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Fresh thinking from a British Muslim
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I publish this site to help people to learn, succeed personally, and change society by taking action.

Curriculum for Cohesion

Curriculum for Cohesion develops humanities curricula to prepare young people for a multi-faith world.

I am a patron. It is probably the most important charitable activity of my life. See more at the project website.

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."

The logo

My logo is the Mandelbrot set.

Newest pages on this site

The latest 20, newest first, are listed below.

Review of "Mapping Integration" edited by David Goodhart
Integration poses challenges for many countries including the UK. The word "integration" itself has many contested meanings. The Demos think tank has been focusing on the issue and one output is this collection of short essays which is well worth reading. It is free to download.
Success tip: Learn to cope with internet trolls
Trolls seek to provoke you with inflammatory communications. That can lead you to waste your time. Bad responses may weaken your cause, or even be defamatory. Achieving your objectives requires being selective about who you respond to, and being calm, courteous and precise when responding.
The principles of job creation
Some countries are much better than others at creating private sector jobs. The principles behind job creation are straightforward, but many countries fail to implement them for a variety of political reasons.
TV Discussion: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel on campus
A students union's recent vote to boycott Israel led to this TV discussion. I stressed the need to distinguish between boycotting Israel and boycotting West Bank settlements which are illegal. Furthermore would an academic boycott also extend to Israeli Arab academics?
TV Discussion: Extremism in universities and the organisation "Student Rights"
Many argue whether there is any problem of unacceptable speakers on university campuses. I believe the issue is real and consider the government could help universities by publishing a register of hate preachers. However I do not consider "Student Rights" is a credible arbiter.
TV discussion: Where next for the fleet of British Drones leaving Afghanistan?
Armed drone aeroplanes are used by a growing number of countries but their use against terrorists is often controversial. I appeared in a 19 minute discussion about them on the Islam Channel. Despite the title, most of the discussion was about US drone strikes, their legality and casualties.
UK Government consultation on Shariah compliant student finance
The UK has a generous government provided student loan scheme. However some Muslim students do not use it for religious reasons. In October 2014 the Prime Minister committed to providing a Shariah compliant student finance scheme. The Government is now consulting on a proposed design. The consultation closes on 12 June 2014.
Sukuk - taxation of legal form or economic substance? The role for tax incentives?
In this interview on sukuk taxation I explain that no country taxes purely on legal form or purely on economic substance. I also discuss whether there is a role for tax incentives, and point out that in practice the benefits of incentives get shared between issuers and investors.
A reflection on the “Shariah wills” hysteria
English law gives people wide freedom to decide how their estate is left under their will. As many Muslims believe that Islam prescribes how their estate should be left on death the Law Society has published a practice note to assist solicitors advising such clients. However the practice note has been attacked in the media and by some politicians. This led me to reflect on the causes of anti-Shariah prejudice in Britain.
How should indirect taxes deal with Islamic finance? - Video
This 33 minute lecture explains the main indirect taxes: transfer taxes, sales taxes and value added taxes (VAT) from first principles. I then discuss how VAT should apply to financial services generally, before considering why VAT presents particular problems for Islamic finance transactions. I also suggest some possible ways forward.
Tax Treatment of Islamic Finance in the MENA Region - video
This 27 minute lecture explains the methodology and findings of a major study on the taxation of Islamic finance in the Middle East and North Africa. As well as summarising what we found, I give recommendations for how MENA region countries should modify their direct tax systems to facilitate Islamic finance.
Drawdown pensions, death and charity
If you have a drawdown pension, how is the fund treated when you die? If you have a drawdown pension and a free estate, and want some money to go to charity and some to your heirs, what is the most tax efficient way? I have written a short explanation with some illustrative examples.
Should accounting firms undertake Shariah audits?
My seven minute speech outlines the roles of the Board of Directors, the internal Shariah Department, the Shariah Supervisory Board and the external auditors. I explain the role I see for the external auditors in auditing Shariah compliance, and who I believe should report to stakeholders.
A late 2013 survey of the UK Islamic finance industry
The clouds of the global financial crisis are lifting. However the UK's Islamic banks are still unprofitable and the best performer had 2012 ROE of only 2%. The announcement of a UK sukuk was the highlight of 2013 for the industry.
Success tip: Take care of yourself
It is easy to forget that you can achieve little without your health or if you are not around. That means it is essential to take care of your health and personal safety. Furthermore your life matters not just to you, but also matters to everyone you can help.
My Clare College "Alumnus of the Year" speech
In this 22 minute acceptance speech I explain 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.
TV discussion: Does Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 need reform?
All security measures need to balance individual freedom with the protection of society from those who wish to do us harm. I participated in a TV discussion looking at the policy issues around TA 2000 Sch 7, which allows someone passing through a port or an airport to be detained for up to nine hours for interrogation.
A tale of two banks - video
This is a 26 minute video of my lecture for the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance, comparing the accounts of Bank of London and the Middle East plc and Islamic Bank of Britain plc. It explains the business of banking, and shows how much can be learned by reading published accounts.
A niqab and burqa ban in Britain?
Some European governments have banned wearing a niqab or a burqa in public. While the UK Government opposes such a ban, a backbench MP is promoting a Private Member's Bill to enact one. Although the Bill is very unlikely to be passed by Parliament, it is damaging Muslims' perceptions of the Conservative Party.
When does anti-Zionism become antisemitism?
When Israel is criticised, its defenders often contend that the critics are motivated by antisemitism. The accusation is made even when the critics are Jews. I encountered the argument that anti-Zionism is always antisemitic for the first time a few years ago. However once you define your terms carefully, the question ceases to be controversial.


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(c) Mohammed Amin.

Everything on this site, other than comments made using the comments facility, is written by me in a personal capacity and should not be attributed to any organisation with which I may be associated. None of it constitutes professional advice, and no legal responsibility is accepted to anyone who acts, or refrains from acting, as a result of reading or watching anything posted on this site.

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