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."
The event was chaired by Trevor Phillips, with the speakers being Nusrat Ghani MP, Peter Tatchell and Dr Qanta Ahmed. Despite two of the speakers being Muslims and Peter Tatchell being a long-standing human rights campaigner, the event was strongly attacked by Baroness Warsi, based on other people's tweets and then listening to a recording. I deferred commenting until I could watch the event recording. Having watched it, I believe there are no grounds for complaining about the event. It was a good event expressing serious concerns about anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred. The speakers reject the term "Islamophobia", as indeed do I.
Unlike the first three Islamic banks which I reviewed, QIB (UK) has always been a wholly owned subsidiary. It has lost large amounts of money, due to a combination of small size and a risky strategy. It now seems to have stabilised, but may be over-concentrated in real estate finance.
In this 40-minute interview I explain how I discovered my post-retirement purpose in life while on Hajj. I also discuss why I am so keen on promoting Islamic finance, and offer some life-advice to younger people.
The way that money is created in a modern economy is not well understood by most people. I have never forgotten how informative I found having it explained in an economics textbook when I was 18. Many proponents of Islamic finance assert, incorrectly, that Islamic banks do not create money. Accordingly this page explains in very simple terms how Islamic banks create money.
People hate others for multiple reasons including: race; culture; and religion. Anti-Muslim hatred increases when some Muslims behave badly such as the terrorists of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Countering hatred is more effective when Muslims ally with others. Each individual Muslim has a part to play. My opinion piece for the Islam & Liberty Network.
The Brexit referendum was associated with a significant rise in hate crimes. On average, supporters and opponents of Brexit have very different profiles with regard to: age, education, authoritarianism, and national identity. I believe these explain why Brexit has been so polarising. In particular people with authoritarian attitudes and who see their identity as primarily English rather than British are more likely to be drawn to the far-right. My 22-minute presentation to Manchester's Challenging Hate Forum.
UK Islamic banks use a structure known as diminishing shared ownership to offer real estate finance in a manner compliant with Shariah, Islamic religious requirements. Tax law has been enacted for this but is not comprehensive. Accordingly, the use of the structure to refinance appreciated real estate triggers crystallisation of the inherent capital gain. People may use this structure without realising they have triggered a capital gains tax "CGT" disposal. That can lead to them filing incorrect tax returns as well as owing CGT. I wrote an article for Tax Adviser magazine published in August 2019.
A previous page identified that, contrary to expectations, CIMB Islamic was more profitable than its larger conventional parent, CIMB Bank. I have looked further at the published financial information. For some unexplained reason, CIMB Islamic appears to have lower overheads. CIMB Bank's assets are also riskier, and therefore require it to hold more regulatory capital. However CIMB Bank appears not to earn a higher return on those riskier assets. That depresses its return on equity.
This 3 ½ hour event had an audience mainly of Pakistani origin. The planned speakers were one Jew, one Palestinian and myself. However the Jewish speaker was unable to attend due to illness. The page includes an audio recording of my presentation with self-advancing PowerPoint slides. In the 27 minutes, I give my full overview of the dispute. The page also has audio of my responses in the Q&A session. It also includes a full 2 hour 25 minute video of the entire event, although the video does not show the Palestinian speaker's slides.
The circumstances of our birth, and many other aspects of our lives are beyond our control. We only control the choices we make. Those choices in turn determine what becomes of our lives. In my 50th "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester, I illustrated this with the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Manchester Limmud is a one-day educational conference with mainly, but not entirely, Jewish speakers and attenders. I have spoken there on many occasions. I chose this subject, as a way of learning more about what the Quran has to say. In my view nothing in the Quran prohibits the existence of a Jewish majority state in Palestine. My personal views of the Israel / Palestine conflict are fully set out on my page "A personal view of the Israel / Palestine conflict."
I spoke to students, most of whom were international students, at Bath University. The general theme was "Global careers." I shared what my career taught me about how to become outstanding, having a global perspective, and how to overcome discrimination. The page has my self-advancing PowerPoint presentation with the audio of my talk and of the Q&A session.
Greater Manchester Humanists asked me for a lecture on the Israel / Palestine dispute. The 1-hour of lecture time provided enabled me to explain the history and the issues in detail. This dispute attracts partisans, so I tried hard to give a balanced overview. As well as the self-advancing PowerPoint presentation with audio, I have also provided the audio of my answers to questions from the audience.
As they are part of the same group, I expect CIMB Bank (which is conventional) and CIMB Islamic to have similar cultures and operational efficiency. As CIMB Bank is larger, I expected it to be more profitable. The 2018 accounts showed the opposite. I investigated some possible reasons.
I consider Boris Johnson morally unfit to be Conservative Party Leader, so I resigned from the Party. However I have no reason to believe that Mr Johnson hates Muslims. Worryingly, he displays significant ignorance of Muslim history. His great communications skills combined with such historical ignorance make me think of the consequences of giving a 10-year-old a flame thrower as a present. The results will never be good.
The Middle West Podcast appears fortnightly and describes itself as "dealing with Western and inherently Islamic issues through the lens of #BalancingTheDiscourse." This was a wide-ranging interview covering my life journey, the British political scene, individuals and the state, radicalisation, and the key message for young British Muslims.
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.
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.
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.