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Religion and community cohesion

The role of religion in society is somewhat contested in the UK. Sadly, in many other countries it is a matter of life and death.

Freedom of religion and belief is of fundamental importance, and I start by listing some key resources. Other pages about religion and community cohesion are listed in reverse date order.

Freedom of religion and belief

Resources on religious freedom
Freedom of religion and belief, usually abbreviated as religious freedom, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a fundamental human right. No country that seriously restricts religious freedom can call itself free, and I would never voluntarily live in such a country. There are many excellent resources on freedom of religion and this page helps readers find some of them.

Other pages on religion and community cohesion

Polling British Muslims with an agenda
The Henry Jackson Society commissioned a poll of British Muslims. The poll had many disturbing findings. In my view, the poll was designed to maximise differences between Muslims and Britons generally. I appeared on the GB News "Farage" show to discuss the findings.
We must not import the Israel / Palestine conflict into the UK
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.
Video: The importance of interfaith dialogue
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.
How Britain has changed in my lifetime - a talk at Dean Trust Ardwick School
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.
Islam & Secular Democracy — What many Muslims believe. Why. How to change it.
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.
Can one be a cultural Muslim?
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.
Teaching Civil Rights with a global perspective
Good of All is an American 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit education organisation. For several years it has taught the principles of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the philosophy of non-violence championed by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Given the rising levels of strife and violence in our world, the non-violent principles of Dr King offer a road map for young people around the world to make a productive contribution to the cause of justice and peace in the digital age. Good of All recently produced a universal rights school curriculum based on Dr King's principles, partnering on the curriculum with McGraw Hill. Having started off with school districts in the USA, Good of All is now taking the curriculum internationally.
The relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam - March 2022 version
Savio Salesian College asked me to talk about the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I first explained the different ways that believers and academics think about religion. After summarising the history, I looked at how the three religions overlap, and focused particularly on what they believe. Focusing on religious beliefs shows how Islam and Judaism are much closer to each other than either is to Christianity.
How Muslims should talk about terrorism committed by other Muslims
Several mistakes are easily made. These include offering analysis about motivations too soon, denying that the terrorists are Muslims, or claiming that the terrorists are not motivated by their religious beliefs. To speak effectively, you need to learn how the terrorists interpret Islam, and how recent their ideology is. It is essential to condemn them without equivocation, and to promote better inter-religious understanding.
Britain leads all European countries in integrating ethnic minorities
Racism still exists in Britain, but integration in the UK is far ahead of other European countries. In my view, no country in Europe comes close to the UK when considering the representation of ethnic minorities at the top levels of politics, media and the professions. We should celebrate this with pride, while recognising that we still have further to go.
Why Islam has a terrible reputation
Many non-Muslims have a negative view of Islam. When they look at Muslims, they see many things that would concern any reasonable person. These include widespread terrorism committed by Muslims, and the lack of religious, political, and economic freedom in many Muslim majority countries. Indeed, I am surprised that perceptions of Islam are not worse. A future article will outline what individual Muslims can do to improve the position.
Religion prohibits “whataboutism”
As well as being intellectually dishonest, “whataboutism” conflicts with fundamental teachings of religions such as Christianity and Islam. I also make the wider point that you should always be more critical of your "own group" (however defined) than you are of other groups.
Is Britain “Structurally Racist?”
“Manchester Speaks” is a group of Manchester University students. They organised a panel event on “Structural Racism” with Charlotte Nichols MP and me as the speakers. As preparation, I took a close look at the definitions of “racism,” “institutional racism,” and “structural racism.” I concluded that Britain is not structurally racist.
Parents' unconditional love for their children and God's love for humanity
Nearly 40 years ago, a bereaved client said something to me that I have never forgotten. I shared it in my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester, along with my view that the God of the Old Testament is often severely misrepresented.
How do we feel about our fellow citizens?
After covering the Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings about loving your neighbours, I go on to discuss what we owe our fellow citizens. We have many legal obligations to them. However being my fellow citizen does not, of itself, entitle you to any affection.
How well do we really know Jesus?
For all questions, start by asking “What are the facts?” My Boxing Day "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.
Faith communities in Greater Manchester and the Muslim Jewish Forum
The Royal College of Defence Studies is the senior college of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. Some of their students visited Manchester recently. The Co-Chairs of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester gave a presentation on Manchester's faith communities generally and the Forum in particular. You can watch my 12-minute presentation on the page. The opportunity to speak to such a senior group of people comes from being involved with an organisation like the Forum.
Video - Why the Islam & Liberty Network is vital
I believe that Muslim majority countries lag behind because they lack religious, political, and economic freedom. A key reason is that many Muslims have religious views that are not conducive to success in this world, including rejection of religious, political, and economic freedom. Changing such views is ILN's mission. My presentation at the opening of the recent ILN 8th International Conference.
Deciding religious questions – whose opinion matters?
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.
Using the term “Radical Islam” is counterproductive
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.
Why the Jewish people survived 2,000 years as a dispersed minority
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.
“Judeo-Christian” is historically inaccurate and deliberately divisive
Historically, Europeans have described their civilisation simply as "Christian". The term "Judeo-Christian" was popularised by anti-communists, and then by anti-Muslim bigots.
Why I support the National Muslim War Memorial Trust
Muslims were a major part of Britain's Armed Forces in both World Wars. However their story has largely been forgotten. This matters for community cohesion. The NMWMT will commemorate Muslim servicemen and servicewomen, and tell their stories, thereby bringing people closer together.
Anti-Muslim hatred: What the law can, and cannot, do
I spoke about anti-Muslim hatred at an event for the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Some forms of bad behaviour can be, and are, legislated against. However other bad behaviour requires changing people's attitudes. Each Muslim is an ambassador for Islam, whether or not they want to be one. My video presentation also distinguishes between "old" and "new" anti-Muslim hatred.
My reflection on the death of Prince Philip
BBC Radio Manchester asked me to replace my planned "Thought for the Week" with one about Prince Philip, given his very recent death. I focused it around the life choice he made when he decided to marry Princess Elizabeth of Britain.
Attacking religion vs. attacking religious people?
Freedom of speech is vital and needs protecting. At the same time, society needs to guard against hate speech that promotes attacks on individuals. Drawing the boundary is particularly difficult when it comes to religion. Where does freedom to criticise religion cross the line and become an attack on people who follow that religion? I spoke at a Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats fringe meeting during the September 2020 Lib Dem Conference which addressed this question. You can watch the recording on the page.
Heritage Podcast interview about my religious and political history
This 39-minute video podcast covered current politics as well as past changes in my religious beliefs and my political beliefs. Some people claim to never change any of their beliefs. Conversely I am open about how mine have changed during my life. I have transcribed the questions to provide an overview of the podcast.
Interview for the Parallel Histories project
I have known Michael Davies since 2015, before he founded the Parallel Histories project. Parallel Histories has a methodology for covering very contested histories (e.g. Palestine, Northern Ireland) for maximum educational value. He recently asked if I could be interviewed by one of his team. The interview turned out to be very wide ranging. I have now published it on YouTube and on my website. I have transcribed the questions to provide an overview of the podcast.
President Macron and French Muslims — right goals, wrong implementation
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.
Can you love mankind if you can't stand people?
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!!"?
What I like about Judaism
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.
Preserving your life is a religious duty
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.
Why are Muslim majority countries lagging behind?
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.
The role of religion in personal life and in state law
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.
Who is a Muslim?
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.
The Runnymede 1997 "Islamophobia" definition refuses to die
The "Islamophobia" definition published by Runnymede in 1997 was the only one for 20 years. Accordingly, despite its serious flaws, it is what most people think of when the word "Islamophobia" is used. The definition published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims in 2018 has been adopted by many organisations, but has failed to displace the Runnymede 1997 definition in the minds of most people. This was demonstrated by the BBC Radio 4 programme "Moral Maze" on 11 March 2020 in which I appeared as a witness.
Interview by Muniem Batoni of Pakistan
A 26-minute interview given to a Pakistani interviewer, for an audience mainly in Pakistan. It focuses on the situation of Muslims in Britain and the reasons why OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries lag behind in their development. I briefly explain the importance of religious, political and economic freedom, and that Islam supports all three.
Interview by Rizwan Akram of Pakistan
A new Facebook friend in Pakistan Rizwan Akram asked me for a 30-minute live video interview. After covering my personal history, we moved on to my opinions about the development of Pakistan and the progress of Pakistani origin people in Britain. I explained how Britons of Pakistani background are held back by often importing relatives from Pakistan as spouses. I stressed the importance of religious, political, and economic freedom if Pakistan is to develop.
Muslims, Jews and COVID-19
Preliminary data indicates that COVID-19 is impacting Britain's Muslims and Jews more strongly than the wider community. My presentation for The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester looked at the available data and possible explanations. Multi-generational households may be a significant factor.
