Short personal profile
A short personal history
Why friends call me Amin
Why I wear a Union Jack lapel pin
Inclusion in published listings
Interviews, profile pieces and awards
Islamic finance credentials
Corporate governance credentials
Some organisations I am involved with
A word cloud of this page
Mohammed Amin has on several occasions been listed as one of the hundred most influential Muslims in the UK.
Highlights of his educational history include:
For 33 years Amin practiced as a tax advisor, finishing with 19 years as a tax partner in Price Waterhouse / PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, retiring at the end of 2009. He was the first Muslim to be admitted to the Price Waterhouse partnership in the UK. He specialised in international tax, the taxation of derivatives and foreign exchange, and Islamic finance.
Notable roles at PW / PwC included
In retirement, as well as Islamic finance consulting and writing, Amin spends most of his time “giving back” to society by writing, speaking, informal mentoring and active involvement in many organisations, including the following leadership roles:
His service to the community was recognised by his selection as the Clare College Alumnus of the Year 2014.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2016, Amin was awarded an MBE for services to Community Cohesion and Inter-faith Relations in Greater Manchester.
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My parents were both born in villages in Jalandhar, India, during the British Empire, in very poor families. Neither of them was able to go to school, which was one of the greatest regrets of my father’s life.
My grandfather was killed accidentally when quite young, and as the eldest son my father Shadi Mehrban (his obituary is here) came to the UK for the first time in 1931. His first daughter was born after he left India, grew to the age of about 13 and died of an illness without my father ever seeing her. He worked as a door to door peddler and as a professional wrestler, and was here during World War 2. He was one of the people who founded the Manchester Central Mosque in Victoria Park, Manchester.
After Partition (the division of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan), my father spent six months searching in refugee camps in Pakistan before he found my mother’s family. Another daughter was born, and then my father returned to the UK. A few months later, he received a letter that at long last he had a son, Mohammed Amin. He celebrated this news in the traditional way, by preparing a meal for friends, at the Victoria Park mosque in Manchester. The 20 or so guests included many students and academics from the university.
After the meal, they wanted to have a collection of money for the baby. My father refused and asked them instead to raise their hands for a dua (a supplication to God) that his son should become as educated as they were. My life has shown that Allah granted their wish.
While I was very small, my sister who was a year or so older than me caught an infection and died. Having lost two children while he was far from them, my father then wrote to my mother, telling her to bring me to Manchester. I arrived in Britain in July 1952, aged 1 ¾, and my earliest memory is of a tantrum at our house in Manchester, wanting to go home to my grandmother, my uncles and my pet baby goat.
In those early years, my mother hated Britain for its weather and alien people, and because she missed her own mother. She stayed here for only one reason, my education, and never saw her mother again as my grandmother died about a decade later. My parents made enormous sacrifices for me, which could never be repaid, but I did the one thing that I could which was to stay with them instead of pursuing a career far away in London or overseas, and they lived with me until they died.
You can hear me speaking about "How my parents migrated to the UK." The greatest challenge in doing that talk was to avoid breaking down and crying.
Despite growing up financially poor, I have long been conscious of the many advantages I was blessed with, none of which I can claim any credit for:
My parents never asked for anything in return.
However I was conscious of my own duties as their only son, of which perhaps the most important was to live with them. Accordingly I never contemplated working overseas, or even in the UK away from Manchester. Instead I lived with them, until it was a case of them living with me, until each of them died.
While this did constrain my career opportunities a bit, I was fortunate that Manchester is a large city, and in my chosen profession I was able to have all the opportunity and scope I could have wished for while living in Manchester. I only bought my London flat much later in life when my parents were deceased and my children were grown up.
I am conscious how many of my values such as charitable giving are derived from my parents' example. My father's obituary mentions how he began the first fundraising for the Victoria Park Mosque. In 1987 when he read the Urdu translation of an appeal for a charity that I was helping to found in memory of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a boy stabbed to death in Burnage High School, Manchester, my father asked me to write out a cheque on his bank account for him to sign. It was the last cheque he ever signed, as he died shortly afterwards.
My parents always believed that that education was the route for me to have a better life than them.
At the age of three, my parents took me to the nursery which was part of a primary school. I didn't want to go, but was dragged there, wailing, with one parent holding each arm. As soon as we got there and my parents left me, I vomited. The rest of my educational career was better than this!
