious views amongst Muslim readers.
Religious beliefs cannot be the basis of state policy, since no person has to accept anyone else's religious views. The issue of prostitution, where religious people (including me) have strong moral views sharply illustrates the point. Fiona Bruce MP has proposed criminalising the purchase of sex which I consider would cause more harm than good. Instead I propose legalised and properly regulated brothels.
This article, published in an Iranian magazine, assesses the present state of Iran's economy and looks at how it should develop. Iran's economy was severely damaged by the Iran / Iraq war, and by sanctions related to the nuclear dispute. The resolution of the nuclear dispute is a major opportunity. Iran is presently a middle income country, with very high levels of corruption, and its future development depends on addressing some key issues where the article makes some specific recommendations. The most difficult challenge will be increasing personal freedom, which in the long run is economically essential.
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.
Religious and empirical questions are answered by different methods. Accordingly confusing them is a serious mistake. Whether God says that money should only be gold or silver is a religious question. Whether the economy would function better by replacing fiat money with gold or silver is an empirical question. The empirical answer is clear. All advanced economies use fiat money because they run better than they did with gold as money.
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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.
Prime Minister David Cameron has consistently expressed concern about non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism. His most recent speech on this was given in Birmingham on 20 July 2015. While many Muslims have criticised his speech, in my opinion the Prime Minister is right. Non-violent extremism ruins the lives of those who fall into it, even if they do not progress to violent extremism.
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.
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.
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.
An individual's memories give him his identity. Similarly a nation is held together by its collective memories of the past. That makes history a vital subject to study at school, and afterwards. If a people forget their history, or never learn it, they stop being one nation and become just a random collection of individuals who happen to live in the same country.
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.
Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place.
(c) Mohammed Amin.
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