The relationship between Christianity and Islam - February 2020 version
Academics and believers think about religions in very different ways. It is essential not to confuse the two perspectives. Academically, Islam is obviously derived from Judaism and Christianity. For believers, the Quran came directly from God. I explain how much Christianity and Islam have in common. However they differ markedly about some fundamental religious questions, such as the nature of Jesus and the way salvation is attained. My 23-minute talk delivered to a sixth form group in Poynton.
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester's presentation at the University of Salford
My Jewish Co-Chair and I explained how the Forum was created, why it matters and what it has achieved. As a simple personal example, I had lived in Manchester for over 50 years and never set foot inside a synagogue until we created the Forum. Video of my PowerPoint presentation, audio recording of my Co-Chair's presentation, and of the Q&A session.
Would you believe in a miracle if you saw one?
When I was a student, reading the introduction to "The Book of Mormon" led me to ask a question. What if Jesus worked his miracles today? How soon would people doubt their authenticity? Watching "Messiah" on Netflix reminded me of the question, and I used it for my "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.
The relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Stockport Academy asked me to talk about the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I explained why some people think that Christianity and Judaism are closer to each other than either is to Islam. However, when you look at what the religions say about the nature of God, Jesus and salvation, that view is clearly incorrect. Judaism and Islam are much closer to each other than either is to Christianity.
What do we do with a definition of Islamophobia?
Because Runnymede's 1997 definition of "Islamophobia" was seriously flawed, the word has been contested since then. However, it refuses to die. Meanwhile several revised definitions have failed to gain general acceptance. The Government is currently devising its own definition of Islamophobia. How a definition of Islamophobia will be used is rarely discussed. Accordingly, I wrote an article for the Conservative Home website explaining how I expect a definition to be used.
Free countries should make online anonymity socially unacceptable
The ability to publish our thoughts online, and to share them using social media, has made it possible for everyone to speak to a large fraction of the world. Sadly however, the internet has facilitated intemperate and abusive speech, and the propagation of falsehoods. Much of this is due to anonymity online, which leads people to behave much worse than they would if their identities were know. We can all take action by refusing to engage with anonymous accounts: never respond to them, never share them, never follow them. I made this the topic for my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.
Why don't Muslims talk about Jesus more?
The Quran gives a significant amount of coverage to Jesus, including the story of the Virgin Birth. Despite that, I rarely hear Muslims mentioning Jesus. I used my post-Christmas "Thought for the Week" broadcast to ask why.
The relationship between Christianity and Islam - November 2019 version
Academics and believers think about religions in very different ways. It is essential not to confuse the two perspectives. Academically, Islam is obviously derived from Judaism and Christianity. For believers, the Quran came directly from God. I explain how much Christianity and Islam have in common. However they differ markedly about some fundamental religious questions, such as the nature of Jesus and the way salvation is attained. My 22-minute talk delivered at a secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent. There is now a more recent February 2020 version of this talk higher up on this page.
Having one place called home really matters
In September, I attended the funeral prayers of a close friend in Manchester Central Mosque. While praying, I reflected on how important that location has been in my life, and the importance of a place called home more generally. I made that the subject of my 51st Thought for the Week on BBC Radio Manchester.
Policy Exchange fringe event “Challenging Islamophobia” at the Conservative Party Conference
The event was chaired by Trevor Phillips, with the speakers being Nusrat Ghani MP, Peter Tatchell and Dr Qanta Ahmed. Despite two of the speakers being Muslims and Peter Tatchell being a long-standing human rights campaigner, the event was strongly attacked by Baroness Warsi, based on other people's tweets and then listening to a recording. I deferred commenting until I could watch the event recording. Having watched it, I believe there are no grounds for complaining about the event. It was a good event expressing serious concerns about anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred. The speakers reject the term "Islamophobia", as indeed do I.
Why anti-Muslim hatred has grown, and how to counter it
People hate others for multiple reasons including: race; culture; and religion. Anti-Muslim hatred increases when some Muslims behave badly such as the terrorists of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Countering hatred is more effective when Muslims ally with others. Each individual Muslim has a part to play. My opinion piece for the Islam & Liberty Network.
Does the Quran support Zionism?
Manchester Limmud is a one-day educational conference with mainly, but not entirely, Jewish speakers and attenders. I have spoken there on many occasions. I chose this subject, as a way of learning more about what the Quran has to say. In my view nothing in the Quran prohibits the existence of a Jewish majority state in Palestine. My personal views of the Israel / Palestine conflict are fully set out on my page "A personal view of the Israel / Palestine conflict."
64-minute interview with The Middle West Podcast
The Middle West Podcast appears fortnightly and describes itself as "dealing with Western and inherently Islamic issues through the lens of #BalancingTheDiscourse." This was a wide-ranging interview covering my life journey, the British political scene, individuals and the state, radicalisation, and the key message for young British Muslims.
My definition of Islamophobia
I think the word Islamophobia cannot be rescued after 22 years of poor quality definitions. However most Muslims and many other people don't want to let the word go. The Government has committed itself to coming up its own definition of Islamophobia. Accordingly, I have supplied one. This definition is intended as a complete replacement for all previous definitions.
Refuse to fear minority groups
Genocides don't just happen. Evil leaders create them systematically. Refusing to fear minority groups is an essential defence against such leaders.
My international Manchester
A recording of my presentation at Manchester Metropolitan University on 27 February 2019. Manchester was the world's first industrial city and has long been home to foreign visitors and immigrants. It has been my home since I was aged 1 ¾ and in my lifetime Manchester has seen enormous demographic and economic changes. I explain why people living in a multi-cultural metropolis like Manchester have far greater opportunities than those living in smaller towns or the countryside.
Sex and gender are different
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.
Religion matters for life before death — not just after death
At its heart, religion is about ultimate truth. That point leads to Pascal's wager. However religions also strongly affect the way people live their lives here on Earth. That can be very beneficial for their adherents, or it can be very damaging. My page gives one religious example each way.
Should the Government adopt a definition of Islamophobia? - TV discussion
I appeared in a 26-minute panel programme on TRT World with Afzal Khan CBE, MP for Manchester Gorton, and Imran Shah, spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK). In my view, existing hate crimes and anti-discrimination legislation is adequate. Adopting a definition of Islamophobia will not, of itself, change the law.
The Relationships Education controversy
Many religious parents object to schools teaching their children about the existence of LGBT relationships, and that such relationships are normal. While the most recent controversy concerns Muslim parents, the same issue has arisen with Jewish and Christian parents. This controversy illustrates how the rights of parents can conflict with the rights of children, which it is the role of the state to protect. While teaching must always be age appropriate, all children have the right to be taught that LGBT relationships are a normal part of this world.
Reflections on the killings in New Zealand
The terrorist attack in New Zealand came as a shock, mainly because New Zealand is such a safe country. Sadly, with the level of hatred being propagated, it was not a surprise to find someone seeking to kill Muslims. Apart from the security response, governments need to address the toxic hatred that has recently been spreading through society, assisted by the availability of social media. Anti-Muslim hatred is fed by the actions of violent Islamist extremists, and in turn allows Islamist extremists to promote their narrative that the whole world hates Muslims.
The word Islamophobia should be abandoned
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.
Helping the world also helps you
Few of us can be world-changing figures such as Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. However every one of us can do something, even if it is very little, to make the world better. Doing that will also make you feel better about yourself.
TV appearance: Why Holocaust commemoration is vital
For me, the Holocaust stands out because the Nazis wished to exterminate all Jews, regardless of their age or innocence or loyalty to the German state. The Holocaust is the reason we have the word “genocide” and the post-war Genocide Convention. Holocaust Memorial Day also commemorates the other internationally recognised genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, etc. I had a 22-minute appearance on the Islam Channel, alongside a Jewish guest to explain why everyone should commemorate the Holocaust.
Defining and promoting the word "antimuslimism"
I have previously explained why "Islamophobia" is not a useful one-word way to refer to anti-Muslim violence, hatred, bigotry and discrimination. A new word with no historical baggage is required instead. I propose using the new word "antimuslimism" and offer a definition modelled on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance antisemitism definition.
Jesus continues to inspire us today
I share the story of Maximilian Kolbe. He and other Christians who have lived and died for their faith should inspire all of us, regardless of our individual religious faiths or beliefs. This is the text of my 2018 "Thought for Christmas Day" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.
How Britain has changed in my lifetime - a talk at Tytherington School
I have lived in the UK for over 60 years. I agreed with the headteacher of a school in Macclesfield to talk about how Britain has changed in my lifetime. I recorded it, and you can listen to it while watching the slides which advance automatically. I have also transcribed the question and answer session.
Call for Evidence by the Commission for Countering Extremism
The Commission for Countering Extremism has a remit to tackle all types of extremism. It is led by Sara Khan with whom I broadly agree when it comes to Islamist extremism. She is advised by many people who I hold in high regard. The CCE has issued a call for evidence with a deadline of 31 January 2019. I have responded, and encourage others to do so.
Why I avoid using the word Islamophobia
Anti-Muslim hatred is wrong because it denies people their human right to be judged as individuals, and not as part of some allegedly homogeneous religious group. Many use the word "Islamophobia" as if it were an exact match for "Anti-Muslim hatred". It is not. Islamophobia has various definitions, mostly concerning people's attitude to Islam. Sometimes however people criticise Islam as a disguised way of expressing anti-Muslim hatred.
