For many years I have been unhappy with the name (in English) many Islamic finance practitioners give to the payment made by a customer under a takaful (Islamic insurance) contract. It is often described as a "donation" when it is nothing of the sort. Such terminology risks misleading people who are new to Islamic finance regarding the true economics of the transaction. My September 2018 Islamic Finance News column suggested more accurate names for the payment.
The think tank Bright Blue promotes liberal Conservatism. It asked me to write a short piece about why the Conservative Party needed to fight Islamophobia. I explained that anti-Muslim prejudice harms not just Muslims, it also harms the UK as a whole. Furthermore, being seen as anti-Muslim makes it much harder for the Conservative Party to win elections. I illustrated this with the example of Ilford North constituency.
The British Home Secretary and the Mayor of London are both of Pakistani origin. Sajid Javid and Sadiq Khan come from humble backgrounds but climbed to the very top of UK politics. I appeared on a 26-minute TV programme debating the extent to which they should be seen as representing the minority communities that they came from.
I was interviewed for 23 minutes. The goal of the interview was to provide an easy introduction to Brexit for those not familiar with the issues. The page also has links to my earlier writings on the EU and on the euro crisis.
Why does the Holocaust hold a special place in our consciousness? It is not just the numbers killed. It is the Nazis' desire to exterminate all Jews, young and old, everywhere they could. Also the industrialised killing methods the Germans used, and their meticulous documentation of their crimes. That this happened in one of the world's most civilised countries is a continuing lesson for all of us.
This short work of fiction is by my eldest son. He never lets me read anything before it is published, so I came to it in the same way as every other reader will. I found it entertaining and easy to read albeit somewhat gory. It also has a serious message about the dangers of religious fanaticism. It passes the key test for fiction; I always wanted to know what happened next until I finished it!
Space constraints at Mecca mean that most Muslims will never be able to perform Hajj. If you go on Hajj more than once, you are taking up a slot that would have enabled someone else to perform their only Hajj. In my "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester I asked if that is being selfish.
My June 2018 Islamic Finance News column looked at the relative performance of the conventional and Shariah compliant versions of the FTSE All World Index from 2008-2017. A reader responded by saying that the MSCI World Index showed the opposite result. I have taken a detailed look at the figures which not change my fundamental point. A conventional equity investor should perform better than a Shariah compliant investor, simply because the conventional investor can pick from the entire universe of shares, while the Shariah compliant investor cannot.
Boris Johnson recently wrote a Telegraph column which denigrated Muslim women who wear a niqab or burqa. His skill with English makes it clear that he knew exactly what political effect his words would have. Populist politics in many countries around the world threatens liberal values and freedoms which we have come to take for granted. I wrote a Conservative Home column about the risks to the UK.
The Labour Party is struggling to deal with antisemitism, while the Conservative Party faces issues with Islamophobia. Historically, European antisemitism was driven by Christianity. Today Christians are generally much more friendly to both Jews and Muslims than are intolerant secularists. Muslims and Jews are stronger facing these challenges together.
The recent matrimonial case of Akhter v Khan has received significant press coverage. It is potentially a landmark case. The Daily Mail story contended that the law had now recognised Shariah in matrimonial cases. I have read the full text of the judgement, and conclude that the press coverage is inaccurate. In my view the decision is harmful in public policy terms. I also expect it to be overturned if the case is appealed.
I spoke to about 30 Britons of Pakistani origin. Most of them were Labour Party supporters, with some being Labour Party members and local councillors. I explained why I am a Conservative, how the Conservative Party sees the country, and why British Muslims should support it. My 6-minute talk was recorded, and you can listen to it or read a transcript.
I spoke to about 30 Britons of Pakistani origin. Integration matters for society as a whole, but it also matters for each individual. We can choose how integrated we become, and take action accordingly. My 6-minute talk was recorded, and you can listen to it or read a transcript.
Islamic banks do not make loans, but provide finance in other ways. UK tax law gives the finance costs paid by Islamic banks' customers the same tax treatment as it gives interest expense. That is normally helpful, but not always. For example, it means that the rent paid in a diminishing musharaka transaction to finance "buy to let" property will receive only basic rate income tax relief.
People are free to criticise religions, but they should not denigrate their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, sometimes people motivated by anti-Muslim hatred cloak their language under a veneer of criticising Islam. It is hard to lay down general rules to distinguish between honest criticism of a religion and disguised hatred of its adherents. However, in specific instances the two are often quite easy to tell apart. I also discuss the distinctions between speech which is criminal, or socially unacceptable, or politically unacceptable.
Writers and speakers about Islamic finance often contend that not only is it more moral, it also produces better financial results. During the global financial crisis, they regularly pointed to the superior performance of Shariah share indices. However, the evidence shows that in general Shariah compliant share indices perform worse than their conventional counterparts. That is what logic would predict.
Voters often complain that politicians lie. The accusation is valid, but blame rests not with the politicians but with the voters, whose behaviour shows that they want politicians to lie to them. I covered this in my 42nd "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.
Ideas, good and bad, have power to change the world. The Islam and Liberty Network promotes the idea that Islam is compatible with religious freedom, economic freedom, and political freedom. Unfortunately, Muslim majority countries are currently often deficient in all three freedoms which is why the Network's work is vital. I now Chair the Network's Council, and give it £5,000 per year. This work can change the world, and needs your support.
The magazine of the United Reformed Church posed this question of four people, including me. When asked such a question, the response should be "Compared to what?" Any answer is inevitably coloured by one's own life experiences. I have found Britain very welcoming, and my life here has been wonderful. I explain that in 400 words.
Jesus taught us to "Love your neighbour as yourself." In my 90-seconds "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester I asked whether that is realistically possible. On this page I also look at identical teachings in Judaism and Islam.
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.
Extremist Muslims regularly cite certain texts in the Quran and in Hadith to justify their intolerance and persecution of non-Muslims. However these religious texts have always been present in the Quran and Hadith. Accordingly they existed when Muslims were far more tolerant of other religions than was Christian Europe. If the texts are not the reason for the intolerance, then what is? I addressed this question in my October 2017 presentation at Brigham Young University's annual religious freedom symposium.
There are many Islamic finance glossaries available on the internet. I have create another due to some specific objectives about spelling and to give more detailed explanations than the typical glossary. The glossary will grow slowly as I add words to it. If there is a word you would like me to include, please let me know.
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.
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.
Why does capitalism work in the West, but fail in so many other countries? In the 1990s Hernando de Soto and his colleagues went fact-finding. They went into the streets of developing and former communist nations to learn what real people are achieving inside and outside the formal economy. They found that even poor people in such countries have assets and savings which could be used for successful capitalism, but nevertheless these countries are underdeveloped. In this book they summarise their findings and explain the key changes underdeveloped countries need to make to transform their economies.
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.
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.
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.