Settling into Ramadan 2023 – London

On the 2nd of Ramadan I was at work. I work part-time at a university.

I try to be quite animated in my teaching style. I will wave my arms around, prefer to stay on my feet, and walk around, as well as vary the tone of my voice.

Of course, I don’t talk all the time, and make sure the students speak more.

I was teaching from 9 am to 3.30 pm and was hoping that everything would be fine.

After midday and half-way through my second class, I started feeling something in my head. Yes, I was beginning to develop a headache.

At the start of Ramadan, many will start feeling withdrawal symptoms of various kinds. I knew what my headache was probably down to; lack of tea!

In these instances, we have nothing else to do but to carry on.

The headache stayed and got worse, but I continued as normal, waving around my arms, and speaking at the top of my voice, and being my enthusiastic self.

In reality though, I probably have it easy. There are people working in more difficult circumstances, and with longer working hours. I can think of construction workers being busy in physical work. I can’t imagine how they must get through the day (but they do!), doctors and nurses working 12 hour shifts, sometimes having to open their fast, or even start it in between the small breaks they have.

And then I remind myself of people who are in suffering as a result of poverty, or even being in war zones. The list could go on.

What unites people, is the sense of purpose Ramadan brings. To worship Allah (the creator of everything), and to place a greater emphasise on spirituality.

I had no headache the following day. I was beginning to settle into Ramadan.

1st of Ramadan 2023 – London

It’s Wednesday evening, and I have arrived at a small mosque in Norbury, London for the evening prayer.

This is no ordinary evening. The following day Muslims around the world will be fasting. It is the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.

The mosque has a new beautiful prayer mat laid out on the floor, which gives a feeling of cosiness and comfort.

There are more people than usual attending the mosque, and as more arrive, the Imam suggests we all get closer together in our rows so that others can fit in as the mosque becomes packed. It gets a bit tight, as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, but we accept it, as we need to be accomodating of others, who enthusiastically have arrived, giving up their normal daily routines.

The Imam recites the Qur’an from memory in a melodious voice. The rest of us who stand behind him, listen with solemnity. It is a wonderful feeling, knowing that we will hear these recitations throughout this beautiful month, bestowed upon us by the creator of everything.

After two hours, I am back home, go to bed, mentally preparing myself to get up before sunrise to eat something before the fast begins.

The following morning I get up at around 3.40 am. We have until 4.24 am to eat before it is time for the early morning prayer start time.

I have some yoghurt, a banana, pear, a couple of straberries and dates. I also have a boiled egg, as well as drink some water and tea. I need my cup of tea.

As the fasting time begins, I pray that this first day goes by smoothly. With our habit of eating, giving up food for a whole day may seem daunting,. In reality there is nothing to fear. Indeed the human body is resilent.

Fasting is not about starving yourself. It is about getting closer to Allah. It is about sacrifice and prayer. To reflect, and be more focussed on spirituality. Now how many of us get a chance to do that!

Over a billion Muslims are doing this at the same time.

The day goes by and before you know it, the fast has ended.

It has been a fulfilling day. Perhaps, the feeling of, “I got through it.” There was nothing to worry about.

During the day I prayed, read the Qur’an and was focussed.

During the day I wonder about my friends and colleagues who are not Muslim, but distant observers. I wish they could feel what I am feeling.

I love this month. It makes me more god-concious and so happy!.

Thank you Allah.

Reflecting on life in an age of AI

Apologies for my absence from blogging (not sure who I’m speaking to, perhaps it’s a false sense of being important).

There is much talk these days about ChatGPT, and Microsoft’s $10 billion dollar investment into Open AI.

Whilst we are mesmerised by the headlines and the promises of more automaticity, and being able to communicate with our devices directly (speaking to them), and of course perhaps we may not even have to write, if machines (like a tech servant) do what we command them to, and even do our writing for us, it is important to keep an open mind about technology developments.

Humanity is dynamic, we are complex creations, and our potential to understand is significant, but we have a tendency to be distracted.

However, in this day and age where we flip from laptop to smart phone, and then back to laptop, without even giving ourselves times to reflect, there is a danger of getting carried away.

I am not against new technology, and new developments, but the question I ask myself, is this. How many of us take even one hour in a week, to think about what is going on, and what the real purpose of our lives is?

If perhaps we did, we could take a step back from all of this chatter and bring back some balance to the way we view the world.

The point of all of the above? Take time out to think and reflect before you are taken in by all that is around you, and you forget your real purpose in life.

Teaching is on the verge of a revolution – Part 1

With the unprecedented crisis the world is currently going through, it’s not surprising that many feel concerned and uncertain.

As the spread of the Covid-19/ coronavirus creates further disruptions to our daily way of life, the potential ways in which our lives will change are still far from predictable.

Whether isolation is a short or medium-term response to a disease we do not yet seem to understand, one thing is for certain, it will impact on the way society operates as well as policy.

Across the world, educational establishments are having to shutdown and hurriedly try and come up with strategies to deal with the provision of education.

Amongst the perceived wider chaos, educators could play a pivotal role in providing an element of hope to society at all levels.

Whereas in the past we have taught primarily face-to-face and used technology as an add-on, the tables are about to turn. The time to be passive towards technology is now a thing of the past.

The technology was always there. The circumstances we find ourselves in will force quick change and change education forever.

The question is, are you ready for the challenge? Most of us already have some experience of using technology for education. Now however, it may well become a pivotal skill everyone needs.

Will this affect teaching, learning and assessment? Probably. Teaching methodology? Probably. Interaction between instructor and learner? Probably. Does it mean the end of face-to-face interaction? I don’t see this happening. It is too early to make that kind of judgement. In the very short-term perhaps, which could provide a taster of what may happen in the future.

