People regularly ask me religious questions via my website. I always give the same response. On the Day of Judgement, each of us will be individually accountable to God. Accordingly we have to decide all religious questions for ourselves. You can consult others as part of reaching your decision. In many cases, the religious views of other people will nevertheless impact up on your life.
Many people have very high incomes, but end up poor. Others with much more modest incomes die rich. What accounts for the difference? With very simple examples, this short readable book explains that the most important factor is your personal psychology. This short simple book is the best possible introductory guide to thinking about your personal finances.
There are very specific reasons why auditing and corporate governance regularly go wrong. Fixing the problem requires making some radical changes. UKSA and ShareSoc have sent their joint views to the Government. This article summarises what needs to be done. It also explains how the response was written by seven co-authors, led by me.
The hard question in Islamic bank accounting is how Islamic banks should account for profit sharing investment accounts. These have their basis in the classical Islamic partnership structure called mudharabah. There is no easy answer. To decide on the accounting treatment one needs to consider the economics of the arrangement in detail.
Our choice of words should help us think clearly, and should not alienate potential allies. The name we use for the ideology of enemies such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban really matters. Calling their ideology "Radical Islam" confuses us and alienates many Muslims.
My "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester preceded Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. I reflected on the wonderful story of how their religious beliefs enabled the Jewish people to survive for so long living in lands ruled by others without being absorbed.
I attended a 3-hour Zoom meeting to discuss The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (“AAOIFI”) proposed changes to Financial Accounting Standard 1 “General Presentation and Disclosures in the Financial Statements of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions.” Afterwards I realised there were important messages about the future of international meetings, the common language of Muslims worldwide, and how to maximise your impact when attending meetings, whether physical or virtual.
Many people don't know how the state distributes your assets if you die without a will ("intestate"). Others think they know, but have it wrong. If you die intestate, in many cases your estate will not be divided the way you would have liked. I explain the rules in detail, along with some other points on inheritance.
Accounting standards generally are needed for comparability between companies, both within the same country and internationally. Do Islamic financial institutions need anything more beyond the accounting standards applicable to all companies? They do, but only for those relatively few subjects where Islamic financial institutions differ from conventional ones. Those are the only areas where AAOIFI (the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions) should seek to set standards.
Most people know that they need a will to govern the distribution of their estate. However few people think about how their affairs will be managed if they lose mental capacity. ("Lose their mind.") They need a lasting power of attorney. My wife and I created these in 2012. The Government website makes it easy for you to create one for yourself.
While planning my June 2021 column for the magazine Islamic Finance News I realised that I had not written a comparative survey of the UK Islamic banking scene since 2015. Of the six Islamic banks originally established in the UK, only four remain. They divide naturally into a "Big 2" and a "Little 2."
Most users of Word know little about its advanced features. Many are weak even on basics such as the different kinds of "Paste" in Word. My career experience and need for self reliance meant that I had to master advanced Word. I recently gave a 15-minute presentation to some colleagues on Advanced Word, which you can watch on the page. It is followed by 4 short video demonstrations from the Q&A session as well as some written answers to questions. Learning how to use Word effectively, especially its advanced features, will make you more successful at work and anywhere else good documents are required.
Many people attending events behave in ways that do not advance their careers. Without being aware of it, they are choosing to stagnate. I list many behaviours that should become automatic habits. Implementing them will help you to advance your career.
This page is for readers who give to charity, and who also own investments where capital gains tax would arise if they sold the investments. If so, they will almost always be better off giving shares to charity instead of giving cash. Surprisingly few people are familiar with the relevant tax rules. I have explained how they work, with full calculations.
Views of the USA, and knowledge about it, vary greatly. Even though I did not set foot there until the age of 30, I grew up with a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the USA. I shared this in my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester as the date was the fourth of July.
The establishment of Israel led to many Arab and Jewish refugees. However after the 1948 War of Independence, Israel also had Arab citizens who were internally displaced. Their property was confiscated just like that of Arab (non-citizen) refugees who were no longer in Israel. After Israel's purported annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel has enforced the pre-1948 land titles of Jews who fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 conflict. Such enforcement is hypocritical while Israel denies the land titles of its own Arab citizens who were internally displaced persons ("Present Absentees") in 1948.
The long awaited report by Professor Swaran Singh into the Conservative Party's handling of complaints of racism etc. has now been published. I believe the Conservative Party gave Professor Singh very narrow terms of reference in order to minimise reputational damage. The report is robust, and contains excellent recommendations for improving the complaints process and for internal training. Despite the constraints of his terms of reference, Professor Singh has also managed to touch on some of the wider issues the Conservative Party needs to address. I gave a number of media interviews after the report was published.
When directly held shares increase in value, you generally cannot sell them to reinvest in other shares without paying capital gains tax ("CGT"). Paying CGT year by year has a significant impact on your long term post-tax investment return. I model the implications over a 30 year period. The CGT implications have led me to gradually shift my portfolio to avoid directly held shares outside tax-favoured wrappers such as ISAs and SIPPs.
In free countries, Islamic finance and conventional finance exist side by side. Islamic banks always base their prices on the conventional finance interest rate. People often ask me why Islamic finance does not have an independent price for money? Even with arbitrage, I conclude that Islamic finance's pricing of money can differ from conventional finance. However, the difference will always be unfavourable to Islamic finance's customers!
My "Thought for the Week" shared a small, but important, point that many people miss. That is the need to be honest about the limitations of your own knowledge, but also recognising when other people are not competent to discuss something. Refusing to debate the ignorant will save you time and is better for your blood pressure.
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.