What the Holocaust teaches us
Why does the Holocaust hold a special place in our consciousness? It is not just the numbers killed. It is the Nazis' desire to exterminate all Jews, young and old, everywhere they could. Also the industrialised killing methods the Germans used, and their meticulous documentation of their crimes. That this happened in one of the world's most civilised countries is a continuing lesson for all of us.
To perform Hajj more than once is a selfish act
Space constraints at Mecca mean that most Muslims will never be able to perform Hajj. If you go on Hajj more than once, you are taking up a slot that would have enabled someone else to perform their only Hajj. In my "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester I asked if that is being selfish.
It is vital for British Muslims and Jews to cooperate
The Labour Party is struggling to deal with antisemitism, while the Conservative Party faces issues with Islamophobia. Historically, European antisemitism was driven by Christianity. Today Christians are generally much more friendly to both Jews and Muslims than are intolerant secularists. Muslims and Jews are stronger facing these challenges together.
Has English law recognised a “nikah only” marriage?
The recent matrimonial case of Akhter v Khan has received significant press coverage. It is potentially a landmark case. The Daily Mail story contended that the law had now recognised Shariah in matrimonial cases. I have read the full text of the judgement, and conclude that the press coverage is inaccurate. In my view the decision is harmful in public policy terms. I also expect it to be overturned if the case is appealed.
Criticising Islam as disguised anti-Muslim hatred
People are free to criticise religions, but they should not denigrate their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, sometimes people motivated by anti-Muslim hatred cloak their language under a veneer of criticising Islam. It is hard to lay down general rules to distinguish between honest criticism of a religion and disguised hatred of its adherents. However, in specific instances the two are often quite easy to tell apart. I also discuss the distinctions between speech which is criminal, or socially unacceptable, or politically unacceptable.
Why the Islam and Liberty Network matters
Ideas, good and bad, have power to change the world. The Islam and Liberty Network promotes the idea that Islam is compatible with religious freedom, economic freedom, and political freedom. Unfortunately, Muslim majority countries are currently often deficient in all three freedoms which is why the Network's work is vital. I now Chair the Network's Council, and give it £5,000 per year. This work can change the world, and needs your support.
What does it mean to love your neighbour as you love yourself?
Jesus taught us to "Love your neighbour as yourself." In my 90-seconds "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester I asked whether that is realistically possible. On this page I also look at identical teachings in Judaism and Islam.
Do Muslim religious texts cause religious persecution?
Extremist Muslims regularly cite certain texts in the Quran and in Hadith to justify their intolerance and persecution of non-Muslims. However these religious texts have always been present in the Quran and Hadith. Accordingly they existed when Muslims were far more tolerant of other religions than was Christian Europe. If the texts are not the reason for the intolerance, then what is? I addressed this question in my October 2017 presentation at Brigham Young University's annual religious freedom symposium.
When will all mankind look the same?
When humans emerged from Africa around 200,000 years ago, they were undifferentiated. Spreading into different environments led to different genes conferring survival advantages. That is why Icelanders look different from Australian aborigines. However technology eliminates virtually all of these genetic pressures. With growing travel and intermarriage, eventually all racial appearance differences will disappear. I estimate this will take less than 1,000 years.
The diversity of British Muslims
People often talk about "Muslims" as if Muslims in Britain were homogeneous. Actually, British Muslims are very diverse ethnically, and this is increasing. British Muslims are also very diverse theologically. I explained this diversity in my 32-minute talk in High Wycombe, and took questions for 45 minutes. On the page you can watch the presentation, and read a partial transcript of the Q&A session.
Lecture on Islam to Christian theology students
I spoke to over 20 students for an hour, followed by an hour of questions and answers. I gave them a comprehensive overview of Islam, focusing on its relationship with Christianity and Judaism. I also tackled terrorism and religious extremism amongst Muslims. Some of the questions indicate a serious lack of knowledge about what the major Christian churches say about the relationship of Christianity and Islam. I recorded the lecture and the slides plus audio can be watched on the page. I have also transcribed some of the questions and my answers and provided the PowerPoint file.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism
The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the UK Government, amongst others. Many, on both sides of the Israel / Palestine dispute, think the definition labels all criticism of Israel as antisemitic. It does not. I wrote an article about the definition on ConservativeHome and have reproduced it on this page. The page also explains the etymological fallacy committed by those who argue Arabs cannot be antisemites. It also explains why "antisemitism" is the preferred spelling.
TV interview at European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In Europe, Mormons and Muslims are both religious minorities, often misunderstood in countries where religious belief is declining. However freedom of religion or belief is essential for a free society. In October 2017 I was interviewed live for 30 minutes about the challenges facing European Muslims and how we can build more cohesive European societies. You can watch it on the linked page.
Radio Interview: My Messages for Young Muslims
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 contains a link for listening to the interview.
How Muslims understand Islam significantly affects their countries' politics and economies
This page contains my first column for the Istanbul Network for Liberty. My key point is that people's religious views matter. Muslim majority cannot be understood, or changed, without understanding and changing how their citizens think about Islam. Their view of Islam may make them very charitable, or make them fatalistic, or make them into bloodthirsty monsters.
All ethnic minority outcome differences cannot be blamed on discrimination
The Government has published a database of ethnic minority outcomes, which it intends to keep updated. The data shows significant outcomes differences between ethnic minority groups. While some of the differences will be due to discrimination, I believe other factors are also very important. I appeared on a TV programme to discuss the Government's report.
Fatalism is religious belief gone astray
Most Jews, Christians and Muslims believe, as I do, that our lives are in the hands of God. Unfortunately, some believe that the true statement “You will not die before your time comes” justifies mistreating their body, neglecting their health, and ignoring basic safety precautions. They misunderstand what religion teaches.
Talk: Christianity and Islam + Violent Islamist Extremism
My recorded 26 minute talk on what Christianity and Islam have in common, and how they differ. The talk also covers the origins of violent Islamist extremism and how to counter it. It was originally given to about 45 pupils at Flixton Girls' School in Manchester.
Short radio interview: Why freedom of speech is vitally important
I was interviewed for six minutes on freedom of speech. My interviewers found it hard distinguishing between the boundaries of polite behaviour, and legal boundaries enforced by the state. I made it clear that people are free to insult Islam as much as they wish, and supported the right of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish. The full 50 minute programme can be heard on the linked page.
The Muslim duty to combat antisemitism
All of us want ourselves and our families to be safe and secure. Wanting this for other Muslims is also understandable. However our duty as Muslims does not stop there. It extends to everyone. Jews suffer far more hostility per person than do Muslims so Muslims must combat antisemitism. I covered this in my five-minute speech at the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester's interfaith iftar.
Why the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester is needed, and why it has succeeded
The Ramadan Tent Project brings together people of all faiths and none to celebrate iftars. I recently attended and spoke at one of the iftars at Manchester University. I was asked to speak about the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. I briefly explained its history, why it was needed, and the key reasons why it has succeeded.
Why do we attend other faiths religious events?
Shared religious beliefs is only a small part of the answer. I believe the main reason is that attendance demonstrates your respect and love for other believers as fellow human beings.
Recording of "Islamic Foundations of a Free Society" panel event
Both extremist Muslims and anti-Muslim bigots often contend that Islam and freedom are incompatible. The book "Islamic Foundations of a Free Society" contains nine essays by various authors. The Henry Jackson Society hosted a panel event, with the speakers being Azhar Aslam (a chapter author), Usama Hasan, and me. The page has a full sound recording and the text of my panel contributions.
How Manchester mourned after the Arena attack
After a death, relatives and friends need to grieve properly, to avoid long term mental harm. Collective grief is also vital for communities when struck by horrors such as the Manchester bombing. In a diverse society, the rituals cannot be taken from just one religion. Instead, the community needs to come together in an inclusive way. Manchester has demonstrated this, showing it will not be terrorised or divided.
Muslim parents have primary responsibility for preventing their children being radicalised
Muslims born and raised in Britain have gone on to commit the mass murder of their fellow citizens. Parents are primarily responsible for preventing children becoming terrorists. Achieving this requires not teaching them some damaging beliefs, while teaching some positive beliefs. Governments also have a role to play.
Defeating the terrorists behind the Manchester Arena bombing
Like many cities around the world, Manchester has now suffered terrorist mass murder. The bomber's background indicates that he was motivated by his understanding of Islam. Muslim parents are responsible for their children's upbringing. If your child grows up to be a terrorist, you as a parent have failed. Defeating ISIS requires Muslims and non-Muslims to remain united, celebrating their shared humanity.
Christians and Muslims should celebrate Passover
Passover reminds all believers in God of His power and His concern for all who worship Him. The Quran give the Passover story in detail. The precise way anyone chooses to remember Passover is up to them.
