Curriculum for Cohesion
Curriculum for Cohesion is a collaboration between academics, teachers and employers that develops humanities education to improve the lives of young people in the 21st Century. I am a patron; it may be the most important charitable activity of my life. See who else is involved at the project website.
What is on this site?
Writings to help people to learn more, to succeed personally and to change society by taking personal action.
Top 20 pages
The pages I most recommend listed in alphabetical order.
- A brief introduction to Islam for non-Muslims
- For many years non-Muslims have asked my wife and me for a simple and short introduction to Islam. Unable to find anything quite suitable, I decided to write it myself.
- A personal view of the Middle East conflict
- 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.
- Accounting for sukuk under IFRS and AAOIFI accounting standards
- My chapter from a new book which uses a hypothetical example to show how the two sets of accounting standards can give very different accounting results for the same transaction.
- Blasphemy should never be a crime
- 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.
- Islamophobia – a trap for unwary Muslims
- 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.
- Muslims misguided enough to abandon Islam are free to do so
- Apostasy is a controversial subject, and this item generated more comments than any other blog I have written.
- Playing Russian roulette with my baby's health
- 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.
- Reading the Quran
- If you want to understand the Quran and don't speak Arabic, you need a translation, but where do you start?
- Reflections on visiting Yad Vashem
- Yad Vashem is the most important centre documenting and commemorating the Jews who died during the Holocaust. I visited it at the beginning of 2010, and found it very moving.
- Report on the cross-border taxation of Islamic finance in the MENA region
- 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.
- The benefits and costs of joining a political party
- Few British citizens are members of a political party. I explain how much influence joining a party gives you, even if you don't have time to get actively involved.
- The corporate duty to avoid tax
- Directors of a publicly held company have a duty to protect the company's assets. That responsibility includes ensuring the company does not pay more tax than the law requires. Accordingly, except where it might otherwise damage the business, the directors of the company have a duty to ensure that it avoids tax where it can.
- The importance of speaking proper English
- You are more likely to succeed in life if your spoken English is outstandingly good. I give some simple advice on how you can improve it.
- The Euro – Conception, Complications & Prognosis
- 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.
- The importance of being personally successful
- I meet many young people whose main goal is to work for a charity or an NGO. They underestimate how personal success enables you to do more good for others.
- The Muslim Council of Britain’s Need for Constitutional Reform
- In early 2011 the MCB announced that it was reviewing its constitution. I made a written submission to the review committee which readers unfamiliar with the MCB may find informative.
- The proper boundary of "Political Islam"
- Political Islam causes concerns in many countries. When is it legitimate for a politician to be inspired by religion and when is it not?
- Think about your CV
- 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.
- Triangulating the Abrahamic faiths
- How do you measure the relative closeness of Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
- Write to the media and politicians
- In Britain, we have the right to free speech, and should make our voice heard. I have explained why we should write letters and website comments, and set out how to maximise your effectiveness.
There is a lot more on the site; use the menu above or the one page view.
What you do matters
We cannot change others except by persuasion. However, each of us can change ourselves, lead by example and take personal action. That changes the world.
Read "What you can do."
My logo is the Mandelbrot set.
Newest pages on this site
The latest 20, newest first, are listed below.
- How attending Cambridge changed my life
- After he heard that Clare College had chosen me as Alumnus of the Year 2014, Lord Sheikh hosted a celebratory dinner. My impromptu speech enabled me to share some very personal thoughts, including a personal experience of racism.
- Career prospects in Islamic finance in the UK
- My chapter in a report published by Simply Sharia to coincide with the World Islamic Economic Forum being held in London. I explain that there is only a limited need for Islamic finance specialists in the UK. In practice experience for these careers generally needs to be acquired in the conventional finance industry.
- A UK Government sukuk at last!
- The UK has been thinking about issuing a sukuk since 2007. However it has kept putting it off as not being value for money. Accordingly David Cameron pleasantly surprised many people when he announced at the World Islamic Economic Forum that he wanted the UK to go ahead with an issue. I wrote an article the same day welcoming the announcement and answering some questions from 2008 about the implications.
- TV discussion on religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue
- This was a wide-ranging 54 minute discussion with a moderator and three panellists, including the two Co-Chairs of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Good coverage of how the MJ Forum came about and what it has achieved.
- A simple introduction to sukuk
- Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the London World Islamic Economic Forum that he wanted the UK to issue a sovereign sukuk. This has led many to ask what a sukuk is. I have written a simple explanation.