The following day my father had to come back into the school to talk to the nursery teachers. On my first day, the other children, all of whom were white British, would not allow me to play in the nursery sandpit. Although by then I had lived in the UK for over a year, as I had always been at home with my parents, I did not know a word of English and could not explain the problem to the nursery teacher. Once she had been informed, she took action and my father did not need to return again.
I also learned English rapidly, which illustrates why nursery education is particularly important for children from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Although my nursery and primary school was part of a slum area, I cannot fault the effort the teachers put in. I was taught how to read about the age of six, and was was absorbed in books from then on.
I was a model pupil, and therefore never experienced corporal punishment for bad behaviour. However there was one incident which may horrify many readers today. In my penultimate year at primary school, I had started coasting. One day, the school headteacher, Mrs Ogden, stormed into the classroom and informed me that my class teacher Mr Billington was not happy with my arithmetic work. She gave me a sheet of arithmetic problems ("sums") to do in a short space to time, say 15 minutes, and to then take the completed work to her headteacher's office.
I completed the sums, and took them to Mrs Ogden. She marked them, and informed me that all were correct. Obviously I felt pleased. She then asked me why I did not get all my sums right all of the time?
I had no reply. She informed me that it was laziness, and she was going to stop me being lazy. She asked me to hold out my right hand, and I was hit twice with the leather strap that she used for corporal punishment. It was immensely painful, but of course caused no permanent damage. However it put the "fear of God" into me, and I never slacked again at primary school.
I will be forever in her debt.
Once I was a confident reader, my father took me to a public library, and for many years afterwards used to ferry me to different public libraries as I found libraries varied in their content.
As one does, I still remember the very first book I borrowed from a public library. It was a book of home chemistry experiments. While I read it, I was not able to perform any of the experiments. Our home did not have any of the items the author took for granted as being found in middle class households.
I was such voracious reader that my father could never have afforded the quantity of books that I read. In fact we owned very few books. However one of my most treasured possessions is a one-volume encyclopedia which I got my father to buy in a bookshop, even though the price must have been a large part of his total weekly income.
I passed the 11+ examination to attend a state grammar school where in 1968 I obtained 4 A levels, all at grade A.
From there, I went to Clare College, Cambridge, where I obtained a mathematics degree, class 3. (I had not worked very hard.)
I then went to Leeds University, where I obtained a Graduate Certificate in Education (usually known as a "PGCE") with a distinction in the written work.
In 1977, I qualified as a chartered accountant, having been placed fifth in the country (out of about 4,200 candidates) in the Part 1 examination.
In 1978 I became an associate of the Institute of Taxation, with a distinction in the examination.
In 1995, at the age of 44, I did the examinations to become an associate member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.
In 1999, I became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation by submitting a fellowship thesis on “A detailed review of the new UK tax rules on corporate debt.” This thesis was awarded the Institute medal for the best fellowship thesis submitted in 1999.
As a teenager, my desire was to become an astronomer or theoretical physicist. However I realised at Cambridge that I would never be as good at this as I wanted, and had no alternative career plans.
After completing a PGCE, it is natural to apply for a job teaching. I was given a post at the first school I applied to, and spent one year teaching at a comprehensive school in Oldham. In my first half term holiday teaching, I had one of those moments of luck which can change your whole life.
In Central library in Manchester, I saw a book on the shelf. The title was “Accounting: the basis for business decisions.” The book is still in print. On Amazon, the 11’th edition, with the same title and written by Walter B. Meigs and Robert F. Meigs is available for purchase.
The title of the book interested me. I turned a few pages, and was still interested, so I borrowed it. A week later I had read all 900 pages. I then read the intermediate volume, and the advanced volume and was hooked. That is how I got interested in accountancy.
Despite my interest, I only decided the following July to train as an accountant. By then, all of the big firms were full. I didn’t want to wait for another year so I started with a very small firm, 3 partners, about 24 staff with offices in Ashton under Lyne and Hyde. 18 months later the firm split, and I did the second half of my training in the Hyde part of the firm, which had one partner and 11 staff. It was at this small firm that I first became interested in taxation.
I left that firm upon qualifying as a chartered accountant and specialised in taxation, joining Arthur Andersen, then the largest accounting firm in the world, in their Manchester office. After three years, I was promoted to manager, and attended the Arthur Andersen new manager school in St Charles, Illinois, USA, which my first ever foreign trip and spent a few days visiting Washington DC as I have always admired American democracy.
