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Serious writing
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Below are the 20 newest pages + the 20 pages I most recommend.
My site has over 700 pages.

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See below for the 20 newest pages followed by the 20 pages I most recommend.

My site has over 700 pages.

Newest pages on this site

The latest 20, newest first, are listed below.

Success tip: Master Microsoft Word
Most users of Word know little about its advanced features. Many are weak even on basics such as the different kinds of "Paste" in Word. My career experience and need for self reliance meant that I had to master advanced Word. I recently gave a 15-minute presentation to some colleagues on Advanced Word, which you can watch on the page. Learning how to use Word effectively, especially its advanced features, will make you more successful at work and anywhere else good documents are required.
Sucess tip: Attend events effectively
Many people attending events behave in ways that do not advance their careers. Without being aware of it, they are choosing to stagnate. I list many behaviours that should become automatic habits. Implementing them will help you to advance your career.
Give shares to charity instead of cash
This page is for readers who give to charity, and who also own investments where capital gains tax would arise if they sold the investments. If so, they will almost always be better off giving shares to charity instead of giving cash. Surprisingly few people are familiar with the relevant tax rules. I have explained how they work, with full calculations.
Celebrating America's political contribution to the world
Views of the USA, and knowledge about it, vary greatly. Even though I did not set foot there until the age of 30, I grew up with a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the USA. I shared this in my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester as the date was the fourth of July.
Israel’s legal policy in East Jerusalem is hypocritical
The establishment of Israel led to many Arab and Jewish refugees. However after the 1948 War of Independence, Israel also had Arab citizens who were internally displaced. Their property was confiscated just like that of Arab (non-citizen) refugees who were no longer in Israel. After Israel's purported annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel has enforced the pre-1948 land titles of Jews who fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 conflict. Such enforcement is hypocritical while Israel denies the land titles of its own Arab citizens who were internally displaced persons ("Present Absentees") in 1948.
Report of the Swaran Singh investigation into the Conservative Party
The long awaited report by Professor Swaran Singh into the Conservative Party's handling of complaints of racism etc. has now been published. I believe the Conservative Party gave Professor Singh very narrow terms of reference in order to minimise reputational damage. The report is robust, and contains excellent recommendations for improving the complaints process and for internal training. Despite the constraints of his terms of reference, Professor Singh has also managed to touch on some of the wider issues the Conservative Party needs to address. I gave a number of media interviews after the report was published.
The implications of capital gains tax for investment returns and decisions
When directly held shares increase in value, you generally cannot sell them to reinvest in other shares without paying capital gains tax ("CGT"). Paying CGT year by year has a significant impact on your long term post-tax investment return. I model the implications over a 30 year period. The CGT implications have led me to gradually shift my portfolio to avoid directly held shares outside tax-favoured wrappers such as ISAs and SIPPs.
The price of money in Islamic finance and conventional finance
In free countries, Islamic finance and conventional finance exist side by side. Islamic banks always base their prices on the conventional finance interest rate. People often ask me why Islamic finance does not have an independent price for money? Even with arbitrage, I conclude that Islamic finance's pricing of money can differ from conventional finance. However, the difference will always be unfavourable to Islamic finance's customers!
Accept that on many subjects you are not entitled to have an opinion
My "Thought for the Week" shared a small, but important, point that many people miss. That is the need to be honest about the limitations of your own knowledge, but also recognising when other people are not competent to discuss something. Refusing to debate the ignorant will save you time and is better for your blood pressure.
“Judeo-Christian” is historically inaccurate and deliberately divisive
Historically, Europeans have described their civilisation simply as "Christian". The term "Judeo-Christian" was popularised by anti-communists, and then by anti-Muslim bigots.
Why I support the National Muslim War Memorial Trust
Muslims were a major part of Britain's Armed Forces in both World Wars. However their story has largely been forgotten. This matters for community cohesion. The NMWMT will commemorate Muslim servicemen and servicewomen, and tell their stories, thereby bringing people closer together.
Why Islamic finance does not use traditional Islamic law
I am often asked why Islamic finance uses secular legal systems instead of using Islamic law. The reasons are very practical ones. Traditional Islamic law ("fiqh") suffered many centuries of non-development and is therefore not adequate for modern commercial life.
Lifetime ISAs – Free money from the government
Money is free when you receive it, and it is not taken away in future. Free money is rare. However the government addition to your Lifetime ISA is free money in my opinion. Provided you are confident of not breaching the Lifetime ISA rules, and fall in the qualifying age range, the free money makes a Lifetime ISA extremely attractive. I have illustrated this with some modelling.
The locations leading Islamic finance innovation
Islamic finance originated in Egypt while today the main jurisdictions are the Gulf states and Malaysia. However I believe that the UK and North America lead on Islamic finance innovation. I offer three possible reasons.
My shareholder perspective on auditing and corporate reporting
The Government is undertaking a major review of corporate governance and auditing. This could lead to the biggest changes in this field for a generation. I gave a short talk to the CRSA forum with my perspective on the issues. I believe that the proposals do not go far enough. I recommend that power to appoint the auditor should be taken away from major companies and given to an independent regulator.
A close look at short selling from an Islamic finance perspective
Short selling is an important part of modern securities markets. Shariah scholars consider short selling to be religiously prohibited. I disagree with their religious analysis for the reasons explained on the page. Ultimately each Muslim must decide the religious question from themselves, as they are individually answerable to God. I have never engaged in short selling because I consider the risks outweigh the potential gains.
Anti-Muslim hatred: What the law can, and cannot, do
I spoke about anti-Muslim hatred at an event for the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Some forms of bad behaviour can be, and are, legislated against. However other bad behaviour requires changing people's attitudes. Each Muslim is an ambassador for Islam, whether or not they want to be one. My video presentation also distinguishes between "old" and "new" anti-Muslim hatred.
My reflection on the death of Prince Philip
BBC Radio Manchester asked me to replace my planned "Thought for the Week" with one about Prince Philip, given his very recent death. I focused it around the life choice he made when he decided to marry Princess Elizabeth of Britain.
When accounting standards become dangerous
To draw up a realistic balance sheet, companies need to discount their long term liabilities to present value. Generally accepted accounting practice is to discount liabilities at risk free rates derived from the prices of government bonds. Instead IFRS 17 allows insurance companies to discount illiquid long term liabilities using theoretical rates that would be earned on illiquid risk free assets, even though such assets do not exist. This allows an undesirable degree of flexibility to insurance companies, and the theoretical discount rates used are impossible to verify. Discounting at these higher theoretical rates can have a very significant effect on the reported shareholders' funds. At the very least, insurance companies should be required to quantify the impact of discounting at these higher theoretical rates. I explained this in an article for "The Private Investor" which is reproduced on the page.
“Why freedom of speech is vital” — interview given to a school pupil
Many younger people value freedom of speech less than my generation does. That is especially true if they live in a country which is not as free as the UK or USA. I gave a short interview to a Singapore school pupil about why I regard freedom of speech as vital. You can watch the recording. I have also transcribed his questions. This page also reproduces the UK law on the incitement of racial hatred and the incitement of religious hatred, explaining why they differ.