Preventing terrorism is your responsibility
Security measures, and reporting suspected terrorists, are necessary. However, by themselves they will not end terrorism. We need to avoid bringing up children with attitudes that leave them vulnerable to the appeal of terrorist recruiters. The specific messages required are different for Muslim children and non-Muslim children. Sadly, all too often, both Muslims and non-Muslims fail to accept responsibility for bringing up their children in ways that that will reduce the risk of their being radicalised.
Having a religious belief helps you to succeed in life
Survey evidence shows that richer white Americans are far more likely to practice a religion than are poorer white Americans. Does being richer make you more religious, or does being religious make you more successful? I explain why I think religion helps you to succeed in life.
Integration advice for individual French (and British) Muslims
Governments are responsible for making their countries fairer, and for countering discrimination. However, regardless of the performance of governments, individuals need to make the best of their lives. My six decades of experience of living in the UK have taught me much about what it takes to succeed without compromising one's personal integrity. This page is aimed at both French and British readers.
Why teaching British pupils to do their own Quran translating is undesirable
Muslim prayers use the Arabic text of the Quran, just as Jewish worship uses the Hebrew text of the Torah. Should British Muslim school pupils seek to also translate the original Arabic of the Quran for themselves? The writings of expert Quran translators explain the difficulty of translating the Quran. Pupils doing their own translating risk misunderstanding the Quran or even more seriously may be misled by their instructor. It is preferable for them to study, compare, and contrast different high quality English translations.
Integration in the UK and the Casey report
This 199-page report was written after almost 18 months of work by Dame Louise Casey and her team and contains a wealth of data. Many have criticised the report on the grounds that it mentions British Muslims far more than it mentions other UK religious groups. In my opinion, the extent of the coverage of Muslims is justified by the numbers involved, and because in some parts of the country Muslims are significantly less well integrated than other religious communities.
My reflection on Christmas
As a child growing up in a majority Christian country, Christmas was just part of my life. It meant presents and school festivities. We took the same approach with our own children. Many Christians are unaware how much Jesus is mentioned in the Quran, while many Muslims choose to ignore Jesus. I expect that soon amongst believers in the Virgin birth there will be more Muslims than Christians.
Are Human Rights and Islam compatible?
This event in Parliament was organised by the Inter Cultural Centre. Chaired by George Howarth MP, the speakers were Commander Mak Chishty, Baroness Armstrong and Dr Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh. As well as a link to a detailed write up of the event, the page has an embedded video of Dr Azmayesh's presentation, the Q&A session, and a short interview with me.
Presentation on antisemitism in the UK
PowerPoint slides plus audio of my 18-minute presentation at the AGM of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. I considered the relative incidence of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, the identities of the perpetrators, and discussed the difficult question of when being anti-Zionist becomes antisemitism.
The implications for American Muslims of Donald Trump's election as President
I have low expectations for Donald Trump's performance as US President. However I believe the fears of many Muslims are overblown. In my view the key message from Trump's election is the need for American (and British) Muslims to be politically engaged at all times, not just in the run-up to elections. In particular Muslims need to build alliances with Jews and Christians, and focus on their rights "as citizens", not "as Muslims."
Reducing antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred in Britain
My talk in Bradford on 2 April 2016 to a mainly Muslim audience. Members of groups suffering hatred often focus only on their own troubles. Accordingly I began by explaining to the audience that in Britain the rate of antisemitic attacks far exceeds that of anti-Muslim attacks. Then I outlined what individual Muslims should be doing to reduce anti-Muslim hatred. There are also actions that Muslim groups should be taking.
Religious freedom is fundamental for a free society
Because we have it, Britons take religious freedom for granted. The best definition of religious freedom is in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Religious freedom is of course incompatible with theocracy. However there are limits to religious freedom, and your religious beliefs do not entitle you to harm other people.
Why is France doing so badly at integrating Muslims?
France, the USA and the UK are all liberal democracies which have seen significant Muslim immigration. While the UK and the USA face some challenges, overall Muslim integration in both countries has progressed well. However France lags behind. Secularism cannot be the explanation, since the US constitution is as secular as France's. In my view France's relative under-performance arises from refusal to accept that any change, no matter how minimal, is required of the French state.
Seeing what you want to see in major events
What people say about 9/11 and its implications tells you much about how they see the world.
Our country's non-negotiable values need to be properly specified
Citizens obeying the law is insufficient to achieve a cohesive society. We also need citizens to share a common set of basic values. The UK has been attempting for about 10 years to define these values for our society and there is now a short list. However the values need definition in language that courts can apply. Also I consider that calling them "British values" is a mistake.
Why critics of the Home Office’s Shariah Law Review are wrong
Many Muslim women receive poor treatment when seeking a religious divorce from a Shariah tribunal. Accordingly, the Government is reviewing how Shariah law operates in the UK. The review has been heavily criticised by some people. I explain why the critics have missed the point.
Building a cohesive society depends on you
A society is cohesive if its members belong to groups with many overlaps and linkages. Unfortunately the wrong Government actions can increase separateness. Instead government policy needs to focus on increasing cohesion. However the individual choices each of us makes every day are, if anything, even more important. Choosing to engage with people who differ from you will be more developing for you personally, and will also make society more cohesive.
Publish convicted terrorists’ biographies
Terrorism and intended terrorism by Muslims is a serious problem. However many downplay it, forgetting the many would-be terrorists who have been convicted in the UK. Meanwhile, many others deny that radicalisation is a real process. The Government should publish information after terrorism trials which would demonstrate how widespread the terrorism problem is, and the many similarities in the pathways to radicalisation.
Downplaying European terrorism committed by Muslims
Terrorism in Europe by Muslims receives a significant amount of media and political attention. Many people contend that this focus is misplaced. They cite Europol data allegedly showing that the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in Europe are nothing to do with Muslims. The Europol reports are being cited accurately. However the reliance being put upon them is entirely wrong, because they contain no data on the seriousness of the incidents reported. The data on fatalities shows that since 2001 the overwhelming majority of deaths in the European Union from terrorism are attributable to Muslims.
Lecture: Muslim Jewish relations in the UK
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.
What Ramadan means to me
Muslims fast because God commands us to. However each of us has their own personal perspective on Ramadan. I used my 90 second "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester to explain that for me Ramadan is primarily an opportunity to reduce my external activities to spend more time on reading and reflection.
Debate in Bradford on the UK Government's Prevent programme - video recording
Identifying and arresting terrorists is of course vital for our security. However, preventing people becoming terrorists is just as important. Ever since the "Prevent" programme was initiated, many within UK society have demonised it. On 8 May 2016 I took part in a debate about Prevent. An audience member recorded the debate and posted it on Facebook. Accordingly I have embedded it on my website page. During the debate I stressed that the first victim of radicalisation is the person who is radicalised and who may throw his or her life away. The Prevent programme, and specifically the Channel programme, is about helping such people, not about criminalising them.
Lecture: The Quran recognises religious freedom
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.
Tackling Extremism Amongst Muslims While Respecting Freedom of Religion
Terrorists who are Muslims hold a relatively consistent set of religious beliefs which are shared by other Muslims not currently engaged in violence. Holding extreme views by itself damages peoples' lives, as well as increasing the risk of people going on to become terrorists. Government policies can reduce such religious extremism without infringing the freedom of religion. Some concrete proposals are set out.
What makes us a nation?
Having a "Prayer for the Nation" presupposes that we know what a nation is. There are some simple requirements for becoming one nation. I used this as my "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester. Very briefly, we become a nation from our sense of shared history, from thinking of all citizens as part of our extended family, and from only using the word "Us" to refer to all Britons.
A Muslim Prayer for the Nation
Christians and Jews in Britain regularly pray for the well-being of our nation. British Muslims have not yet developed this custom. However a group of British Muslims have written a Muslim Prayer for the Nation, and given permission for it to be reproduced freely.
Curriculum for Cohesion - Developing minds to heal a fractured world
Ideas, good and bad, have a major impact on the world. 4 ½ years ago, in 2011 Curriculum for Cohesion set out to improve the education of young Muslims in Britain but we soon realised that its work is needed by all pupils, regardless of their religion. We have already changed the History education of millions of pupils in English schools. The project has also broadened beyond education in schools. However it needs more donors.
Why Baroness Cox’s "Shariah Law" Bill is misconceived
Muslim women are often disadvantaged when their marriages break up. For several years, Baroness Cox has been promoting her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill. Despite its neutral title, it is aimed only at Muslims. I consider that it is misconceived because my detailed review of the Bill concluded that it will fail to achieve its intended goals. However it will damage community cohesion. I have now written a short explanation of why the Bill is flawed. Readers living in the UK should write to their Member of Parliament before the House of Commons debate due on 11 March 2016.
Teaching Muslims religious intolerance
Any translation of a book into another language needs great care, as it risks distorting its message. That is particularly true with religious texts. I regard what 2:62 says about Jews, Christians and Sabeans as a particularly important message from the Quran and was recently shocked to find a particular Quran translation putting the verse into the past tense, which dramatically changes its meaning. I have now compared how six Quran translations deal with 2:62. The two translations from Saudi Arabia convey a very different message than do the other four and appear intended to spread exclusivist religious views amongst Muslim readers.