My first encounters with computers at Cambridge were dismally unsuccessful. In the first year, we had a part time one-week course in the computer language FORTRAN. At that time, the university mainframe occupied a building, and we students had to use a paper tape punching keyboard to create our program, which was left in a hopper to be run overnight. The following day you received a printed syntax errors report, to explain why it had not run. You then typed a new paper tape, which had different errors. In the entire week my simple program never ran!
In my second year, the technology had moved on to having a live teletype keyboard connected up to the mainframe. I still remember creating a program to compute the Euler–Mascheroni constant by iteratively summing a series, with the iteration stopping when the difference between successive numbers in the series falling below a fixed limit I had set.
After I told the teletype to RUN the programme, I waited about 30 minutes, and there was no response. I then realised that my program was computing N terms and summing them, and then comparing the N'th term with the N+1'th term, to see if it should stop. If not, it was throwing away the entire calculation and computing N+1 terms to sum the series again (i.e. not keeping the sum of the N terms previously computed) and then comparing the N+1'th term with the N+2'th term. It was hopelessly inefficient, which is why it never produced a result in the time available.
These experiences put me off computers for about eight years. What reactivated my interest was seeing an Acorn Atom (a very early British microcomputer) being used to play a computer game on a visit to Cambridge for the annual Cambridge University Go Society dinner.
It was at Arthur Andersen that I first got my hands on a computer. On Saturday mornings, I used to go into the office to learn how to program in BASIC on the tax department's Commodore PET computer. In passing, this illustrates the importance of investing in yourself, by spending time to learn new skills.
When the tax department got its first IBM PC, I was given a special responsibility for it, and taught myself to use the first commercial spreadsheet program, Visicalc. Indeed, I never attended a Visicalc course, but I did help to deliver the tax department's first Visicalc course for staff. (As a further example of investing in oneself, I bought an IBM PC for my personal use at home, despite the cost representing about 20% of my annual salary. This was the main foundation of my technology skills.)
Three years later in 1984 I left Arthur Andersen to join a small firm in Wigan. I became a partner there after 18 months, but another 18 months later realised that I preferred large firms.
I joined Price Waterhouse as a senior manager in 1987 and became a partner in 1990. I was the first Muslim partner in Price Waterhouse in the UK.
At the firm I had a number of specialisms and roles, including the following:
As mentioned above, I first developed an interest in computing from a user's perspective at Arthur Andersen, and maintained that at my small firm in Wigan. At PW starting in 1993 I led the team responsible for marketing the firm's PowerTax corporation tax return preparation software throughout the UK and was a member of PW's international network of tax technology specialists.
From around 1992 I specialised in the taxation of treasury transactions, which is the reason I joined the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT). In fact I was the first partner within the PW tax practice in the UK to take the ACT examinations, and afterwards encouraged many others to also become members.
From 2001-2005 I led PwC’s treasury taxation network in the UK.
I began writing a finance and treasury blog for PwC in 2005, which I understand was the first official blog from a PwC person anywhere in the world and the first from anyone in the Big 4 accounting firms in the UK.
I developed a specialist interest in this at my small firm in Wigan and continued it at PW. This led to my becoming a member of STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). I remained a member for a few years until my other specialisms meant that I was not longer sufficiently active in estate planning.
While stamp duty is generally regarded as an esoteric specialism, I developed an interest in the subject while at Arthur Andersen, and found stamp duty issues cropping up from time to time ever afterwards. Around 2002 I led the PwC stamp duty practice in the UK for about 18 months to cover a gap between more specialist leaders.
In 2003, I was elected by PwC’s partners to be a member of the Supervisory Board.
This is an elected committee of 15 partners which has the responsibility of seeing how well the firm’s management is running the firm, approving the firm’s accounts, approving the admission and retirement of partners etc. The Supervisory Board also conducts the election of the firm's Senior Partner, sets his compensation, monitors his performance on behalf of all partners and if necessary has the responsibility of dismissing him. Being elected by my partners to serve on the Supervisory Board demonstrates their trust in me to supervise the firm's management on their behalf.
Starting in 2005, I became an expert in the taxation of Islamic finance and then in Islamic finance more generally, being appointed as PwC’s UK Islamic finance leader in 2007 and part of PwC’s four person global Islamic finance leadership team.
On 31 December 2009 I retired from PwC.
