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.
As an EU member since 1 January 1973, the UK had negotiated opt-outs from several aspects of European integration. Since the UK left the EU as a result of the 2016 Brexit Referendum, many pro-Europeans want it to “re-join.” I explain that re-joining is impossible because the EU will not agree to restore the UK's pre-2016 status. I also expect the EU to require evidence of overwhelming UK support for EU membership before agreeing to open any negotiations for the UK to join the EU.
Many believe that there is a fundamental economic difference between Islamic banking and conventional banking. In my experience, this belief is most common amongst people who are not familiar with Islamic banking. My short article explains that Islamic banking is just banking, albeit with Shariah compliant contracts.
When responding to opinion polls, people often falsify their answers because they don't want to give socially unacceptable responses. When making selections on internet dating sites, or when searching the web, they reveal their true selves. The author had full access to all of the data held by the dating website OkCupid, and also obtained access to data from other sites. The result is a fascinating and illuminating book. He reveals, for example, that after her early 20's, a woman has much lower appeal to men.
This is the UK's largest Islamic investment bank, and has been in business since 2007. Overall, its results have been disappointing, with moderate profits in good years followed by significant losses in bad years. Recent years have continued this pattern.
I grew up in a very poor family. Our television, especially the BBC, was how I knew what was happening in the world and was an important part of my education. The BBC's mission statement, “to inform, educate, and entertain”, gives an order of priority for how to consume TV and radio.
Al Rayan Bank recently closed its last branch serving regular (that is not high-net-worth) retail customers. I regard that as sensible, since physical branches are an expensive luxury in retail banking. I have believed for over a decade that small retail banks should avoid having branches.
Racism still exists in Britain, but integration in the UK is far ahead of other European countries. In my view, no country in Europe comes close to the UK when considering the representation of ethnic minorities at the top levels of politics, media and the professions. We should celebrate this with pride, while recognising that we still have further to go.
Muslims who have refinanced property (other than their principal private residence) in a Shariah compliant way are regularly facing unexpected tax bills. The Government is aware of the problem. However it has failed to do anything to fix it despite stating long ago that it wanted Islamic finance to be on a "level playing field" with conventional finance.
If they are below average height, most people will accept that without hesitation. However many people are very reluctant to accept that they are below average intelligence. Despite that, our limitations, whether in height or in intelligence, are real. Accepting them is hard, but a necessary part of achieving as much as you can.
A website reader asked me if trading KuCoin futures was halal or haram, pointing to a number of technical features of KuCoin. I answered in a way that illustrates how I tackle almost all religious questions. I explained that to decide, you need to understand the transactions, and consider whether they serve any social purpose. Applying legalistic tests is the wrong approach.
Many non-Muslims have a negative view of Islam. When they look at Muslims, they see many things that would concern any reasonable person. These include widespread terrorism committed by Muslims, and the lack of religious, political, and economic freedom in many Muslim majority countries. Indeed, I am surprised that perceptions of Islam are not worse. A future article will outline what individual Muslims can do to improve the position.
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.
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.