Most Jews, Christians and Muslims believe, as I do, that our lives are in the hands of God. Unfortunately, some believe that the true statement “You will not die before your time comes” justifies mistreating their body, neglecting their health, and ignoring basic safety precautions. They misunderstand what religion teaches.
A colleague decided at 40 to stop learning. Her career then died, illustrating the importance of continuous learning. I personally also dislike change, but have taught myself to embrace it. That habit considerably enhanced my career as well as my capability outside work. I believe that when people avoid learning new skills, it is because they don't think they can, or don't accept that it will raise their value in the job market.
My recorded 26 minute talk on what Christianity and Islam have in common, and how they differ. The talk also covers the origins of violent Islamist extremism and how to counter it. It was originally given to about 45 pupils at Flixton Girls' School in Manchester.
I was interviewed for six minutes on freedom of speech. My interviewers found it hard distinguishing between the boundaries of polite behaviour, and legal boundaries enforced by the state. I made it clear that people are free to insult Islam as much as they wish, and supported the right of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish. The full 50 minute programme can be heard on the linked page.
After the 2017 general election the Conservative Party no longer has a majority in the House of Commons. I consider that the Government needs to come up with a UK negotiating strategy that is agreed with the key interested parties, namely the other political parties, the devolved administrations, and the Mayor of London. While this may seem difficult, the EU has managed to devise a negotiating strategy agreed by the other 27 members states. Finally, Parliament should ask whether the final negotiated EU departure agreement is better or worse than remaining within the EU. If it is worse, Parliament should instruct the Government to seek to keep the UK within the EU.
All of us want ourselves and our families to be safe and secure. Wanting this for other Muslims is also understandable. However our duty as Muslims does not stop there. It extends to everyone. Jews suffer far more hostility per person than do Muslims so Muslims must combat antisemitism. I covered this in my five-minute speech at the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester's interfaith iftar.
"Fintech" looks like disrupting conventional finance. A reader asked why this is not happening in Islamic finance. One reason is the much smaller size of Islamic finance. Conventional finance offers much bigger rewards to successful innovators. I believe another important reason is religious conservatism in Islamic finance, with innovative concepts having to be justified within narrow historical modes of legal analysis.
The Ramadan Tent Project brings together people of all faiths and none to celebrate iftars. I recently attended and spoke at one of the iftars at Manchester University. I was asked to speak about the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. I briefly explained its history, why it was needed, and the key reasons why it has succeeded.
Both extremist Muslims and anti-Muslim bigots often contend that Islam and freedom are incompatible. The book "Islamic Foundations of a Free Society" contains nine essays by various authors. The Henry Jackson Society hosted a panel event, with the speakers being Azhar Aslam (a chapter author), Usama Hasan, and me. The page has a full sound recording and the text of my panel contributions.
After a death, relatives and friends need to grieve properly, to avoid long term mental harm. Collective grief is also vital for communities when struck by horrors such as the Manchester bombing. In a diverse society, the rituals cannot be taken from just one religion. Instead, the community needs to come together in an inclusive way. Manchester has demonstrated this, showing it will not be terrorised or divided.
Muslims born and raised in Britain have gone on to commit the mass murder of their fellow citizens. Parents are primarily responsible for preventing children becoming terrorists. Achieving this requires not teaching them some damaging beliefs, while teaching some positive beliefs. Governments also have a role to play.
Like many cities around the world, Manchester has now suffered terrorist mass murder. The bomber's background indicates that he was motivated by his understanding of Islam. Muslim parents are responsible for their children's upbringing. If your child grows up to be a terrorist, you as a parent have failed. Defeating ISIS requires Muslims and non-Muslims to remain united, celebrating their shared humanity.
Banking regulations require banks to maintain large amounts of high quality, preferably risk free, assets which can be accessed almost immediately. Conventional banks maintain deposits with the central bank, which in the UK is the Bank of England. Islamic banks cannot do so, as such deposits are not Shariah compliant. The Bank of England is consulting about it offering a Shariah compliant deposit facility, and in my view it is nearly there.
Discussions have been held with the Government since 2011 regarding the possible introduction of Shariah compliant student finance. Progress has been made steadily over the years, albeit very slowly. The Government now has the statutory power to offer such finance. However the Government has not set any deadline for the introduction of the scheme. I remain hopeful that it will happen by September 2018.
Passover reminds all believers in God of His power and His concern for all who worship Him. The Quran give the Passover story in detail. The precise way anyone chooses to remember Passover is up to them.
Security measures, and reporting suspected terrorists, are necessary. However, by themselves they will not end terrorism. We need to avoid bringing up children with attitudes that leave them vulnerable to the appeal of terrorist recruiters. The specific messages required are different for Muslim children and non-Muslim children. Sadly, all too often, both Muslims and non-Muslims fail to accept responsibility for bringing up their children in ways that that will reduce the risk of their being radicalised.
In the UK Islamic mortgages are more expensive than conventional mortgages. There are good reasons for this discrepancy. Islamic banks lack the economies of scale achieved by conventional banks. Islamic mortgages also involve more, and more complex, legal transactions. As Islamic finance grows, the difference should narrow.
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.