Don't confuse religious questions and empirical questions
Religious and empirical questions are answered by different methods. Accordingly confusing them is a serious mistake. Whether God says that money should only be gold or silver is a religious question. Whether the economy would function better by replacing fiat money with gold or silver is an empirical question. The empirical answer is clear. All advanced economies use fiat money because they run better than they did with gold as money.
Sharing a country with believers in other religions
Mono-religious countries often have difficulty coping with incomers who have different religions. Long experience after the Reformation has taught the UK how to deal with religious diversity. New citizens in the UK, whether born here or immigrants, need to absorb this. Individuals need both freedom from oppression by believers in other religions, and also freedom from oppression by their co-religionists. Interfaith dialogue is essential; it is about mutual learning, and not about conversion or about winning arguments. Ordinary citizens should engage in such dialogue; it should not be left to intellectuals or "religious leaders." My article for the Council of Christians and Jews.
Should Muslims be actuaries? How misunderstandings about Islam spread.
I regularly receive requests for advice, especially about careers. This recent enquiry was from a schoolboy who was under the impression that Islam prohibited Muslims from being actuaries. In response I gave him examples of actuarial practice within Islamic finance. More generally, I stressed the essential requirement to take one's own decisions on religious matters.
Clarion Project interview on Muslim groups fighting extremism
I was approached by the Clarion Project for an email interview on "What Should Muslim Groups Do to Fight Extremism." The Clarion Project has published my interview responses verbatim. In them I explain how a desire to please too many constituencies and poor analysis make some Muslim organisations less effective at countering extremism. I was also asked what I liked about being a Muslim and what makes me proud of my faith.
Simply condemning terrorism by Muslims is not enough
Whenever Muslims commit terrorism, Muslim organisations issue statements condemning it. However in most cases, the statements deny any religious motivation, even when the terrorists state their motivation explicitly. Also the statements rarely contain any positive recommendations for action by Muslims. I regard such an approach as wholly inadequate.
Panel discussion: Is Islam the Cause or Solution to Extremism?
Full 1 hour 48 min video of six person panel discussion before a mainly Muslim audience organised by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA). The speakers came with a range of views, revealed by their comments. My comments are also transcribed on the page. I consider that how one understands Islam can be the cause of extremism or the solution to it.
Political activity builds social capital
Social capital is built when people join organisations and take part in group activities. A particularly important such activity is joining a political party and voting to elect our government.
A review of the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill [HL] 2015-16
There are serious problems affecting Muslim women who are sometimes denied religious divorces, and also women who enter into a religious marriage with no civil marriage. For several years Baroness Cox has been promoting a Bill apparently intended to address those problems. I review the Bill clause by clause and conclude that the Bill will do little to help with the problems but risks damaging community cohesion.
A comparison of British Muslims' and Jews' engagement in interfaith dialogue
My experience has been that British Jews are far more interested in talking with Muslims than Muslims are with Jews. A close look at the two groups explains why there is such a difference. Gratifyingly the difference is eroding as British Muslims are changing with the passage of time. This trend towards greater Muslim interfaith engagement is likely to continue.
TV discussion: David Cameron's Birmingham speech and non-violent extremism
Many Muslims deny the existence of non-violent extremism. The Ummah Channel's "Face the Facts" programme discussed it for 49 minutes. My fellow panellist and the presenter both appear to believe that non-violent extremism does not exist while I robustly supported David Cameron's position as set out in his 20 July speech. The programme can be watched on the linked page.
David Cameron's Birmingham speech on extremism
Prime Minister David Cameron has consistently expressed concern about non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism. His most recent speech on this was given in Birmingham on 20 July 2015. While many Muslims have criticised his speech, in my opinion the Prime Minister is right. Non-violent extremism ruins the lives of those who fall into it, even if they do not progress to violent extremism.
A reflection on the 7 July 2005 London bombings
10 years have gone by since the bombings. They were a terrible tragedy to which Londoners responded with heroism and unity. I have always believed that the bombers' (flawed) religious beliefs were of critical importance since without those beliefs they would not have committed their crimes. Sadly too many Muslims still fail to understand this.
TV discussion: What does "radicalisation" really mean?
A 14 minute programme on the Islam Channel. It had been set up as a discussion of the linguistic analysis of the word "radicalisation". I regarded this as sophistry and a diversion from thinking about the causes of radicalisation and what to do about it.
Muslims need to challenge extremists, not remain silent
PM David Cameron criticised passive toleration of extremism in his speech on security in Bratislava. Many Muslims have criticised the speech but I agree with what Cameron said. In my view silence when people are spouting extremism is not acceptable; they need to be challenged. Also I consider that parents have primary responsibility for preventing their children being radicalised.
A personal perspective on Ramadan
This piece was written for a Christian and Jewish audience. Amongst other things it explains why the month of Ramadan is holy, and why the date moves through the (solar) calendar. I explain how I decide when to fast or to not fast.
Speakers for Schools talk about The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
At Hazel Grove High School, I was asked to speak about the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. I covered my personal contacts with Jews before going on to explain why the Forum was set up, and why I believe it has succeeded.
Has multiculturalism failed in the UK?
I was given 500 words to answer this question. The word "multiculturalism" means different things to different people. In my view the UK has successfully built a society which accommodates people from many different cultural backgrounds by focusing on equal individual rights, while avoiding the trap of "group rights."
What being a Muslim means to me
Religions are often reduced to lists of beliefs and practices. While valid, this approach misses something fundamental. The most important thing about a religion is how it affects your view of the world and the meaning of life. For me the most important aspect of Islam is personal accountability to God.
Video: What does it mean to be British?
I am interviewed as part of an 11 minute video produced by Great Sankey High School. I stress that being part of British society requires accepting values such as democracy, the rule of law and tolerance, while recognising that such values are not exclusive to Britain.
"British values" and the Home Secretary's March 2015 speech on extremism
On 23 March 2015 Home Secretary Theresa May made a major speech on extremism proposing a number of measures to counter non-violent "Islamist extremism." I broadly support the proposed measures, and wrote a Conservative Home article saying so. However the text of the speech on the Home Office website has since been abridged and virtually all of the concrete proposals have disappeared. It appears that the proposals are contested within the present Government.
Pamela Geller’s attack on me
I support the New Israel Fund. After it was attacked by some Israeli politicians, I gave it my public support by signing a petition and tweeting about it. This led to the American political activist Pamela Geller attacking me on her website. She also attacked some illustrious Americans at the same time. Her attack does not merit any response.
Muslim religious marriages and divorces – the problems and ways forward
The difference between religious and civil marriage often causes problems. Many Muslim women have problems getting a religious divorce after their civil divorce. Others have a religious marriage without a civil marriage, finding themselves without legal rights if the relationship breaks down. I outline possible ways forward on both issues.
TV Programme "Halal meat - History or Reality?"
My February 2015 petition on halal slaughter received great community support. One example was a long programme on the satellite channel Iqra TV. As well as me, the programme included a number of other people who are knowledgeable on halal food. It has recently become available on YouTube so I have created a website page where it can be watched.
Classifying bigotry accurately matters
The term "racism" is often used to refer to religiously based prejudice or hatred. That is wrong, since religious groups are generally not biologically defined. Instead the neologism "religionism" is a more accurate term. Using language precisely matters, since the sloppy use of language inevitably leads to sloppy thinking.
ComRes Survey of British Muslims' attitudes for the BBC
ComRes surveyed 1,000 British Muslims for the BBC. Some of the attitudes revealed are encouraging, while others are deeply troubling. I gave the Jewish Chronicle a 25 minute interview about the survey. The short published article that resulted risks giving a mistaken impression of my views regarding the survey responses so I have set them out in detail.
My petition to protect religious slaughter
UK law requires food animals to be stunned before slaughter but there is an exemption for religious slaughter. However the British Veterinary Association are determined to have the religious exemption abolished. Accordingly with the encouragement of my Jewish colleagues, I have created a petition to protect religious slaughter. British Jews and Muslims have vigorously supported the petition, which achieved in 9 days the 100,000 signatures required for a petition to be considered for debate by Parliament.
How reliable are Hadith? Some are contradictory.
Some Muslims regard all hadith in the major hadith collections as indisputably correct. However Hadith scholars have always recognised that hadith vary in reliability. The simplest way to refute the naive belief that all hadith in Bukhari's and Muslim's collections are correct is to list some hadith which contradict each other.
Antisemitic incidents in the UK 2014
For some time the Community Security Trust has published an annual report on antisemitic incidents. The level fluctuates, but whenever there are "trigger events" (usually in Israel and Palestine) antisemitic incidents in the UK increase significantly. No data is available regarding perpetrators' religious beliefs, but the available data regarding ethnicity indicates that individuals who are likely to be Muslims are over-represented amongst the perpetrators. The CST stated that 2014 was a record year for antisemitic incidents. However the CST's historical data is not consistently prepared, and in my view the claim of a record year is unsupported.