I have been an avid follower of politics for virtually all my life. The earliest political memory I have is of Conservative Party posters from what must have been the general election of 1959. In 1960 I was aware of the US presidential election and despite being only 10 years old got up early to see if my hero John F. Kennedy had succeeded in beating Richard Nixon.
That is how I have always remembered Wilson's words. Looking at his speech as a whole, it is a fair summation of it.
However what he actually said on page 7 last paragraph of column 1 was "The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution..."
When I was 14, I stayed up all night to watch the results of the British general election, as well as the American presidential election, and still remember Harold Wilson's phrase "the white heat of the technological revolution." It was natural for me to support the Labour Party; my father did so, I was conscious that we were poor and working class and also because Harold Wilson was so much more charismatic than Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
My first serious encounter with Marxism was at secondary school, when one of the German assistants ran an optional after-school reading class. I can still regard group reading of rather turgid paragraphs about Feuerbach from "The German Ideology" by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
At Cambridge I naturally joined the Cambridge University Labour Club. However I also joined the Cambridge University Conservative Association because some of my close friends were Conservatives and because the Conservative Association had more interesting speaker meetings with better food! At Cambridge I was also a regular reader of a local political newspaper sold on the streets called "The Shilling Paper." (A shilling = 5p in decimal currency.) Under its influence my views gradually became more left wing.
Around that time, I was heavily influenced by the writings of Isaac Deutscher, in particular his brilliantly written three volume biography of Leon Trotsky. I also read three of Trotsky's own works, three works by Vladimir Lenin, as well as many other left wing writings. Accordingly, while I was at Leeds University for my post-graduate Certificate in Education I was a Trotskyist. I joined my first political party of any kind during that year, the Socialist Labour League which later became the Workers Revolutionary Party. However, apart from reading, my political activities consisted only of attending meetings in the Leeds University Union!
Once I started teaching, I saved money and in shortly afterwards in late 1974 made my first equity investment, £50 into a unit trust, which is a type of open ended investment scheme. Such investing is not really consistent with Trotskyist views, and my politics morphed back to mainstream Labour.
My first engagement with active politics came in 1977 when I joined the Liberal Party and became a deliverer of leaflets. I was devastated when Margaret Thatcher won in 1979. (I used to think that I joined the Liberal Party early in Margaret Thatcher's premiership, but in October 2020 came across my 1977 LIberal Party membership card.)
I stood as a "paper candidate" (one who is on the ballot paper but with no party resources devoted to campaigning) for the local council. Despite my only being a paper candidate, my wife and I delivered one leaflet to the entire ward but without any success of course!
Around 1983 I realised that although I fraternised well with my local fellow Liberals, when it came to any discussions of policy I tended to disagree with them and instead to agree with the Government. In particular, I had been influenced by Milton Friedman's television series "Free to Choose" which is now freely available on the internet at the link, and then by reading the book of the same title. You can also watch the first episode of "Free to Choose" below.
Accordingly one day I shocked them by resigning from the Liberal Party and joining the Conservative Party.
The complexity of political vocabulary is shown by the fact that I am a Conservative (i.e. a member of the Conservative Party) but I am not a conservative (an attitude to change.) I joined the Conservative Party because I saw Margaret Thatcher radically changing Britain for the better. I am an internationally minded liberal (an attitude to the world, and in traditional language a supporter of open trade and free-market capitalism) but I am not a Liberal (a member of the Liberal Party, now the Liberal Democrat Party.)
I attended my first Conservative Party conference in Brighton in 1984. That was the conference the IRA bombed; fortunately my hotel was many miles away. I can still feel the grim, totally determined atmosphere of the conference on the Friday, as all of us were utterly resolved to carry on despite the IRA. The final phrase of Margaret Thatcher's speech still rings in my ears "Democracy will prevail."
After I joined Price Waterhouse in 1987 I became too busy professionally for active politics and did not attend the party conference again until 2008. However, in the summer of 2006 a personal friend introduced me to Lord Sheikh and the Conservative Muslim Forum. Since then I was active in the CMF, serving initially as its only Vice-Chairman, and then as Deputy Chairman. From 25 June 2014 until 20 June 2019 I served as the CMF's Chairman which was terminated when I was expelled from the CMF.
The following month I resigned from the Conservative Party on 23 July 2019 when Boris Johnson was elected as its Leader, as I had promised to do several weeks beforehand.
