British Muslims and Jews have many common interests. However, their views about Israel and Palestine generally differ. It is essential to not let Israel / Palestine divide them. 18 years of experience with the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester has produced positive developments in that regard.
This five-minute video was made for showing at the 2023 Sandford St Martin Awards in Manchester. It is a conversation between a Muslim (me), a Christian (David Walker, Bishop of Manchester), a Jew (Rabbi Warren Elf, Director of Faith Network 4 Manchester), and a Buddhist (Jill Brennan, Co-chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Faith and Belief Advisory Panel.) As well as the discussion, it is a beautiful example of outstanding video editing.
It would not increase housing supply, but might increase prices by increasing total housing demand. My article was written after a TEDxSydney talk by an Australian academic proposing Islamic finance as a possible solution to Australia's housing crisis.
Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East asked me to present on this subject. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism is excellent. However it is widely misunderstood, both by people who regard themselves as pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli. I also cover some possible definitions of anti-Zionism, and explain two instances of antisemitism involving Labour Party politicians.
Social desirability bias is a serious problem for survey research about sensitive subjects. Even when promised anonymity, people often give the survey answer "society expects them to give" rather than reporting their beliefs or actions truthfully. This research measured poor Pakistanis actual use of conventional finance, overcoming the social desirability bias problem by using a "list experiment."
In February 2023 I gave a talk to Dean Trust Ardwick School which is within walking distance of where I grew up in the 1950's. They asked me to repeat a talk I have given at other schools which I updated for data from the 2021 census. Britons are far better off today than when the UK ruled the largest empire in human history. After the talk the pupils had many questions about my journey through life.
Nigel Farage is not unique in having his bank account closed for non-financial reasons. It has happened regularly to Muslim charities and prominent Muslim individuals. It has even happened to a small political organisation, the Campaign for Shared European Values, that I help to run. The anti-money laundering rules, and related practice, are not working well, and need to be revised.
I spoke to teenagers at school who will soon be voters. I began by explaining why good government matters, using Pakistan and South Korea as contrasting examples. After explaining the three parts of government (executive, legislature and judiciary) I recommended studying the US Constitution as the best way to understand how government works in the UK, not just the USA. Finally, I set out the students' duty as citizens, starting with things that are easy, and working up to things that are hard.
The USA has a small but growing Muslim population. Accordingly I decided to take a look at the USA's oldest established Islamic bank. Although long established, it is much smaller than even the smallest of the UK's Islamic banks.
A Guardian journalist contacted me in April, about 10 years after he had interviewed me. I agreed to write a piece sharing my thoughts on Suella Braverman's anti-asylum-seeker rhetoric. The way the piece came about, and the way I wrote it, contain some lessons worth sharing.
Every so often, family members and friends make the comment that buying shares is a form of gambling. This is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Life, and investing, involve unavoidable uncertainties. However gambling involves the artificial creation of unnecessary uncertainty.
People often compare Israel with Nazi Germany. Such comparisons are inaccurate, morally wrong, and antisemitic. People making such comparisons think they are helping Palestinians. Actually they are harming Palestinians.
If the bank and the amount financed are not changing, a Shariah compliant diminishing musharaka transaction can be reorganised without triggering a tax liability. However in the case discussed in this article, the bank wanted to carry out the transaction a different way which led to a significant tax cost.
Many Muslims consider that Islam is not compatible with secular democracy. I explain why they hold this view, and why they are wrong. I briefly outline how one can change people's minds about this. My talk at a conference on Islam & Secular Democracy jointly organised by the Neem Tree Forum and the National Secular Society.
Islamic finance normally costs more than conventional finance, because it is a niche industry. Conventional finance has economies of scale and simpler transactions than Islamic finance. For this article I looked at the cost differential for managed equity funds. To ensure that I was comparing "like for like" as far as possible, I chose two relatively similar exchange traded funds from the same fund provider.
SNP Leadership candidate Kate Forbes is a committed Christian. Many have attacked her for holding strong religious views. I consider those attack to be wrong. However I also criticise Kate Forbes for wishing to legislate in accordance with her religious beliefs. I appeared on a TRT World's Nexus programme to discuss these issues. My views are set out in detail in my piece "The Proper Boundary of Political Islam."
Excel holds dates as whole numbers, starting with 1=1 January 1900. That allows you to subtract dates to calculate the number of days between those dates. This makes it easy to calculate the internal rate of return. I also explain absolute and relative cell references. This was my second article for the UK Shareholders Association on monitoring investments with Excel.
Jews are both an ethnic group and a religious group. A cultural Jew does not believe in Judaism, but identifies as a Jew and may observe some traditional Jewish practices. Muslims are defined solely by their beliefs. Accordingly, there is no such thing as an atheist Muslim. The term "cultural Muslim" should be understood as a compound noun, not as an adjective followed by a noun. The compound noun "cultural Muslim" correctly categorises some people. To be precise, cultural Muslims are not Muslims.
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.