The Muslim Council of Britain misunderstood Eric Pickles' letter to mosques
The Department of Communities and Local Government wrote to about 1,100 mosques about the need to combat radicalisation. However the Muslim Council of Britain severely criticised this letter. With a line by line analysis of the MCB's complaints, I explain how I believe the MCB misunderstood the DCLG letter. I also illustrate my own approach when asked to comment on controversial documents.
Muslims' reactions to the Paris attacks of 7-9 January
Muslims' attitudes to printing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) vary. However most Muslims were horrified by the killings in Paris at Charlie Hebdo. Most Muslims also regarded the killings of Jews at the kosher supermarket as completely wrong. I wrote an article about this published in the Jewish Chronicle.
Why it is vital to learn history
An individual's memories give him his identity. Similarly a nation is held together by its collective memories of the past. That makes history a vital subject to study at school, and afterwards. If a people forget their history, or never learn it, they stop being one nation and become just a random collection of individuals who happen to live in the same country.
My reactions to the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo
Muslim organisations were right to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo's staff. However condemnation by itself is not enough. The policy implications must also be considered. Some contend that the killers could not be real Muslims, while others contend that the killers' religion is irrelevant. I disagree with both contentions.
Compendium of Muslim condemnations of terrorism
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.
Review of "Authentication of Hadith – Redefining the Criteria" by Israr Ahmad Khan
Hadith are oral accounts of the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Their authentication has traditionally relied almost entirely upon assessing the chain of narrators. However the author considers more emphasis needs to be given to assessing the text of the Hadith. The book is very clearly written, short, and easy to read and I recommend it highly.
TV Debate: Radicalisation on Campus
A one hour panel discussion about radicalisation generally, with some discussion of the role of universities. It shows how contested the concept of radicalisation is. I consider it a serious issue.
Anti-Muslim prejudice: some causes and counter-strategies
There are several sources of anti-Muslim prejudice, including the behaviour of many Muslims and their choices regarding language. Muslim organisations often also display poor media skills. Muslims need to work with allies in countering prejudice which is bad for all of society.
My speech at the 2014 Curriculum for Cohesion Dinner
How to understand religion in an multi-faith world is a pressing issue. Curriculum for Cohesion brings together academic, teachers, employers and lawyers to achieve this for the use of teachers, lecturers and the judiciary with a focus on Islam. I helped to get the project off the ground and am a patron and the chair of donors. I spoke at the 2014 annual dinner.
Stand for righteousness, not tribalism
Most of us are brought up to identify strongly with our family group, ethnic group and religious group. However God requires us to be just, even if we have to testify against ourselves or our kin. When there is conflict, we come under enormous pressure to "stand up for our side." That should be resisted.
Review of "Hazrat A’ishah Saddiqah (R.A.A.) – A study of her age at the time of her marriage" by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
The traditional view is that Aishah was married to the Prophet (pbuh) when she was nine. Some Muslims therefore regard child marriage as commendable. Meanwhile non-Muslims cite her age of marriage to denigrate Islam and the Prophet. This 24 page booklet looks at the evidence and concludes that Aishah was most likely 19 when she married.
Terrorism by Muslims and two opposing denials
When Muslims become terrorists, some pundits put all the blame on incorrect religious understanding while others point only towards British foreign policy as the cause. I demonstrate why both sets of views are wrong.
The role of religion and belief in British public life
Religion has always featured heavily in British public life but growing religious diversity makes that increasingly controversial. The Woolf Institute has set up a Commission to look at the issues. As the subject is of great personal interest to me, I have made a submission and published it on this website.
The Conveyor Belt Theory of Radicalisation
When Muslim radicalisation is discussed, the "Conveyor Belt" theory is often mentioned. It is an "Aunt Sally"; an obviously false theory mentioned only to be knocked down, as a debating tactic. However radicalisation is a real phenomenon, and I think the right comparison is with a funnel.
A conspiracy to Islamise Birmingham schools? My reaction to the Ofsted, Birmingham City Council and Department for Education reports
The alleged "Trojan Horse" plot to Islamise schools in Birmingham led to a number of emergency Ofsted inspections. Reports on 21 Birmingham schools were published on 9 June 2014. Five schools were rated so poorly that it was recommended they be placed in "Special Measures." I comment on those reports, and the subsequent reports from Birmingham City Council and the Department for Education.
A conspiracy to "Islamise" Birmingham schools?
This spring the alleged "Trojan Horse" plot to Islamise schools in Birmingham had massive media coverage. The letter setting out the plot is widely regarded as a fake. However many parents have complained about excessive religiosity at the schools concerned. In this piece I explain the background.
Review of "Islam – Past Present and Future" by Hans Kung
Kung is one of the world's leading Roman Catholic theologians. This book is part of a trilogy on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While Kung writes as a deeply committed Christian, he provides a genuinely sympathetic and detailed coverage of the origins of Islam, its history and its present day challenges. The book is comprehensive and authoritative, but still very easy to read.
A reflection on the “Shariah wills” hysteria
English law gives people wide freedom to decide how their estate is left under their will. As many Muslims believe that Islam prescribes how their estate should be left on death the Law Society has published a practice note to assist solicitors advising such clients. However the practice note has been attacked in the media and by some politicians. This led me to reflect on the causes of anti-Shariah prejudice in Britain.
When does anti-Zionism become antisemitism?
When Israel is criticised, its defenders often contend that the critics are motivated by antisemitism. The accusation is made even when the critics are Jews. I encountered the argument that anti-Zionism is always antisemitic for the first time a few years ago. However once you define your terms carefully, the question ceases to be controversial.
Perpetually moaning is a bad strategy for advocacy organisations, including Muslim ones
To some, the glass is neither half full, nor half empty, but always empty. However incorrectly assessing the current situation makes it impossible to formulate a good strategy. It causes many Muslim advocacy organisations to focus on the wrong problems, and to fail to identify potential allies. The result is that many such organisations are relatively ineffectual due to following poor strategies.
Review of "A Textbook of Hadith Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification and Criticism of Hadith" by Mohammad Hashim Kamali
The Quran is the primary source of authority in Islam. The second source is Hadith. Hadith are oral accounts of the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This book explains how they were collected and verified. It is very easy to read and should be accessible to everyone who wants to learn more about hadith.
A strategy for dealing with Hizb ut Tahrir
Hizb ut Tahrir seeks to establish an Islamic State that "executes the systems of Islam" and opposes participation in democratic politics. The organisation has led many impressionable young British Muslims such as Ed Husain, Maajid Nawaz and others astray. While I oppose banning it, I believe the false history its ideology is based upon should be combated by teaching a truer Muslim history.
TV discussion on religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue
This was a wide-ranging 54 minute discussion with a moderator and three panellists, including the two Co-Chairs of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Good coverage of how the MJ Forum came about and what it has achieved.
To help others, make a success of your own life
Young people are often idealistic and want to help other people. They need to remember that your ability to help other people is much greater if you are successful and rich yourself. Nobody should feel guilty about concentrating on their own personal success and wellbeing.
The scale of Islamophobic attacks since the Woolwich murder
Anti-Muslim attacks have increased since Drummer Lee Rigby's murder on 22 May 2013. This TV discussion asks whether the scale has been underestimated, with up to date information from Tell MAMA regarding the trend. It also discusses the role of the media, and the policy implications for politicians and the Muslim community.
Technology means that our writings will long outlive us
Historically most people left few written records. However the use of electronic media today generates vast amounts of writing that will be preserved indefinitely. This repository will be of immense value to future historians.
My speech at the Curriculum for Cohesion Dinner - Video & Text
Curriculum for Cohesion is an education project to help all English school pupils which has a glittering array of supporters. I am passionate about it because education transformed my life. I had a chance to explain this in my speech at the recent annual dinner.
Response to criticism of Tell MAMA which monitors anti-Muslim attacks
The CST monitors anti-Jewish incidents and Tell MAMA does the same for anti-Muslim incidents. Both organisations report a similar mix between online incidents, verbal abuse and serious violence. It was no surprise that anti-Muslim incidents spiked after the Woolwich murder. However this has led to some commentators downplaying the seriousness of Tell MAMA's findings, and seeking to discredit the organisation.
Muslim Jewish relations in Britain after the Woolwich murder
The Woolwich murder has given an excuse to anti-Muslim bigots to demonise and attack Muslims. The leadership of the Jewish community, which has memories of suffering similar hostility, has condemned such bigotry. British Muslims and Jews share many common interests and below the level of national umbrella bodies, there is growing evidence of Muslim Jewish co-operation in Britain.
TV phone in - Britain post the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich
The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on 22 May 2013 was a terrible crime. Sadly but predictably, anti-Muslim bigots have used it as an excuse to demonise and attack Muslims. I took part in a one hour phone in programme on the Islam Channel shown live on 30 May 2013, receiving reactions mainly but not entirely from British Muslims.