After resigning from the Conservative Party, I decided to remain outside any political party until the end of 2019, in case Mr Johnson ceased to be its leader by then. However towards the end of October 2019 a general election was called for 12 December 2019.
Given the importance of this election to the outcome of Brexit, I decided I could not stay on the sidelines, and joined the Liberal Democrat Party on 28 October 2019. It was publicised as an exclusive in an interview with Maajid Nawaz on LBC on 2 November 2019.
It has always been my nature to get involved and help. Some of my various roles within PwC have been mentioned above. The list of organisations that I am involved with gives the current position; below is a retrospective.
My voluntary activities in chess are only listed in outline form below. For more details, read "My chess autobiography written for the Manchester and District Chess Association ("MDCA") written in 1990.
At Cambridge and Leeds I played the Japanese board game of go, and helped to run the go club in both universities.
Professionally, after joining the Institute of Taxation I got involved with the branch, serving as treasurer, then secretary and then branch chairman. Nationally I got involved around 2000 and in 2003 was elected onto the Council of the Chartered Institute of Taxation where I served until 2015 when I stepped down due to the 12 year term limit.
Similarly, in 2004 I joined the Policy & Technical Committee of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. I served on the committee until late 2012 when I stood down due to time pressures.
In the 1980’s I helped to set up the Asian Circle in Manchester, and assisted the Muslim Youth Foundation.
In the 1990’s I helped with the initial setting up of the Ansar Finance Group.
I have been a strong supporter of the Manchester Islamic Schools Trust which runs a primary school (the one my wife taught at) and two secondary schools.
In the 2000’s I supported the establishment of the British Muslim Heritage Centre which is a major project in Manchester to acquire a grade 2 listed building and convert it into a residential conference centre.
From June 2008 to June 2010 I was a member of the Central Working Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain and chairman of the MCB’s Business & Economics Committee.
Towards the end of 2012 I joined the Council of Salford University. I also served on the Nominations & Governance Committee and the Audit Committee. I resigned in July 2013 as my role on the UoS Council was taking me away from London too much, and I wanted to concentrate more on my political and media commitments. It was a difficult decision, but in life it is important to proritise.
While it is important to balance time spent on work and family with voluntary commitments, my experience has been that such voluntary commitments provide excellent personal skills development and experience. They also serve to raise your profile.
As both of my parents were Muslims, they obviously raised me as a Muslim. I remember, aged in single figures, being sent to a nearby home to learn how to read Arabic text out loud.
Eid was a major festival twice a year. As mentioned in his obituary, my father was one of the founders of Manchester Central Mosque in Victoria Park, Manchester. The Mosque had a regular Sunday school, but I have to confess that I missed attending quite often. One of the great regrets in my life is that I was absent on the day that Malcolm X visited Manchester including our mosque (it would have been December 1964), so I missed my only chance to see this great man.
I have always had a questioning mind, and gradually became agnostic about religion. In my mid-teens, some of my friends and I applied to join the Manchester YMCA to use their snooker and table tennis facilities. On their application forms, all of my friends stated their religion as “Muslim” and had no problems joining. I had stated my religion as “agnostic” and needed to be interviewed by the admissions officer. He explained that as an agnostic, I was a borderline admissions case, but he was going to admit me along with my friends. However, he made it clear that if I had stated my religion as “atheist”, he would have rejected me!
A little while later, my views changed again, from being agnostic to being atheist. I have always believed in acting on one’s beliefs, so I joined the British Humanist Association, now called Humanists UK. This was very much a postal relationship as I do not recall ever attending any kind of event in Manchester. In that sense, it was rather like my entirely postal relationship for a year as a member of British Mensa.
Being an atheist did not stop me reading many library books about other religions. I also sent off for a series of free leaflets published by the Catholic Truth Society to learn about Roman Catholicisim. I do not remember any of the detail contents except for one item. Unlike probably most people I am completely clear about the distinction between “The Immaculate Conception” and “The Virgin Birth” as a result of reading those leaflets.
I have always been completely open with friends, family and colleagues. My parents were of course deeply disappointed by my abandoning Islam, but it had no impact on their love for me.
My belief in God returned in an unusual way.
My first radio was a cheap USSR manufactured shortwave transistor radio, purchased at the age of 17. One of the programs I found surfing the airwaves was “The World Tomorrow” presented by Garner Ted Armstrong. This charismatic speaker explained that prophecies describing the world today and predictions for the near future could be distilled from the text of the Bible. The programme offered a free magazine supplied by post called “The Plain Truth” which I sent off for.
