Scientific knowledge of the body and its molecular processes is advancing very rapidly. The author is at the forefront of this research at Harvard University's Medical School. He explains our current understanding of ageing, and how it might be delayed or even reversed. Reading the book has made me change my lifestyle. Reading it, and acting upon the new knowledge, could extend your life.
My January 2021 Islamic Finance News column was inspired by the turn of the year. I found myself thinking about where Islamic finance needs to go. I focused on the fact that Islamic finance still cannot satisfy many of the financial needs that conventional finance does. While innovation is happening, much more is needed.
His role at Yale University's endowment fund shows how well Charles Ellis understands investing over the long term. In this book, he gives clear guidance that can be implemented by anyone. He focuses on understanding yourself and your objectives. Everyone should read this book before committing themselves to any investments.
France has performed far worse on Muslim integration than have the UK or the USA. An upsurge in religiously motivated terrorism by French Muslims has led President Macron to focus on the issue. Unfortunately, while Macron's goals are right, he has so far failed to propose policies that will work. I have written some specific advice for the French state and for French Muslims.
As well as his Tarzan stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a large amount of science fiction, and some historical fiction. I read almost all of his non-Tarzan writings when younger. I bought this biography when I was about 26 and read it about 43 years later! It is the definitive authorised biography of one of the 20th century's most successful authors, based on full access to his personal papers and his children, and took over a decade to research and write. It is very easy to read.
The basics of personal financial planning are not difficult. I wrote them down for a response to a Financial Conduct Authority consultation. They are now published on my website page. I believe that sadly most people fail to follow them.
The Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim tower in reputation above other Hadith collections. Most Muslims regard them as canonical texts. However, when they were first compiled, they encountered some controversy. Their canonical status took several centuries to acquire. Professor Brown reviews the history in a book that combines being authoritative with being very readable and accessible to the layman.
There are very few occupations that do not require the ability to work with other people. One important component of "people skills" is showing that you are human just like everyone else. It is a big help to be able to laugh at yourself. I share two personal examples.
Stuart Stevens has been a Republican all of his adult life. For decades he has been a political strategist, working to elect Republican candidates at all levels, including presidential campaigns. His disgust with the Republican Party's embrace of Donald Trump led him to reflect on the Republican Party more generally. He has concluded that in his career he deceived both himself and the country.
I based my "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester not on a religious text but on a Peanuts cartoon strip. What is the message in Linus Van Pelt's cry "I love mankind... It's people I can't stand!!"?
This book recounts the lives of the first four Indians to serve in the UK Parliament. The era of these pioneers, late 19th and early 20th century is now long gone. However we should honour the memories of these ground-breaking pioneers. Three of them, all Parsis, became MPs while the fourth, a Hindu, became a life peer and government minister. The book does well at bringing them to life, so that the reader will remember them.
Several members of the Clare College Class of 1969 recently reflected on their career paths. The event was recorded, and some of the talks are now on the Clare College website. I shared my good fortune in discovering at age 23 something that I was fascinated by, would never be boring, and also happened to be well paid. My personal career journey has some important messages for younger people.
Saving and investing matter for all except the very poorest in our society. Unfortunately there are serious problems getting impartial advice, so people need to learn for themselves. This book is my recommendation as the best place to start. It is simply the best book I know for the new investor. The author is a well-known economist, who writes well and seeks to share his knowledge.
Modern futures markets exist because they have unquestionable economic benefits for society. Those who doubt that are economically naive. Despite the economic benefits, many Muslims believe futures trading is religiously prohibited because some Hadith appear to prohibit the transactions involved. However the problems these Hadith aim at do not exist in modern futures markets, so I regard these Hadith as simply inapplicable to futures trading.
I look at the House of Commons after the 2019 general election. Conservative MPs predominantly represent rural and small town seats whereas Labour MPs predominantly represent seats in large cities. Accordingly it is no surprise that Conservative held seats are, on average, much "Whiter" than Labour held seats. However when you look at BME MPs, there is a striking pattern. Labour BME MPs mainly represent seats that are noticeably more diverse than the average Labour held seat. Conversely Conservative BME MPs represent seats slightly "Whiter" than the average Conservative held seat. This shows that the Conservative Party is much more willing than Labour to select BME candidates for winnable seats, irrespective of the constituency demographics.
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.
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.
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.