- Selection as Clare College Alumnus of the Year 2014
- Each year, Clare College selects an Alumnus of the Year. This year, I nominated someone else, and later voted for someone else. Despite that, I was chosen. I am delighted as attending Clare College transformed my life.
- To help others, make a success of your own life
- Young people are often idealistic and want to help other people. They need to remember that your ability to help other people is much greater if you are successful and rich yourself. Nobody should feel guilty about concentrating on their own personal success and wellbeing.
- Immigration is not a racial issue today
- Historically, "immigrant" has regularly been used as a code word for "non-white". Consequently attempts to restrict immigration have often been seen as disguised racism. However the major influx of white East European immigrants after 2004 has broken this link in the minds of many people, including ethnic minorities. That can transform the politics associated with the immigration issue.
- Do councils make excessive use of bailiffs?
- The Money Advice Trust recently published a report that showed councils used bailiffs 1.8 million times in 12 months. I took part in a TV discussion asking if it is fair, and whether it disproportionately impacts upon Muslims.
- The scale of Islamophobic attacks since the Woolwich murder
- Anti-Muslim attacks have increased since Drummer Lee Rigby's murder on 22 May 2013. This TV discussion asks whether the scale has been underestimated, with up to date information from Tell MAMA regarding the trend. It also discusses the role of the media, and the policy implications for politicians and the Muslim community.
- Technology means that our writings will long outlive us
- Historically most people left few written records. However the use of electronic media today generates vast amounts of writing that will be preserved indefinitely. This repository will be of immense value to future historians.
- Being true to yourself aids success
- Many people adopt a false personality for interviews and other purposes. However being authentic and true to yourself is less effort than trying to adopt a fake persona. That reduces your stress levels with health benefits and extra ability to concentrate on work. Also being found to be deceitful seriously reduces your chances to succeed in life.
- How to make your public comments on websites more effective
- Many website articles allow comments to be posted. Even if there are many other comments, quickly adding your own comment can be worthwhile and takes little effort. I outline some rules that will increase the impact of your comments.
- The importance of showing Muslims are normal citizens
- Muslims are normal British citizens with much to contribute to society. A short exchange of comments about the commercial value of psychological testing reminded me of the need for Muslims to speak up about issues that have nothing to do with religion. Doing so reinforces their position as full citizens.
- My speech at the Curriculum for Cohesion Dinner - Video & Text
- Curriculum for Cohesion is an education project to help all English school pupils which has a glittering array of supporters. I am passionate about it because education transformed my life. I had a chance to explain this in my speech at the recent annual dinner.
- Reflections on the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher
- Mrs Thatcher's death in April 2013 was a major national event. While many, including me, regarded her as the nation's saviour, others detested her. I discuss the polarisation of views. I only saw Mrs Thatcher three times, and sent in my reminiscences for a story published in the PwC former partners' magazine about partners' encounters with her.
- TV discussion on the UK's system for taxing international companies
- Since the Public Accounts Committee held hearings into Starbucks, Amazon and Google, tax avoidance by international companies has had much media coverage. However the issues are complex and often misunderstood. I recently took part in a short TV discussion which provides a simple introduction to some of the issues.
- Response to criticism of Tell MAMA which monitors anti-Muslim attacks
- The CST monitors anti-Jewish incidents and Tell MAMA does the same for anti-Muslim incidents. Both organisations report a similar mix between online incidents, verbal abuse and serious violence. It was no surprise that anti-Muslim incidents spiked after the Woolwich murder. However this has led to some commentators downplaying the seriousness of Tell MAMA's findings, and seeking to discredit the organisation.
- Muslim Jewish relations in Britain after the Woolwich murder
- The Woolwich murder has given an excuse to anti-Muslim bigots to demonise and attack Muslims. The leadership of the Jewish community, which has memories of suffering similar hostility, has condemned such bigotry. British Muslims and Jews share many common interests and below the level of national umbrella bodies, there is growing evidence of Muslim Jewish co-operation in Britain.
- TV phone in - Britain post the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich
- The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on 22 May 2013 was a terrible crime. Sadly but predictably, anti-Muslim bigots have used it as an excuse to demonise and attack Muslims. I took part in a one hour phone in programme on the Islam Channel shown live on 30 May 2013, receiving reactions mainly but not entirely from British Muslims.
Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place.