I found the message of the radio programme and magazine, particularly their predictions about the future, compelling. They were part of a religious organisation called the Radio Church of God, which then changed its name to the Worldwide Church of God. From its doctrines, one would objectively describe it as a breakaway Seventh-day Adventist group. The Church described itself as the one true church, and it offered a detailed history connecting it to the apostles, via such groups as the followers of Peter Waldo.
My parents regarded my becoming a Christian as an improvement on being an atheist! I was once again acknowledging the existence of God and there is a significant overlap between Islam and Christianity.
The Church was strictly Sabbatarian. At the end of my first year at Cambridge University, Clare College was incredibly kind to me with my tutor Colin Turpin accommodating me all Saturday including an overnight stay at his home so that I could be sequestered in order to take one of my examination papers a day late on Sunday, to avoid breaking the Sabbath.
A few years later, I became dissatisfied with the Church because it was quite clear that the prophecies they were making were not happening.
Of course, many religious organisations make prophecies which they then reinterpret in the light of new developments. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses originally expected the second coming of Jesus Christ in 1914. When World War I happened instead, they decided that was “sufficiently close” and continued existence instead of disbanding!
Accordingly, about the age of 27 I abandoned the Worldwide Church of God and reverted to Islam.
I have no regrets about my detour into Christianity as I learned a great deal about the religion. As well as a thorough reading of the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation, including the Apocrypha) and literature from the Worldwide Church of God, I also read about many other Christian sects, as well as more mainstream Christian texts and other texts such as the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.
Although a practising Muslim from then onwards, I did not read books about it, but instead simply observed the dietary requirements, fasting, abstinence from alcohol, Eid etc. The turning point was going on Hajj, after which I became much more involved with Islam.
In 2002 with my wife I performed the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. When I returned, I wrote a personal memoir of Hajj for my colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Looking back after eight years, I can see how much Hajj changed my life.
The most important day of Hajj is the day you stand on the plain of Arafat and request blessings from God. Standing there, I realised that after good health for myself and my family, what I wanted most was to help others, especially other Muslims, to experience the personal success that God has granted me in my life. That has become my post retirement mission for the rest of my life.
After your parents, nobody influences you more, for better or worse, than your spouse.
Unlike my father, Tahara’s father was very highly educated, being a non-practicing barrister with four degrees. She came to Britain at the age of 11, speaking no English, but got her "A" levels. Her parents had no hesitation in letting her go away from home to attend Keele University, where she graduated in Chemistry and Biology with a minor in Education.
When we got married, she was in her second year of teaching at a school in Folkestone, and completed the year. She then had 17 years at home bringing up four children, before returning to teaching on 24 hours notice to cover for an absent teacher at our daughters’ school.
Tahara had previously helped in a voluntary capacity at the Manchester Muslim Preparatory School, then in its early days. Accordingly, she moved to working there and served for one year as a class teacher. The head teacher position then became vacant, and she obtained it, serving as the school head teacher for 10 years before retiring in 2007. In her last year, the school won the award for the best Muslim primary school in the North region at the Global Peace and Unity Event, and won it again the year after she had retired.
We have four children, whose diversity is illustrated by their choices to study classics, computer software engineering, archaeology and Japanese at university. The eldest, Ibrahim is now a published author, and details of his first book "the Monster Hunter's Handbook" are on this website.
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I have often been asked why my close friends and work colleagues call me “Amin.” A few years ago I wrote it down because I was asked the question by email and I have shared it here.
When I was born, I had only a single name "Mohammedamin" as names were very simple in our village. e.g. my father only had one name, "Mehrban." When we came to the UK and I attended primary school, my name was subdivided and I attended primary school as "Ameen Mohammed" and naturally got used to being called Ameen by all my friends. (My parents only ever referred to me as Mohammedamin.)
At 11 when I went to grammar school, they wanted a birth certificate. As I didn't have one, my father swore a statutory declaration regarding parenthood and date of birth. In that, he gave my name orally, which the solicitor quite reasonably transcribed as Mohammed Amin, which is what I have been legally since. However, by then I was used to being called Amin by my friends.
This was amplified by the fact that ours was a traditional grammar school, where teachers, and to a large extent also other pupils, referred to pupils by their surname only. "Noonan, where is your homework?"
