"Reform", the magazine of the United Reformed Church, asked me (and also three other people) to summarise the UK political situation in 500 words. I covered the Liberal Democrats, Labour Party, Conservative Party, Northern Ireland and Scotland. All very concisely! The full magazine is only available to subscribers, but I can publish my own contribution.
Stockport Academy asked me to talk about the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I explained why some people think that Christianity and Judaism are closer to each other than either is to Islam. However, when you look at what the religions say about the nature of God, Jesus and salvation, that view is clearly incorrect. Judaism and Islam are much closer to each other than either is to Christianity.
The Israel / Palestine conflict arouses strong emotions in many people. Accordingly, teachers are often reluctant to cover it in school because it risks creating or aggravating conflicts between pupils. However, if schools do not teach it, pupils who care will get their knowledge about the conflict from other sources, many of them dangerous. Parallel Histories has developed an excellent way of teaching this contested history in a way that develops pupils' thinking.
In November 2018, I hosted a dinner for members of my extended family to celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary. A recent question from a reader on my page "Marriage tips for Muslim women (and men)" tied straight into something I said in my speech at the event. That question has led me to share the speech, as it also contains several other things I have learned about marriage by reflecting on my own experience.
This is my article in the 15-year anniversary book published by the magazine "Islamic Finance News." I illustrate some of the tax issues Islamic finance can cause, and explain why they arise. I also look briefly at countries around the world, both Muslim majority and Muslim minority, and explain why the UK has been a global pioneer in the tax and regulatory treatment of Islamic finance.
In a Durham Union Society debate, I spoke against the motion "This House Believes Class Governs Britain?" In reality, the answer is clearly yes, or clearly no, depending on how you read the question. Debating this question reminded me of a wider point. Many (but not all) political divides disappear once you are precise about the meaning of the question.
The editor of the magazine Islamic Finance News asked me what I expected from Mr Johnson's administration with regard to Islamic finance. I wrote a column explaining that leaving the EU will damage Britain's Islamic finance industry alongside the financial services industry generally. However I do not expect any specific action to harm Islamic finance.
Because Runnymede's 1997 definition of "Islamophobia" was seriously flawed, the word has been contested since then. However, it refuses to die. Meanwhile several revised definitions have failed to gain general acceptance. The Government is currently devising its own definition of Islamophobia. How a definition of Islamophobia will be used is rarely discussed. Accordingly, I wrote an article for the Conservative Home website explaining how I expect a definition to be used.
The ability to publish our thoughts online, and to share them using social media, has made it possible for everyone to speak to a large fraction of the world. Sadly however, the internet has facilitated intemperate and abusive speech, and the propagation of falsehoods. Much of this is due to anonymity online, which leads people to behave much worse than they would if their identities were know. We can all take action by refusing to engage with anonymous accounts: never respond to them, never share them, never follow them. I made this the topic for my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.
Habib Bank Zurich plc (which trades as Habib Bank AG Zurich) is a small British conventional bank. It now offers Islamic banking as well. I gave a presentation to their senior management team about the business opportunities. The presentation was based entirely on public domain information, and can be watched on my website page. To allow full and frank discussion after the presentation, I did not record the discussion session.
The Quran gives a significant amount of coverage to Jesus, including the story of the Virgin Birth. Despite that, I rarely hear Muslims mentioning Jesus. I used my post-Christmas "Thought for the Week" broadcast to ask why.
Tax advisers are normally reluctant to discuss real instances of tax planning. This page shares a real client problem that I solved in 1978. I was so excited by solving this problem that I have never forgotten it. It illustrates how creative tax advisers need to be. It also shows how tax advisers are able to save their clients large amounts of money, which is the reason they are well paid. I recommend the page to young people considering career options.
I often hear comments such as "X% of the population owns Y% of total wealth." However talking about the entire population is grossly misleading. Most young children are expected to own no wealth. Similarly we should expect young workers to have little wealth compared to older people. I illustrate this with a numerical example.
Academics and believers think about religions in very different ways. It is essential not to confuse the two perspectives. Academically, Islam is obviously derived from Judaism and Christianity. For believers, the Quran came directly from God. I explain how much Christianity and Islam have in common. However they differ markedly about some fundamental religious questions, such as the nature of Jesus and the way salvation is attained. My 22-minute talk delivered at a secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent.
Britain has had a Remain majority since mid-2017. Despite that we risk imminent departure from the EU if the Conservative Party wins the general election. The problem is that Leave voters are united around the Tories, while Remain voters are divided between several parties. The only rational way forward for Remain supporters is to vote tactically. However, how do you decide how to vote in your individual constituency? I review the available tactical voting guidance.
Real world politics is about making choices. The person or party you vote for or join will never be perfect, because all of us are imperfect. On leadership integrity, economic competence, and belief in international cooperation, I prefer the Liberal Democrats to the Conservative Party or the Labour Party.
In September, I attended the funeral prayers of a close friend in Manchester Central Mosque. While praying, I reflected on how important that location has been in my life, and the importance of a place called home more generally. I made that the subject of my 51st Thought for the Week on BBC Radio Manchester.
Under our present voting system, the candidate who receives the most votes gets elected. This works fine when there are only two credible candidates. When there are three credible candidates, our voting system forces me to guess what might happen before I can decide how to vote. It often forces me to vote for my second choice candidate, to stop an even less wanted candidate getting elected. A much better system, which is simple to operate, could easily be implemented while keeping to the UK principle of "One constituency, one MP."
Top 20 pages
The pages I most recommend listed in alphabetical order.
If you want to understand the Quran and are not an expert in Classical Arabic, you need a translation. Where do you start? I recommend some translations, as well as commenting on some other translations.
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.
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.
My 51 minute lecture with slides given at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. It covers both the common interests of British Jews and Muslims and the causes of tension and division. I explain in detail how the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester was designed to sidestep the problems, and why it has succeeded over the last 11 years.
In April 2016 I 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 the Quran. My approach was to first explain the basic sources of Islam before going on to show how some key principles of Islam, which are clearly stated in the Quran, support religious freedom. 40 min audio recording with self-advancing PowerPoint slides.
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.
The author has been an expert witness on Islamic theology in over 20 terrorism trials. He is also an expert on critical realism, and the founder of Islamic critical realism. The book addresses a question that is vital for both politics and security. It provides the clearest thinking about these distinctions that I have seen anywhere.
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.
Many Muslims want a single word to cover a range of anti-Muslim behaviours. In 1997, Runnymede promoted a definition of Islamophobia that was severely flawed, because it conflated certain attitudes to Islam and anti-Muslim behaviour. There have been many attempts since then to produce an improved definition of Islamophobia. Quite apart from their individual problems, no revised definition can erase the presence in the public square of Runnymede's awful 1997 definition. Accordingly, the word Islamophobia cannot be rescued, and should be abandoned. Attempts to salvage it harm Muslims by distracting attention from real anti-Muslim behaviours.
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.
I have resigned from the Conservative Party after 36 years of continuous membership. This has nothing to do with policies. The Party has chosen as its new Leader Boris Johnson who I regard him as morally unfit to be Party Leader or Prime Minister because in my view he does not care about the distinction between truth and falsehood. I also consider he does not care about the harm he causes others, as long as his personal ambitions are advanced. Accordingly I could never campaign for the Conservative Party while he is its Leader.
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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.
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.