Liberals 1 Extremists 0

Although members of this blog have concerns about UK libel law, it is of interest that Dr Taj Hargey, a Muslim reformist, has won damages after extremists attempted to brand him as a heretic.

He sued the Muslim Weekly when it claimed Muslim clerics had pulled out of a conference he organised in May 2006 because he was not a Muslim but a member of the Qadiani or Ahmadiyya sect, considered heretical by mainstream Muslims because of disagreements about the “finality” of the Prophet Mohammed. The paper also claimed he had been dismissed from a previous post at Cape Town university because of his theological affilations.

Dr Hargey argued successfully that he is not a heretic but a mainstream Sunni Muslim, and that he was not sacked from his university post but left South Africa during the apartheid era to pursue a successful academic career abroad.

He said today: “The historic case highlights the right to freedom and dissent within the British Muslim community. Iconoclastic thinkers, liberals and non-conformists who dare to challenge religious authority in Islam by striving to present a rational interpretation of their faith are invariably branded as apostates and heretics.”