Inventing the industrial revolution, combined with the British Empire, made Britain the most powerful country in the world for over a century. Even though the USA overtook the UK in the late 19'th century, Britain remained a world power until well into the 20'th century. Unfortunately Britain has not fully accepted its reduced status in the world. This leads it to suffer from the illusion of having strategic autonomy, and consequently making bad foreign policy decisions. I conclude with the UK's three realistic policy options.
Subject to local financial services regulation, the parties should be free to agree any terms they consider financially and religiously acceptable. I used my November 2020 Islamic Finance News column to remind readers that Muslims' views on religious questions such as the one above vary.
3,000 years ago Judaism was the religion of a small collection of tribes located in a small part of the Middle East. Today Judaism and its historical offshoots Christianity and Islam are the religions of a very large part of humanity. I briefly explain how I see Judaism, and share my thoughts on the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Judaism. This was my 8-minute talk for the Muslim Jewish Forum's event for Interfaith Week 2020.
Corporate sukuk in the UK are quite rare. I missed this 2019 issue by Al Waseelah plc to finance NQ Minerals plc when it took place. However, I summarised the details for my monthly Islamic Finance News column once I learned about it. One of my goals was to show how much one can learn simply by reading published documents.
Companies protect their assets and the reliability of their accounts by having strong internal control systems. Such systems normally stop single individuals from stealing money or falsifying the accounts. Unfortunately, when senior management personnel collude, they can override any internal control system. I propose making auditors explicitly responsible for identifying such collusive management fraud. This will however cause audit costs to increase. My article originally published in "The Private Investor", the house magazine of the UK Shareholders' Association.
Registers of beneficial ownership are an important tool in combating corruption, since illicit wealth is often hidden by using trusts (as understood in English law) and similar entities which are found in other legal systems. I consider the implications of such anti-corruption measures for Islamic finance. I also set out some principles for determining where beneficial ownership lies in Islamic finance transactions.
Judaism and Islam both teach the importance of preserving the lives of others, and your own life. That requires you to be meticulous about avoiding coronavirus infection risks. My 58th"Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester, which followed shortly after my 70th birthday and 42nd wedding anniversary, both celebrated in isolation at home.
The Conservative Party has commissioned an independent inquiry into its handling of complaints of racism and Islamophobia. The organisation Hope not hate has submitted a report to the inquiry with details of 40 cases of anti-Muslim behaviour. The report also contains a page written by me giving my overall perspective on the issues. Hope not hate has also published a survey by YouGov of Conservative Party members' attitudes, many of which are disquieting.
The data makes it clear that, on average, Muslim majority countries are poorer than non-Muslim-majority countries. The history of colonialism is a factor, but only a partial one. There are some key criteria states need to fulfil if their citizens are to advance. Muslim majority countries are often deficient due to corruption, maintained by the absence of freedom. The way that citizens behave is also vital. Unfortunately many Muslims interpret Islam in a way not conducive to worldly success.
I spoke to the morning assembly at a Church of England High School. Then I spent almost an hour answering open questions from 7 sixth-form Religious Education students. The two sessions together outline my views on the role of religion in personal life and its proper position in state law.
Recent UK news has been dominated by another Brexit row over the UK's intention to violate international law. I have explained the issues factually by answering 20 questions about how we got here and what it means. I also give my forecast of what is likely to happen.
The UK's financial services regulators are, quite properly, unable to be sued for failing to regulate properly. At the same time, the law requires there to be a scheme for complaining about regulatory failures, and permits the payment of compensation by the regulators. The regulators are consulting about a rewrite of the complaints scheme. The changes are more than just a rewrite; they worsen the scheme, and I consider the existing scheme itself to be unsatisfactory.
Many well off people still think of themselves as poor, because they only compare themselves to those who are richer. This harms society by making them less generous. It also harms them, by making them feel bad about themselves, damaging their happiness, health and longevity. Even the poorest in our society are far better off than most of the world's population.
Each episode of about one hour covers one US president. It features historians who are an expert about the president concerned. The narrator Lillian Cunningham keeps the delivery very light, without detracting from the information. She always asks "What would it be like to go on a blind date with this president?"
Since the Eisenhower era, US politics has become increasingly polarised. In the legislature Democratic and Republican senators and congressmen are far less likely to vote for policies promoted by the other party. Grassroots Democrats and Republicans feel increasingly hostile towards each other. This book provides a clear explanation of how and why this has happened, grounded in solid data.
Zakat is a charitable donation or tax payment made by Muslims. Many Islamic financial institutions are either required to pay Zakat or choose to do so. The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions is consulting regarding a proposed Financial Accounting Standard on accounting for Zakat. My page includes the response I have sent in, and my article on the subject, as well as discussing how the word should be spelled in English.
After America's War of Independence, the 13 newly independent states set up a confederacy. This did not work well, and the Constitutional Convention came up with a draft US Constitution as a negotiated compromise. The three authors explain in 85 papers why it should be adopted. Their work is amongst the deepest writing on how representative government should be organised taking account of human nature.
Who you accept as belonging to the same religion as yourself has always been a divisive question. You are free to decide "Who is a Muslim" either narrowly or broadly. However when the state decides who belongs to a religion, the result almost always leads to religious oppression. Pakistan provides a case study with its persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims.
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.
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.