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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.

Measuring what people actually do, compared with what they say they do
Social desirability bias is a serious problem for survey research about sensitive subjects. Even when promised anonymity, people often give the survey answer "society expects them to give" rather than reporting their beliefs or actions truthfully. This research measured poor Pakistanis actual use of conventional finance, overcoming the social desirability bias problem by using a "list experiment."
How Britain has changed in my lifetime - a talk at Dean Trust Ardwick School
In February 2023 I gave a talk to Dean Trust Ardwick School which is within walking distance of where I grew up in the 1950's. They asked me to repeat a talk I have given at other schools which I updated for data from the 2021 census. Britons are far better off today than when the UK ruled the largest empire in human history. After the talk the pupils had many questions about my journey through life.
American Finance House Lariba — another US Islamic finance provider
Lariba is not a bank itself, but is close linked with Bank of Whittier NA which states that it also operates on a riba-free basis.
Banks closing accounts for non-financial reasons
Nigel Farage is not unique in having his bank account closed for non-financial reasons. It has happened regularly to Muslim charities and prominent Muslim individuals. It has even happened to a small political organisation, the Campaign for Shared European Values, that I help to run. The anti-money laundering rules, and related practice, are not working well, and need to be revised.
Another US Islamic banking provider — Devon Bank
I continue my review of the USA's Islamic banking scene by looking at Devon Bank. This is a small, but very profitable, US conventional bank which operates an Islamic window.
The worldwide toxification of politics and your duty as citizens
I spoke to teenagers at school who will soon be voters. I began by explaining why good government matters, using Pakistan and South Korea as contrasting examples. After explaining the three parts of government (executive, legislature and judiciary) I recommended studying the US Constitution as the best way to understand how government works in the UK, not just the USA. Finally, I set out the students' duty as citizens, starting with things that are easy, and working up to things that are hard.
University Islamic Financial — the USA's first Islamic bank
The USA has a small but growing Muslim population. Accordingly I decided to take a look at the USA's oldest established Islamic bank. Although long established, it is much smaller than even the smallest of the UK's Islamic banks.
My Guardian opinion piece about Home Secretary Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP — learning points
A Guardian journalist contacted me in April, about 10 years after he had interviewed me. I agreed to write a piece sharing my thoughts on Suella Braverman's anti-asylum-seeker rhetoric. The way the piece came about, and the way I wrote it, contain some lessons worth sharing.
Why buying shares and gambling are fundamentally different
Every so often, family members and friends make the comment that buying shares is a form of gambling. This is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Life, and investing, involve unavoidable uncertainties. However gambling involves the artificial creation of unnecessary uncertainty.
Likening Israel to Nazi Germany is wrong, and harms Palestinians
People often compare Israel with Nazi Germany. Such comparisons are inaccurate, morally wrong, and antisemitic. People making such comparisons think they are helping Palestinians. Actually they are harming Palestinians.
How you do something usually changes its tax treatment
If the bank and the amount financed are not changing, a Shariah compliant diminishing musharaka transaction can be reorganised without triggering a tax liability. However in the case discussed in this article, the bank wanted to carry out the transaction a different way which led to a significant tax cost.
Islam & Secular Democracy — What many Muslims believe. Why. How to change it.
Many Muslims consider that Islam is not compatible with secular democracy. I explain why they hold this view, and why they are wrong. I briefly outline how one can change people's minds about this. My talk at a conference on Islam & Secular Democracy jointly organised by the Neem Tree Forum and the National Secular Society.
Islamic equity investing costs more than conventional investing
Islamic finance normally costs more than conventional finance, because it is a niche industry. Conventional finance has economies of scale and simpler transactions than Islamic finance. For this article I looked at the cost differential for managed equity funds. To ensure that I was comparing "like for like" as far as possible, I chose two relatively similar exchange traded funds from the same fund provider.
Should politicians vote according to their religious beliefs?
SNP Leadership candidate Kate Forbes is a committed Christian. Many have attacked her for holding strong religious views. I consider those attack to be wrong. However I also criticise Kate Forbes for wishing to legislate in accordance with her religious beliefs. I appeared on a TRT World's Nexus programme to discuss these issues. My views are set out in detail in my piece "The Proper Boundary of Political Islam."
Doing arithmetic with dates using Excel
Excel holds dates as whole numbers, starting with 1=1 January 1900. That allows you to subtract dates to calculate the number of days between those dates. This makes it easy to calculate the internal rate of return. I also explain absolute and relative cell references. This was my second article for the UK Shareholders Association on monitoring investments with Excel.
Can one be a cultural Muslim?
Jews are both an ethnic group and a religious group. A cultural Jew does not believe in Judaism, but identifies as a Jew and may observe some traditional Jewish practices. Muslims are defined solely by their beliefs. Accordingly, there is no such thing as an atheist Muslim. The term "cultural Muslim" should be understood as a compound noun, not as an adjective followed by a noun. The compound noun "cultural Muslim" correctly categorises some people. To be precise, cultural Muslims are not Muslims.
Teaching Civil Rights with a global perspective
Good of All is an American 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit education organisation. For several years it has taught the principles of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the philosophy of non-violence championed by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Given the rising levels of strife and violence in our world, the non-violent principles of Dr King offer a road map for young people around the world to make a productive contribution to the cause of justice and peace in the digital age. Good of All recently produced a universal rights school curriculum based on Dr King's principles, partnering on the curriculum with McGraw Hill. Having started off with school districts in the USA, Good of All is now taking the curriculum internationally.
A quick look at Germany's first Islamic bank — KT Bank AG
This is a subsidiary of Kuveyt Türk Participation Bank Inc of Türkiye. I look at the results of its first seven years, finding that it has made significant losses while establishing its business in Germany.
The relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam - March 2022 version
Savio Salesian College asked me to talk about the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I first explained the different ways that believers and academics think about religion. After summarising the history, I looked at how the three religions overlap, and focused particularly on what they believe. Focusing on religious beliefs shows how Islam and Judaism are much closer to each other than either is to Christianity.
How Muslims should talk about terrorism committed by other Muslims
Several mistakes are easily made. These include offering analysis about motivations too soon, denying that the terrorists are Muslims, or claiming that the terrorists are not motivated by their religious beliefs. To speak effectively, you need to learn how the terrorists interpret Islam, and how recent their ideology is. It is essential to condemn them without equivocation, and to promote better inter-religious understanding.

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.

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."

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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.

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