A key requirement for a successful economy is reliable, relatively inexpensive, and rapid, enforcement of commercial contracts. Sadly the courts of many countries cannot be relied upon when it comes to enforcing contracts, particularly when foreigners are seeking to enforce contracts against local country residents. The case of Dana Gas and its sukuk default illustrates this very well.
Islamic banks fulfil the same economic functions as do conventional banks. Furthermore, the services they provide to their customers, whether "depositors" of money or "borrowers" of money, are essentially the same. Accordingly it should be no surprise that both types of bank derive competitive strength from the same leverage attributes.
About 25 years ago, Price Waterhouse's (now PricewaterhouseCoopers or PwC) global strategy was heavily focused on the distinction between "foundation attributes" and "leverage attributes". A foundation attribute is one you must have to play in the game; a leverage attribute is something that gives you competitive advantage. Because Shariah compliance is essential for all Islamic banks, it does not distinguish one Islamic bank from another. Hence it is a foundation attribute.
Islamic finance has basically the same economics as conventional finance. This naturally leads to the question of whether Islamic finance makes any difference to the world. I see its key benefit as bringing people into the financial system who would not use conventional finance for religious reasons. Islamic finance should also discourage borrowing to accelerate consumption.
My correspondence with a journalist on the apparent choice between AAOIFI and IFRS accounting standards. In most cases, financial institutions cannot choose which standards to use; their regulator prescribes the accounting standards to apply. Quite separately, users of accounts need to remember that AAOIFI and IFRS standards have different goals. The page also includes my subsequent Islamic Finance News article, and links to some other resources on my website.
My latest 90-second "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester was devoted to unconscious bias. In it, I shared two examples of my own unconscious bias, including a riddle which defeated me, my wife and my sister. The page also has some additional resources on the subject including the Implicit Association Test. By understanding and overcoming your own unconscious bias, you will make the world a better place.
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.
Walter Mischel's marshmallow experiments showed that children as young as four differ in their ability to defer gratification. Those who can are far more likely to succeed in life. It is an ability you can teach yourself by taking it seriously. I made this the theme of my BBC Radio Manchester "Thought for the Week" delivered on New Year's Eve.
Islamic banks are banks which operate in accordance with rules set by Shariah scholars. As both conventional and Islamic banks fulfil the same economic functions, they face similar transfer pricing issues. I gave some technical responses to a researcher and based this page on them. The page starts with a basic explanation of what transfer pricing is.
Islamic finance arrangements need to be Shariah compliant throughout their life. Unfortunately some borrowers initially accept their arrangements are Shariah compliant, but assert non-compliance when repayment is due. Several such cases have resulted in litigation. Late assertions of Shariah non-compliance create extra risk in Islamic finance, thereby making it more expensive. They also damage Islamic finance's reputation. Contractual uncertainty in Islamic finance must be minimised.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was invited to speak to the sixth form at Ibstock Place School in Roehampton. I addressed this question, and explained that continuing technological progress will produce a cornucopia of goods and services. The pupils' real challenge will be to find meaning for their lives in a world where most of them do not need to work.
Many young people are so unselfish that their career aspirations focus entirely upon helping others. They should focus on taking care of themselves. As well as avoiding becoming a burden on others, becoming richer will enable them to help others more.
I was invited to speak to the sixth form "History and Politics Society" of a girls' school in London about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as providing a brief history of the dispute, the most important point I made was the extent to which people take sides on this dispute. I emphasised that both parties to the dispute have rights and wrongs. That is what makes it so difficult. I recorded the 21-minute presentation for this website.
This short book gives a vivid account of a momentous period in Indian history. In 1799, the 19-year old Ranjit Singh created an empire in the Punjab, led by Sikhs but including Muslims and Hindus, that he ruled for 40 years.
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.
A colleague decided at 40 to stop learning. Her career then died, illustrating the importance of continuous learning. I personally also dislike change, but have taught myself to embrace it. That habit considerably enhanced my career as well as my capability outside work. I believe that when people avoid learning new skills, it is because they don't think they can, or don't accept that it will raise their value in the job market.
Top 20 pages
The pages I most recommend listed in alphabetical order.
