Tax relief for interest expense paid by trading companies has the effect of encouraging companies to take on more debt, rather than issuing equity. Some countries have experimented with ways of reducing or eliminating this tax privilege for debt. However, even though Islamic finance scholars prohibit explicit interest payments, as far as I am aware no Muslim majority country has sought to reduce the tax privilege for debt.
As well as being intellectually dishonest, “whataboutism” conflicts with fundamental teachings of religions such as Christianity and Islam. I also make the wider point that you should always be more critical of your "own group" (however defined) than you are of other groups.
I faced this question in 2006 when reviewing the Finance Bill. In that case, I wrote to HM Treasury and pointed out the error, which was corrected a year later. This page also sets out my views on the ethical issues in taxation in four short points.
The inequality of pre-modern societies was deeply unfair. However it was that past inequality that made human progress possible. Everything of value from before the industrial revolution owes its existence to past inequality. Without past inequality, all of us living today would be desperately poor. It is past inequality that made our wealthy, modern, world possible.
“Manchester Speaks” is a group of Manchester University students. They organised a panel event on “Structural Racism” with Charlotte Nichols MP and me as the speakers. As preparation, I took a close look at the definitions of “racism,” “institutional racism,” and “structural racism.” I concluded that Britain is not structurally racist.
As someone who has been investing in equities and equity linked products for nearly 50 years, I am very aware of the risks, and accept them knowingly. However I have concerns that unsophisticated investors sometimes take on excessive risks. That risk is particularly acute with the current low interest rate environment. I illustrate this by looking at the risk disclosures made by Yielders Ltd.
Nearly 40 years ago, a bereaved client said something to me that I have never forgotten. I shared it in my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester, along with my view that the God of the Old Testament is often severely misrepresented.
UK regulators have understood for a long time that UK Islamic banks find liquidity management hard due to the absence of high quality, liquid, Shariah compliant assets. After several consultations that started in 2016, in December 2021 the Bank of England finally launched its deposit taking facility.
The author and his team interviewed 117 young Muslim men on the streets of Paris, Berlin and London. They found widespread antisemitic attitudes. The book provides detailed qualitative insights into the antisemitic views expressed. This does not claim to be a representative survey of all European Muslims. However everyone who cares about the integration of Muslims in Europe will benefit from reading it.
After covering the Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings about loving your neighbours, I go on to discuss what we owe our fellow citizens. We have many legal obligations to them. However being my fellow citizen does not, of itself, entitle you to any affection.
I am a Vice Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East. While discussing Amnesty International's comments about Israel's minorities, I stated how I would feel about being a minority citizen of Israel. I have now written some text for the LDfPME website which I have reproduced on the linked page.
AAOIFI is consulting widely as it develops illustrative financial statements compliant with its proposed revisions to the relevant accounting standard. This led to me attending a 3-hour online meeting based in Bahrain to discuss progress to date. That same day I also spoke online in a corporate governance conference in Saudi Arabia, illustrating how technology is changing work.
Corporate governance can seem dull, but is vitally important. I was asked to speak at a corporate governance conference in Saudi Arabia on “Effective Corporate Governance and the Independence of the Board Audit Committee.” I set out to emphasise the basic principles. Once those are fully absorbed, the details become straightforward. My 12-minute presentation can be watched on the page, and you can also hear my answers to the two questions I was asked.
In April 2016 I wrote an article on the need for Shariah compliant annuities. In my December 2021 column for the magazine "Islamic Finance News" I explained why they are still unavailable. The reasons are mainly the lack of demand but also the duration mismatch risk faced by providers. Devising Shariah compliant structures is not a major problem.
The Royal College of Defence Studies is the senior college of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. Some of their students visited Manchester recently. The Co-Chairs of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester gave a presentation on Manchester's faith communities generally and the Forum in particular. You can watch my 12-minute presentation on the page. The opportunity to speak to such a senior group of people comes from being involved with an organisation like the Forum.
Cryptocurrencies are a “hot” investment topic. Cryptocurrencies are also attracting the attention of Shariah compliant investors, which I regard as somewhat surprising since Shariah scholars often say that Islamic finance is about financing worthwhile real activity. I am not aware of any use for Bitcoin other than speculation on its price.
I have been investing in shares since my mid-twenties. Over the years I have learned that, as an investor, my greatest enemy is myself. To overcome that, and because I find it intellectually interesting, over the last six years I have been changing to being a “quantitative investor.” This article explains how, and why, I made the change.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.