The end result is that even my wife and my sister call me Amin.
Amongst Pakistanis, while Mohammed is commonly used as a given name, it is usually combined with something else. e.g. I have a cousin called Mohammed Anwar, and he might be called "Anwar" by friends or "Mohammed Anwar" more formally, but not "Mohammed." However, my wife has pointed out that this is cultural rather than religious, and that Muslims from elsewhere do use "Mohammed" by itself.
However, I answer to almost anything, even "Hey you." For example people I got to know at the Cambridge University Go Society (a Japanese board game) still refer to me as "Mo" some fifty years later.
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Since October 2009, I have worn a Union Jack lapel pin on each of my jackets. I have written a page which explains the reason.
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My motto "Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place." is a reminder about personal responsibility and choice.
Some people, for example Bill Gates or Nelson Mandela, change the world in ways that are completely transformative. Few of us can aspire to that. However each of us can do something to make the world better.
Sometimes this takes a great act of courage, for example the Holocaust rescuers mentioned in "The other Schindlers"; however it can be as simple as deciding never to drop litter in the streets. All of us make choices, and we are accountable to ourselves, to our communities and ultimately to God for the choices that we make.
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In early 2005, I was flabbergasted to be telephoned out of the blue and told that I was to be included in the "Asian Power 100", a list of the 100 most influential Asians in Britain. The listing, eventually published in September 2005 was compiled by Carter Andersen. Even though at that time I was on the Supervisory Board of the largest firm of accountants in the UK, it never occurred to me that I might be included in a list alongside people like Lakshmi Mittal and Amartya Sen.
In late 2006 Carter Andersen informed me that they intended to publish a similar list of the 100 most influential Muslims in the UK, the "Muslim Power 100". As well as including me in the list, they asked me to be part of the judging panel. The list was published in February 2007.
On 30 April 2010 I was included in the "Muslim Power List 2010".This is a list of 99 individuals which is categorised by people's field of activity and I was included in the Politics and Government category.
A few years later, perhaps around 2015, I learned that there was a list of British Pakistanis on Wikipedia with me included in the Business and Finance Section. In February 2019 I was contacted by a Wikipedia editor, Sansonic, who stated that he was one of the editors of that page and that his identity, Mr Hassan Sajjad, was publicly disclosed on his Wikepdia user page.
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The items below are listed in reverse date order, with the newest first.
This 29-minute interview in June 2020 covers my family's personal history for the first half, before moving on to my opinions about the development of Pakistan and the progress of Pakistani origin people in Britain. Link to watch the full interview.
In this 40-minute interview in September 2019 I explained how I discovered my post-retirement purpose in life while on Hajj. I also discussed why I am so keen on promoting Islamic finance, and offered some life-advice to younger people. Link to watch the full interview.
The Middle West Podcast appears fortnightly and describes itself as "dealing with Western and inherently Islamic issues through the lens of #BalancingTheDiscourse." This wide-ranging interview in August 2019 covered my life journey, the British political scene, individuals and the state, radicalisation, and my key message for young British Muslims. You can listen to the full interview.
In October 2017, while attending a religious freedom symposium in Provo, Utah, I was interviewed on Brigham Young University Radio. In 16 minutes, I explained what motivates me, and my key messages for young Muslims. The most important one is that the world is not against Muslims, and they can succeed in British or American society. The page "Radio Interview: My Messages for Young Muslims" contains a link for listening to the interview.
I received an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 10 June 2016.
The Clare College Alumni Council elected me to be Alumnus of the Year 2014. You can watch my 22-minute Alumnus of the Year speech.
"Reflections" is the magazine for retired PwC partners and directors. The Winter 2012 issue carried a 750 word article about why I set up my website and how I went about it.
On 27 December 2011 I was visited for lunch by a Muslim I had met only once before, about 20 years ago, when I gave him some career advice. While he is originally from Manchester, he now lives in western New York state in the USA. I was surprised when he asked if he could record a 12-minute video interview with me.
The February 2011 edition of "Tax Adviser", the house magazine of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, carried an article about me constructing my website in retirement.
On 10 December 2010 the northern edition of the Jewish Chronicle carried an article by Nathan Jeffay based on a telephone interview that I gave him.