If you want to understand the Quran and are not an expert in Classical Arabic, you need a translation. Where do you start? I recommend some translations, as well as commenting on some other translations.
This conflict has endured for over 60 years. It matters because of the status of Jerusalem and because many see the conflict as a religious one. Achieving peace requires difficult concessions from both parties but a two state agreement is the only realistically acceptable solution. It is essential for Israel to avoid policies that would make a two state solution impossible.
Blasphemy features prominently in the news from time to time. Many believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence everywhere, as it already is in some countries. In the UK the blasphemy law only ever applied to Christianity, and has been abolished. I believe it should remain abolished. In my view Islam does not prescribe any penalty in this world for blasphemy.
Like many other Muslims, I am fed up with hearing the refrain "Why do Muslims not speak up and condemn the terrible things that are done in the name of Islam?" The reality is that Muslims have condemned terrorism time and again. However quite often the media gives very little coverage to the condemnations. They may get a slight mention, and then they are forgotten. Accordingly I have created this page and will add to it from time to time condemnations that I regard as particularly significant.
There are many Islamic finance glossaries available on the internet. I have create another due to some specific objectives about spelling and to give more detailed explanations than the typical glossary. The glossary will grow slowly as I add words to it. If there is a word you would like me to include, please let me know.
Being overweight has health risks and also makes career success harder. After receiving unwelcome news in my annual medical, over the year to July 2014 I reduced my weight simply by counting calories. It was much easier than I expected. You can read how to do it, or watch my 28 minute PowerPoint presentation with audio.
My 51 minute lecture with slides given at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. It covers both the common interests of British Jews and Muslims and the causes of tension and division. I explain in detail how the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester was designed to sidestep the problems, and why it has succeeded over the last 11 years.
In April 2016 I gave the second Annual Religious Freedom Lecture of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society UK and Ireland Chapter. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 18 sets the global standard for freedom of thought, conscience and religion and it has my full support. I used the lecture to explain how the Declaration is consistent with Islam. My approach was to first explain the basic sources of Islam before going on to show how some key principles of Islam, clearly stated in the Quran, support religious freedom. 40 min audio recording with self-advancing PowerPoint slides.
Having a successful marriage requires taking it seriously, and making the right decisions, both before and after the wedding. While my wife and I have been happily married for many years, I have also observed many other people in unhappy marriages. Hence I have written 10 specific pieces of advice aimed at Muslim women. 8 of those are also relevant to Muslim men.
In this 22 minute acceptance speech I explained why I regard my life as so blessed, and why I do what I do in retirement. I also gave the students five pieces of advice, and encouraged them to give to the College.
Marrying your first cousin increases the risk of your children having a serious genetic disorder. As well as discussing the risks, I link a number of scientific papers, so that readers are not left in any doubt regarding the facts.
I am the principal author of this report published by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and the International Tax and Investment Center. It looks at the taxation of four common Islamic finance structures: commodity murabaha, sukuk, salaam and istisna in eight MENA region countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and also in the Qatar Financial Centre. The report recommends how these countries should adapt their tax systems to facilitate Islamic finance.
Why does capitalism work in the West, but fail in so many other countries? In the 1990s Hernando de Soto and his colleagues went fact-finding. They went into the streets of developing and former communist nations to learn what real people are achieving inside and outside the formal economy. They found that even poor people in such countries have assets and savings which could be used for successful capitalism, but nevertheless these countries are underdeveloped. In this book they summarise their findings and explain the key changes underdeveloped countries need to make to transform their economies.
An explanation of my view that the euro was created to increase the cross-border integration of european business and an analysis of what has gone wrong and what needs to be done. I forecast that all current members, even Greece, will remain within the eurozone.
Most people see only their own CV. I have seen many, most of them written in ways that would get them rejected by a recruiter. I have illustrated the failings with a real life "before" and "after" example.
Curriculum for Cohesion is an inter-disciplinary research project that is developing a method for understanding the nature of religion in a multi-faith world, with a focus on Islam, to inform the practice of teachers, lecturers, prison officers and the judiciary.
I am a patron. It is probably the most important charitable activity of my life.