Imam wins libel payout from Muslim paper over claim he held 'non-Islamic' beliefs

London, UK - A leading member of the Muslim community today accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages after a newspaper wrongly claimed that he held non-Islamic beliefs.

Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford (MECO), had brought proceedings against a newspaper which claimed he was not really a Muslim.

The publisher and editor-in-chief of The Muslim Weekly had accused the doctor of being a Qadiani - and therefore a non-Muslim - in an article three years ago.

His advocate, David Price told Mr Justice Eady at London's High Court that his client was a committed Muslim and was 'deeply hurt and offended' by the May 6 article.

He added his client was concerned that the article would cause readers to think that he harboured non-Muslim views.

Mr Price said the article alleged that Dr Hargey held himself out as the chairman of MECO and a practising Muslim when he was in fact a Qadiani.

It also alleged that he was misleading the public by holding himself out as the chairman of a Muslim organisation and arranging events in that capacity.

The article also claimed that Dr Hargey was sacked from his post teaching Islamic studies at the University of Cape Town as a result of the fact that he was a closet Qadiani.

But Dr Hargey was not a Qadiani and had always been a devout and observant Muslim who believed in the finality of the prophet Muhammad, Mr Price said.

The doctor attended the mosque regularly and had been on a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as well as leading Muslim prayers and officiating at Islamic weddings.

He spoke and lectured widely about Islam and had at no stage misled the public or represented himself as anything other than a committed mainstream Muslim, Mr Price said.

The court heard Dr Hargey was well known as a passionate believer of orthodox Sunni Islam.

Mr Price said he was not dismissed from his post in Cape Town, where his academic responsibility was history and not Islamic studies, but had left at the end of his fixed-term contract to take up a better research position elsewhere.

Mr Price claimed the article risked damaging his client's pioneering scholarship and community work in building up the burgeoning reputation of MECO over the past decade.

Muslim Media Ltd and Ahmed Malik apologised over the article and agreed to pay Dr Hargey substantial damages and his legal costs.