However, and this is the most important point. If you are not ready to adapt to the new circumstances, you may be putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. As AI and machine learning develop apace, we need to position ourselves in the newly developing ecosystem.

Yes, we are going through difficult times, and our lives seem to have been turned upside down. Perhaps we are too stressed at this point in time to look ahead, as we try to cope with what is still an unclear situation around us.

Nonetheless, we have to make an effort to see through the phantom we are facing and look beyond. We need to stand up strong and face the challenges in front of us. In short, we have no choice but to prepare.

Every one of us has the potential to move forward. Learning is a constant of life we cannot avoid. In reality, adapting to new situations is part and parcel of this life. In fact, learning and planning is a part of our profession. So basically, this is not beyond anyone.

As someone who also has a foot in the accountancy profession, I’m actually quite glad I’m in education. The view is that technology could adversely impact on many professions. Us educationalists could ride-out the current storm.

This is not about becoming an expert at something overnight. In reality all that is needed is a small effort every day. Ask those around you for advice, start looking into the tools that are currently available. There is no need to panic.

Some of us need to take a leadership role in the matter and start facilitating programmes to help our brothers and sisters prepare for how we are likely to work in the very near future.

We are a resilient species. There is hope. Take steps to change and encourage others too.


I’m thinking of starting a company and have thought about employing only people who are over 50. Why? Simply because I think they have a lot of experience, wisdom and open mindedness to new ideas. They are skillful. They are into technology. They value their time and so are likely to be more productive. The chances are they will be loyal and trustworthy and will be grateful. Importantly, I cannot even start to imagine the knowledge they bring to the company. Who wouldn’t want someone like that.

The plan is to let them choose their hours. If they don’t want to work a whole day, that’s fine. If they want to work a full day, that’s also fine. Perhaps someone could work from 8-11, another could work from 11-2, a third person could work from 2-5.

They will get unlimited holidays, sick leave, and can take unlimited time off to care for a family member.

They will act as coaches and mentors some of the time, and coachees and mentees at other times. Why? Well, there’s always something new to learn. It’ll be a supportive environment.

There is more I could say, but let’s stop here for now.

Does anyone have a problem with the ‘age limit’?

Comments or views welcome.


Listen to an English translation of the Quran

As the Muslim month of Ramadan (2019) approaches, it’s an opportunity to reflect on life, and specifically the message of God (Allah).

It is also an opportunity for those who are curious and open minded, to find out more about Islam by listening to this English and Arabic rendition.

Quran recitation by the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Maher Al-Muaiqly.

English translation by Dr. Waleed Bleyhesh Al-Amri.

English reading by yours truly.

The first three chapters of the Quran are presented here:


With warm wishes and regards. Peace.

If we take care of the teachers, they will take care of the students

Part of my role at work is to facilitate and plan the development of teachers.

It is not an easy role. The most challenging part is to convince teachers that any development plans we have are there to help them become better in our particular context. It is not about keeping them busy in order to make the boss look good, or for creating fancy reports at the end of the year. That is certainly not the intention.

However, without taking the context fully into consideration, no policy, no matter how good, will work.

Over the years, I have realised that teachers are not only motivated by different goals, in fact their motivation and performance in class is affected by wider issues.

If teachers are having a hard time at work generally, such as for example low pay or apparent lack of support from administration, such as unrealistic curriculum goals, or even problems at home and other personal issues, professional development will fail.

In addition to this, if students are used to judge teachers via student surveys, and the results are not nuanced or balanced by other considerations, teachers are bound to feel hard done by.

Fundamentally, what I have realised, is that we need to find out more about what is going on with teachers at an individual level, both professional and personal, before we can make judgements about their classroom performance.

Teachers typically come into the profession due to their want and need to help and support students, and to feel the satisfaction of having impacted on the future. They are also naturally creative, and do not need ‘us’ to teach them how to teach. They already know how to teach. We should be there to lend a helping hand and to provide support to help them become even better.

We rarely ask teachers about their classes and the challenges they face. How often do we give space to teachers to even question the instruments that are used to measure their performance?

A multiplicity of factors impact teaching adversely. An unhappy teacher will result in an unhappy student.

If we see them as merely a tool for reporting performance, then we have failed them.

Fundamentally, the message I am trying to convey here very briefly, is that teachers are the treasure that educational institutions cannot do without. We need to find out more about their needs and desires, and appreciate their talents and experiences.

Providing professional development (PD) in a vacuum without addressing other work and non-work issues results in ineffective PD.

Once the teachers feel that we are taking care of their needs, teachers will be able to start taking care of their students, which of course is the ultimate goal of education.


International Medical Students and Professionals English Language Requirements

The General Medical Council in the UK now allows international medical students and professionals the option of either taking the IELTS exam or the OET (medical option) as part of the registration process.

For IELTS, the requirement has been an overall score of 7.5. This requires a minimum of band 7 in any of the IELTS skills. However, if a band 7 is received on any one of the skills, a score of 8 will be required in at least one other skill in order to gain an overall of 7.5.

For those taking the OET, a grade of at least ‘B’ in each skill is required.

Please note, that both exam options are similar in difficulty. International exams are thoroughly tested and go through a stringent validation and checking exercise before being released to the public. Please do not decide to go for the exam that you believe is easier. They are both equally hard.

The advice I give potential candidates, is that you need to focus on language development, Merely practicing samples of exams is not enough to gain a better result. Ultimately, your language needs to improve, which requires daily exposure to the language.

If you want to find out more please fill in the contact form. Please click on the link below:

Contact form

All the best!