Religious rituals help us through life
All religions have rituals for specific occasions. While rituals are easily mocked, in reality they help people to share joy and to cope with tragedy. I was moved to write this piece after hearing a bereaved mother explaining on the radio how her friends avoided meeting her in the street. They didn't know how to talk to her about her terrible loss, and did not realise how their avoidance was hurting her. All she wanted from her friends was a hug and an affirmation that they cared.
Doing what is right instead of following the crowd
God giving the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai is a key event for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While is easy to mock those Israelites who lost faith in Moses and began worshipping the golden calf, in reality many people find it easier to follow others instead of doing what is right.
Choose words that unite people
Every day, we influence others when we speak with them. The words we choose to use can divide us from other people, or bring us together. I give some specific examples.
Time to retire Islamism?
For some time, I have believed that the word "Islamism" has ceased to mean anything useful. Worse still, most Muslims see and hear only the first five letters, and see an attack on "Islamism" as an attack on Islam. More recently the US advocacy organisation CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) challenged its inclusion in the AP (Associated Press) 2012 Style Guide. AP has now amended the definition in it style guide to make it more specific.
Lessons from seven years of Muslim Jewish dialogue in Manchester
David Berkley and I have spoken together about Muslim Jewish issues on many occasions. We were asked to give an interfaith lecture in Leeds and shared what we had learned from seven years of dialogue in Manchester, and the personal journeys that each of us have been on.
Religious understanding is a mutual obligation
Muslims are now about 5% of the British population, and 23% of the world's population. If non-Muslims are going to work and trade with Muslims, they need to understand them, which requires understanding their religion. However this point applies even more strongly, in reverse, to British Muslims. 95% of Britons, and 77% of humanity, are non-Muslim, and British Muslims need to understand the religious views of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists etc. as well as those who have no religion. Learning properly about other religions does not weaken your own faith.
Review of "In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World" by Tom Holland
This book sets out to give a historical account of the rise of Islam. This requires evidence in the form of manuscripts, coins, buildings, inscriptions and other tangible remains which the author emphasises are sparse. The earliest written Muslim histories date from a later period. The author first covers the prior history of the Eastern Roman and Persian Empires so that he can put Islam into the historical context of the Middle East. He then addresses the available historical evidence. In his view the Quran originated when Muslims believe, and Muhammad (pbuh) was in Medina. However he considers that Islam did not originate in Mecca but instead between Medina and Palestine.
The theory of evolution and religious texts
Many religious people reject the theory of evolution. However it has almost universal acceptance amongst scientists. Like all scientific theories, it ignores the possibility of divine intervention. If the Bible and Quran are read literally, they contradict evolution. However as well as giving us these religious texts, God has also given us the evidence from life today and from the fossil record. Accordingly each individual needs to decide for themself how to read religious texts in a manner that does not conflict with the evidence we see from the world that God has created.
Review of "In Ishmael’s House – A History of Jews in Muslim Lands" by Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin Gilbert is an eminent historian and Winston Churchill's official biographer. He covers the period from the beginning of Islam to the end of the 20'th century. Under Muslim rulers, special rules applied to Jews (and Christians). Overall, Jews were better treated than Jews in Christian Europe, but periods of tolerance were interspersed with periods of persecution. In the 20'th century, the rise of Zionism led to increasing persecution of Jews by Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, culminating in the expulsion of their Jewish populations.
Edip Yuksel and Farouk Peru debate Islamic reform and the 19 theory on video
Edip Yuksel is a prominent Quranist, believer in Islamic reform, and the leading proponent of the 19 theory. He recently debated in London with another Quranist, Farouk Peru. Their main area of disagreement was the 19 theory. I found myself chairing the event, which was recorded. I have recently learned that the videos are on YouTube. My website page gives some background to the event and also embeds the videos.
Living by principles and rules makes you happier
Unhappiness is sometimes due to personal tragedy, ill health or extreme poverty. However many people who should be happy are not. Often this comes from inability to decide what they really want. Strong personal principles and rules for living stop you making bad decisions and lead to you being happier. It does not matter whether these principles come from a religion or from elsewhere.
Blasphemy should never be a crime
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.
God's infinite love
Humans are used to things being limited. That makes infinity hard to think about. However God has unlimited love, and can give an unlimited amount of love and attention to each of us. I share a numerical analogy which has helped me to think about this.
Eid is for sharing
Some religious festivals are solemn and serious. Others are fun occasions. Solemn festivals will only appeal to believers of that faith. Fun festivals, like Eid ul Fitr, can be shared by everyone.
Why science ignores God
Science is not a body of knowledge; it is a set of procedural rules for seeking to understand the real world. These procedural rules have no place for revealed knowledge. Also, knowing that God is the ultimate cause of everthing which happens does not help us to understand real world phenomena better. Conversely science cannot disprove religious belief. The apparent conflict between science and religion arises from protagonists failing to understand that science and religion are different ways of seeking to understand the world.
Islamophobia – a trap for unwary Muslims
Many Muslims use the word "Islamophobia" as if it meant "hatred of Muslims." However it does not; the word Islamophobia has a distinct established meaning. Accordingly, when Muslims complain about Islamophobia when they intend to complain about anti-Muslim hatred, they are making a mistake. Complaining about Islamophobia makes it easy for people who really do hate Muslims to claim the moral high ground of defending freedom of speech. Instead, Muslims need to be focused and complain about what matters, which is anti-Muslim violence and anti-Muslim hatred.
Humans are all one family
This "Thought for the week" broadcast was based upon a discussion that took place when I was speaking at the annual conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews on "Muslim Jewish relations in an increasingly secular Europe". As well as the text of my radio broadcast, the page includes the abstract for the conference workshop and the slides used for the presentation which focused on how Muslims and Jews can co-operate on issues that affect both communities.
Voting unites the country
Politics often creates strong emotions and is seen as disuniting people. However voting is a great national communal act and we need to remember that all politicians are loyal to their country.
Review of "Islamic Law - Theory and Interpretation" by Michael Mumisa
A short and very readable introduction to the way Islamic Law is derived from its sources. The author The author believes that we need to interpret the Quran afresh for the modern world, rather than feeling bound by traditional interpretations.
To save one life is like saving all mankind
This quotation appears in the Quran and in the Talmud.Two years ago meet a kindertransport child made this quotation vividly real for me. Accordingly I based my second "Thought for the week" radio broadcast around it.
A perspective on shechita and halal slaughter
Animal welfare campaigners regularly allege that shechita and halal slaughter are cruel. I briefly review scientific evidence which contradicts the cruelty claim, and discuss the religious freedom issues.
A Curriculum for Cohesion
Muslim children perform worse in school than any other religious group. Many young non-Muslim Britons grow up hostile towards Islam. I am supporting an appeal for a project which can address both issues.
Shariah is more than a set of legal rules
Many people use the term "Shariah" as if it were interchangeable with "Islamic law." However Shariah which means "the path to salvation" is much more than that. It encapsulates all of the doctrines of Islam.
Reflections on the death of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Svetlana always bore the burden of being Stalin's daughter. While we are commonly judgemental about the children of "bad" parents, God never judges us except by our own actions and inactions.
Reflections on 9/11
It is hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. As well as reminiscing, I assess Al Qaeda's goals and conclude that it has failed and that its time has passed.
Review of "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings" by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
The full English translation of Dr Qadri's meticulous fatwa. It systematically demolishes every Islamic argument the terrorists can put forward to justify their actions.
Review of "Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence" by Mohammad Hashim Kamali
This book is probably the leading work on the subject in English. In 500 very readable pages, the author explains how Islamic law is developed from the original sources of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). It helps one to understand the diversity and depth of Islamic thought.
Review of "The Cambridge companion to the Quran" edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe
This book comprises 14 independent chapters written by academic experts on the Quran, both Muslim and non-Muslim. It is an excellent short introduction to the study of the Quran, and is very easy to read.
Review of "The Road to Mecca" by Muhammad Asad
Muhammad Asad was born as Leopold Weiss in Poland, but became one of the most famous Muslims of the twentieth century. This autobiography covers his first 32 years. It paints a vivid picture of his early life, recreates the Middle East of the 1920's, explains what brought him to Islam, and reflects upon the radical message of the Prophet (pbuh).
Reflections on the killings in Norway
Anders Breivik's mass murder defies understanding. However I have found reading his manifesto helpful.
BBC Radio Manchester interview about the London Bombings
I was interviewed for seven minutes alongside Dr Joel Hayward, Dean of the Royal Air Force Academy.
Preventing people becoming terrorists
Preventing people becoming terrorists is as important as arresting terrorists. While Muslim organisations have been queing up to criticise the revised Prevent strategy announced by the Government on 7 June 2011, I believe they are wrong to do so.
Review of "Qur’anic Concepts of the Ethics of Warfare: Challenging the Claims of Islamic Aggressiveness" by Joel Hayward
In this short paper, Dr Hayward reviews what the Quran says about when Muslims are permitted to fight and the rules which apply. He shows that these rules are almost identical to the Christian "Just War" concept.
BBC Radio Manchester discussion about the death of Osama Bin Laden
I took part in a half hour discussion along with a rabbi and two Christian reverends. The BBC have given me the sound files and permitted me to post them on the internet.