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 a 10-page guide myself.
A guide to Quran translations into English
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.
A personal view of the Israel / Palestine 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.
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.
How to control your weight
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.
Lecture: Muslim Jewish relations in the UK
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.
Lecture: The Quran recognises religious freedom
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.
Marriage tips for Muslim women (and men)
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.
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.
My Clare College "Alumnus of the Year" speech
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.
My short reading list on investing
I have been investing for over 45 years and my personal finances now depend on our family's investments. Since I began investing, I have read dozens of books about the subject. One of my children recently asked me to suggest a reading list. To focus properly, I limited myself to five items, to be read in the order specified.
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.
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.
Review of "The Genealogy of Terror: How to distinguish between Islam, Islamism and Islamist Extremism" by Matthew L.N. Wilkinson
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.
Sex and gender are different
Imprecise use of words always leads to sloppy thinking. Historically, English has used the words sex and gender as if they were interchangeable. However, precision is particularly important when discussing controversial subjects such as gender change. I explain the distinction between sex and gender and recommend always being precise with our vocabulary. Sex is immutably fixed by our DNA. Gender is a behaviour and can change.
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 word Islamophobia should be abandoned
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.
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? You have to decide what matters most in religious belief and compare what each religion has to say.
Why I resigned from the Conservative Party
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.

Read "What you can do."

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Curriculum for Cohesion

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.


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