On 7 November 2010 I visited BBC Radio Manchester to be interviewed by Mike Shaft. The main purpose of the interview was to discuss the relative closeness of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Mike's producer had read Triangulating the Abrahamic Faiths. However the interview developed into a more wide ranging chat about how I found growing up in Manchester in the 1950's as a young immigrant of Pakistani origin and what drove me to succeed in my career.
Thanks to the BBC supplying me with the sound files, you can still listen to my interview with Mike Shaft.
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I am an Islamic finance specialist, with a particular interest in how Islamic finance is treated in Western tax and regulatory systems. Until I retired at the end of 2009 I led PwC’s Islamic Finance practice in the UK as well as being a member of PwC’s four-person Global Islamic Finance Leadership Team.
Apart from PwC, I have had the following organisational involvements.
I regularly contribute articles and book chapters on Islamic finance to a range of professional and industry publications, many of which can be read on my Islamic finance page. In particular, I wrote the Alternative Finance Arrangements (Islamic Finance) section of the LexisNexis Finance Act Handbook from 2005-2010, and was the original author of the corresponding section in Simon’s Taxes which is the leading tax encyclopedia in the UK, and write the Islamic finance section of Simon's Tax Planning.
Since September 2015, I have written a monthly column, "A Letter from Amin", in the magazine "Islamic Finance News."
I have spoken on Islamic finance on every continent except Antarctica! As well as many presentations in the UK, some of the cities outside the UK where I have spoken are, in alphabetical order: Doha, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Greenwich Connecticut, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kazan, Kuala Lumpur, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Milan, Moscow, Muscat, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Strasbourg, Toronto, Tripoli, Tunis and Warsaw. Some of these presentations were particularly memorable:
In 2011 WikiLeaks revealed that in early 2009 the American ambassador quoted me in a cable to the State Department.
I was the lead researcher and principal author of the report "Cross border taxation of Islamic finance in the MENA region Phase One" which was published on 13 February 2013 by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
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From both my professional career and my voluntary activities, I have developed a strong interest in how successful organisations should be run, and the boundary between management and governance. In particular my profession gave me extensive experience of client boards, both well run ones and those not so well run.
I have listed some of my specific roles below.
The partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP elect a Senior Partner who is empowered to manage the firm, appointing his Executive Board to assist him. While the Senior Partner is accountable to the partners, they do not have the time or sufficient access to confidential information to supervise the activities of management. Accordingly the partners elect 15 partners to the Supervisory Board, which is given a number of powers under the PwC Members Agreement, including the power to dismiss the Senior Partner. PwC's website explains the role of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board.
I was elected to the PwC Supervisory Board in 2003, re-elected in 2007 and served on it until retirement at the end of 2009. During that time I was also a member of PwC's Audit and Risk Committee; PwC UK is a £2 billion turnover business which is required to publish audited accounts.
The CIOT is the leading professional body in the UK for advisers dealing with all aspects of taxation. It is a charity with over 16,000 members, and a turnover of over £5 million. Its affairs are governed by its Council, and I served as an elected member of Council from 2003 until 2015 when I retired due to the application of the CIOT's term limit.
In common with most other universities, Salford University is ultimately governed by its Council, which has a majority of independent members, one of whom was me. The published accounts show the significant scale of the University's operations, with revenues of £184 million in the year to 31 July 2012. I joined the Council in November 2012 standing down early in July 2014 as attending Salford University meetings was taking me away from London for a greater amount of time than I could accept.
For 5 years from 1991 - 1996 I served as a non-executive director of Manchester TEC Ltd, the Training and Enterprise Council for Manchester, Salford, Tameside and Trafford. In this role, I also served on the TEC’s audit committee and took a particular interest in the operational independence of the internal audit team. We also dismissed the TEC's Chief Executive during the time I was on the Board.
I was involved in the organisation of chess in Manchester and subsequently nationally from around 1970 until 2014. This has included serving for two years as President of the Manchester and District Chess Association, serving in the 1980's on the Management Board of the British Chess Federation including serving as Finance Director 1984-1989.
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With some organisations I am deeply involved and spend a great deal of time. Examples are being Co-Chair of The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester and until 20 June 2019 being Chairman of The Conservative Muslim Forum.
At the opposite extreme, in many cases all I can do is make an annual donation to them.
Rather than trying to rank them by the level of my involvement, which can change over time, they are simply listed alphabetically.
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Out of curiosity, I used the free software at WordClouds.com to generate a word cloud of this page. It was quite interesting as a way of seeing what I mention the most. It is reproduced below.
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