The difference between "multiculturalism" and "state multiculturalism"
David Cameron has criticises "state multiculturalism" on at least two occasions. Unfortunately many misunderstand that as criticism of multiculturalism. I have tried to explain the difference.
We all need to prevent violent extremism – nobody can stand idly by
The Prime Minister's speech in Munich on 5 February 2011 and Baroness Neville-Jones's speech in Washington DC on 1 April 2011 outline the Government's new approach to preventing violent extremism. This page summarises the speeches and outlines what individual British Muslims can do to help.
Reflections on visiting Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is the most important centre documenting and commemorating the Jews who died during the Holocaust. I visited it at the beginning of 2010, and found it very moving.
Statement regarding death threats made against Dr Usama Hasan
Usama Hasan has been threatened with death for sharing his views about evolution and whether hair covering is mandatory for Muslim women. Such threats seek to close down freedom of thought and discussion, and must be resisted by all right-thinking Muslims.
The proper boundary of "Political Islam"
Political Islam causes concerns in many countries. When is it legitimate for a politician to be inspired by religion and when is it not?
Why I wear a Union Jack lapel pin
It changes the way strangers see me, by silently asserting my patriotism.
A brief introduction to Islam for non-Muslims
For many years non-Muslims have asked my wife and me for a simple and short introduction to Islam. Unable to find anything quite suitable for them, I eventually decided to write it myself.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s Need for Constitutional Reform
The MCB has announced that it is reviewing its constitution. I have made a written submission to the review committee which I am sharing on this website.
Review of "A Minority within a Minority: a report on converts to Islam in the United Kingdom" by M.A. Kevin Brice
At the end of 2010, Faith Matters published a 40 page report "A Minority within a Minority: a report on converts to Islam in the United Kingdom". I consider it well worth reading.
Is the correct usage Koran, Qur’an or Quran?
I explain why "Qur'an" is the most correct form, even though I choose to use "Quran". I have also noticed that obsolete usage such as "Koran" and "Moslem" is often associated with anti-Muslim views.
Conference address on the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
I spoke about why and how the Forum was set up and what it has achieved.
Is Israel criticised unfairly?
Israelis often complain that their country is criticised while other countries which behave much worse are not, and that this is unfair.
The European Union threat to halal and kosher food
Muslims, Jews and their friends need to act now to get rid of proposed EU legislation which will make halal and kosher food more expensive, and which could eventually lead to it being banned.
Playing Russian roulette with my baby's health
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.
A guide to Quran translations into English
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.
A response to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach regarding suicide bombers and hell
Muslims believe that only God decides who goes to heaven or to hell. However, this can easily be misinterpreted as moral ambivalence, which Rabbi Boteach has done.
Triangulating the Abrahamic faiths
How do you measure the relative closeness of Judaism, Christianity and Islam? You have to decide what matters most in religious belief and compare what each religion has to say.
 Antisemitism amongst Muslims – a personal view
I feel strongly about antisemitism, but it grieves me most when find it amongst fellow Muslims because I believe that we should be "the best of people."
Review of "Islamic Commercial Law: An Analysis of Futures and Options" by Mohammad Hashim Kamali
This is my favourite book on Islamic finance and provides the reader with a sound grounding in the Quranic and Hadith sources before going on to analyse futures and options. It is the book I always recommend to people who are new to Islamic finance.
Suicide by samosa? Stopping the Asian diet from killing us
I feel very angry about the ill health that plagues Britons of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin.
7/7: Muslim Perspectives
I have assisted a friend in putting together a book where 25 Muslims, including me and him, have shared our thoughts about the London bombings of 7 July 2005.
Why are Muslim majority countries more corrupt?
When you itemise OIC members states on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index, they cluster towards the bottom. I have been thinking about the reasons.
Letter to Israeli ambassador about the Gaza flotilla and blockade
There were been demonstrations in London about Israel's attack on 31 May 2010 on the flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza. I have never been on a demonstration, and prefer to work by other means. In that regard, I wrote an open letter to the Israeli ambassador in London
'I'd invite Melanie Phillips to dinner'
The journalist Chaminda Jayanetti who interviewed me for the Samosa website was clearly taken by my approach as he used it for the title of his wide ranging interview.
Why we need to stop using the word “Islamism
I originally wrote about this on my Telegraph blog as listed below. I decided to write about it again on the Pickled Politics website, as a point often has to be made repeatedly before it gets accepted.
Tortured by algebra? Who can you blame?
Not many people are aware that it was Muslims who are to blame for inventing algebra. While for some this just brings back painful memories of school, algebra is of course indispensible in the modern world.
The university and modern civilisation
I can think of no institution that is more central to modern civilisation than a unversity. Most people, Muslims and non-Muslims, don't know that universities were invented by Muslims. Accordingly, I have written a short history tracing back to the oldest university in the world.
Powerful or powerless?
I was asked to contribute a piece to the newly launched MCB Youth Committee blog. I chose to write about the critical importance of political participation, which I regard as essential to the future of the Muslim community in the UK.
Another charge of reds (sorry, Islamists) under the bed!
Andrew Gilligan’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme “Britain’s Islamic Republic” on 1 March 2010 caused significant concerns amongst the Muslim community. It reminded me very much of the anti-communist witch hunts led by Senator Joe McCarthy.
A poor article comprising mainly innuendo
I was annoyed by a Sunday Telegraph article “Sir Ian Blair’s deal with Islamic radical” which implied that Sir Ian Blair had cooked up some kind of secret deal with Azad Ali, when the reality was a formal cooperation agreement between the Metropolitan Police and the Muslim Safety Forum. Repeating my approach of "taking the fight to the enemy" I began a blog on the My Telegraph website.
Dammed if you do and dammed if you don't!
After regularly complaining about the MCB's absence from the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration, after the 2010 event the Jewish Chronicle complained that the MCB representative was not important enough. My annoyance is evident from the title.
Board [of Deputies of British Jews]: Muslim Council of Britain must be boycotted until reform
Like most Muslims, I was very annoyed by the submission that the Board of Deputies made recommending this. I decided to "take the fight to the enemy" by creating a blog on the website of the Jewish Chronicle.
Are Islamic banks Islamic enough?
In one form or another, this question often crops up at conferences on Islamic finance. In my view, the answer depends upon the personal religious views of each Muslim, and I have therefore not sought to address it in any of my published writings on Islamic finance. However, the receipt by the MCB of an open letter required me to address it when composing the response.
No Muslim should deny Holocaust
Holocaust denial amongst Muslims makes me very angry. Accordingly, when the editor of the Jewish Chronicle asked if he could convert my City Circle blog about visiting Auschwitz into a newspaper article and change the title, I agreed readily. It was my first piece in the Jewish Chronicle.
Reflections on visiting Auschwitz
I regard the Holocaust as the ultimate in human depravity. In 2009 with some other Muslims and Jews I visited Auschwitz, and wrote this afterwards to share how I felt about it.
Review of "Jesus, Prophet of Islam" by Muhammad Ata'ur-Rahim and Ahmad Thomson
The early history of Christianity is not well known by most Muslims, or indeed by most Christians. This book explains who doctrines such as the Trinity and salvation by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross entered the early Christian church. Most Christians are also unaware of how much coverage Jesus gets in the Quran.
Review of "The Israel lobby and US foreign policy" - a blueprint for British Muslims
British Muslims often complain about the influence of the Israel lobby in the USA and the UK. However, for me the key message is that instead of complaining, we need to learn from their commitment to political engagement.
Gaza and the need for peace now
This was written the day after Israel started bombing Gaza at the end of 2008, before the ground invasion in January 2009. I was outraged, but decided to focus on the future and the urgent need for a permanent peace.
Why engage in interfaith dialogue?
I was asked to set down my thoughts on interfaith dialogue and how it should be conducted, if at all. Having done so, I thought it might be worth sharing with a wider audience and published them on the City Circle website.
Seek extremism and you will find it
The Centre for Social Cohesion published a report alleging high levels of extremism within student Islamic societies. After reading the report closely, I concluded that its methodology was fundamentall flawed.
Muslims misguided enough to abandon Islam are free to do so
Apostasy is a controversial subject, and this item generated more comments than any other blog I have written on the City Circle website.
Terrorist + Muslim = "Muslim terrorist"?
This piece tackled another controversial subject. What should we call people who themselves proclaim that their terrorist activities are inspired by Islam?
Better words mean better thinking
This was sparked by a speech David Cameron made. I suddenly realised how using better words results in clearer thinking. As an example, once "forced marriage" entered common usage, I no longer needed to explain that having an "arranged marriage" involved free choice.
Rowan Williams and people's unwillingness to read
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams managed to create a firestorm of protest about the supposed introduction of Shariah law into Britain. In reality, people were simply not reading his speech properly. However, they had some excuse from the complexity of his writing, which I analysed.
Look back and learn
Muslims regularly look back to the "golden age" when the Islamic civilisation created by the Arabs was the leading civilisation in the world. However, I believe that many fail to understand what made that civilisation successful.



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