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.
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.
Muslims have historically voted mainly for the Labour Party. Some of the reasons are socioeconomic. However, even allowing for socioeconomic factors, Muslims are still far more likely to vote Labour than Conservative. I explain why, and outline what Conservative campaigners can do to rectify this.
The UK is slowly amending its tax laws to facilitate Islamic finance. However the tax treatment of Shariah compliant real estate refinancing is a particular problem. Conventional refinancing of appreciated real estate involves no tax costs. Meanwhile, Shariah compliant refinancing causes the accrued capital gain to become taxable.
In the 2016 EU Referendum, the majority voted to leave the EU. Accordingly, the Government is presently negotiating an EU departure agreement. The final agreement must be assessed by Parliament and I explain the legal position. Parliament is free to accept the agreement, or to require the Government to negotiate further, or to instruct the Government to remain within the EU.
I spoke to 30 Pakistani origin professionals and young people aspiring to become professionals. I shared 10 tips for career success based on my own experience. The 12-minute talk was recorded. You can listen to it or read a transcript.
Conventional banks securitise mortgages to free up their regulatory capital. Investors in conventional mortgage backed securities receive a pre-specified return provided that the mortgages do not default beyond a safety margin built into the terms of the securities. Al Rayan Bank similarly issued sukuk in order to free up its regulatory capital. The sukuk investors will receive a return equal to LIBOR + 0.8% provided the mortgages do not default beyond the safety margin. From an economic perspective, there is no difference between conventional mortgage backed securities and this sukuk.
After the 2015 general election, the Labour Party had 23 BME MPs while the Conservative Party had 17. The 2017 general election increased the Labour total significantly to 32 while the Conservative total increased slightly, to 19. The House of Commons is gradually changing to look like the country as a whole. However, the pattern I identified before remains. While the Conservative Party selects candidates on merit, irrespective of ethnicity, the Labour Party generally only selects BME candidates for safe seats when those seats have large number of BME voters.
When humans emerged from Africa around 200,000 years ago, they were undifferentiated. Spreading into different environments led to different genes conferring survival advantages. That is why Icelanders look different from Australian aborigines. However technology eliminates virtually all of these genetic pressures. With growing travel and intermarriage, eventually all racial appearance differences will disappear. I estimate this will take less than 1,000 years.
People often talk about "Muslims" as if Muslims in Britain were homogeneous. Actually, British Muslims are very diverse ethnically, and this is increasing. British Muslims are also very diverse theologically. I explained this diversity in my 32-minute talk in High Wycombe, and took questions for 45 minutes. On the page you can watch the presentation, and read a partial transcript of the Q&A session.
Traditional Islamic law (fiqh) includes a detailed partnership law, covering several types of partnerships. However it never developed the concept of a corporation. Today many Islamic scholars attempt to analyse corporations using only the partnership categories in traditional Islamic law. This is a serious mistake, and holds back the development of Islamic law, and in my view holds back Muslim majority societies more generally.
World War 1 was the first truly global war. Muslims from many countries and many European colonies made a major contribution to the Allied War effort. Much of that has been forgotten. This book reminds us of their dedication and sacrifice, is beautifully presented, well illustrated, and easy to read.
I spoke to over 20 students for an hour, followed by an hour of questions and answers. I gave them a comprehensive overview of Islam, focusing on its relationship with Christianity and Judaism. I also tackled terrorism and religious extremism amongst Muslims. Some of the questions indicate a serious lack of knowledge about what the major Christian churches say about the relationship of Christianity and Islam. I recorded the lecture and the slides plus audio can be watched on the page. I have also transcribed some of the questions and my answers and provided the PowerPoint file.
This page discusses a "total return swap" structure which has been signed off as Shariah compliant. The structure would allow Muslims to achieve the same economic returns as investing in any identified asset. For example, a Muslim could achieve the economic results of investing in brewery shares, while remaining Shariah compliant. The structure risks violating any purposive intent of Islamic finance. That may account for the nickname of the underlying religious opinion as "The Doomsday Fatwa."
A key requirement for a successful economy is reliable, relatively inexpensive, and rapid, enforcement of commercial contracts. Sadly the courts of many countries cannot be relied upon when it comes to enforcing contracts, particularly when foreigners are seeking to enforce contracts against local country residents. The case of Dana Gas and its sukuk default illustrates this very well.
Islamic banks fulfil the same economic functions as do conventional banks. Furthermore, the services they provide to their customers, whether "depositors" of money or "borrowers" of money, are essentially the same. Accordingly it should be no surprise that both types of bank derive competitive strength from the same leverage attributes.
About 25 years ago, Price Waterhouse's (now PricewaterhouseCoopers or PwC) global strategy was heavily focused on the distinction between "foundation attributes" and "leverage attributes". A foundation attribute is one you must have to play in the game; a leverage attribute is something that gives you competitive advantage. Because Shariah compliance is essential for all Islamic banks, it does not distinguish one Islamic bank from another. Hence it is a foundation attribute.
Islamic finance has basically the same economics as conventional finance. This naturally leads to the question of whether Islamic finance makes any difference to the world. I see its key benefit as bringing people into the financial system who would not use conventional finance for religious reasons. Islamic finance should also discourage borrowing to accelerate consumption.
My correspondence with a journalist on the apparent choice between AAOIFI and IFRS accounting standards. In most cases, financial institutions cannot choose which standards to use; their regulator prescribes the accounting standards to apply. Quite separately, users of accounts need to remember that AAOIFI and IFRS standards have different goals. The page also includes my subsequent Islamic Finance News article, and links to some other resources on my website.
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.
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.
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 Islam. My approach was to first explain the basic sources of Islam before going on to show how some key principles of Islam, 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.
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.