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Minhaj-ul-Quran International offers Dr Joel Hayward support

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Minhaj-ul-Quran International wishes to express its strong distaste of the vilification by the Daily Mail on 7 and 8 August of Dr Joel Hayward, a well-regarded scholar who serves as Strategic Policy Advisor to Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, founder and patron of Minhaj-ul-Quran International.

We wish to express in the strongest terms our unreserved support of Dr Hayward, a gentle, moderate Muslim of impeccable character with a strong track-record of supporting the causes of equality, inter-faith dialogue and multiculturalism.

Attacking a senior academic and attributing negative actions to him based on an anonymous source, apparently only because he is a Muslim at a senior professional level, is not only bad journalism, but it undermines the very trust between British faith communities that Dr Hayward has worked so tirelessly to foster.

The attack on Dr Hayward is an unfortunate example of the anti-Muslim prejudice that still exists in some sections of British society; a prejudice that Dr Hayward – as a successful western professional and a moderate Muslim – should never have had to experience. He is definitely anti-extremism so labelling him the “Ayatollah of the RAF” was highly inappropriate, foolish and cruel.

Minhaj-ul-Quran is an international Muslim human rights and welfare group which promotes democracy, equality, integration, inter-faith harmony and which condemns all extremism and terrorism. Dr Hayward is both a member and an advisor. We greatly value his support.

Dr Hayward has been a strong advocate of Minhaj-ul-Quran International’s efforts to foster closer relations between all faith communities in the United Kingdom and to diminish the influence of radicalism and extremism. His work to prevent terrorism is highly commendable and we are dumbfounded that he has been criticised, not praised. He should be positively recognised for his efforts to make our society safer and less fractured and we would like to draw attention to his positive and effective efforts.

Dr Hayward recently wrote the Introduction to Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri's highly influential 512-page Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings. This is the most substantial, scholarly and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism ever written by an Islamic scholar. Dr Hayward, who sharply criticizes all Islamic terrorism in the fatwa's introduction, entirely shares Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri's scholarly assessment "that regardless of any motives, terrorism can never be supported and is in fact condemned by the Holy Quran and the Sunnah."

We commend Dr Hayward for his extensive efforts on his own time as a volunteer worker with Muslim youth and community groups to teach them about the value of integration, multiculturalism, interfaith dialogue and especially about the evils of terrorism and extremism. Dr Hayward has supported several Minhaj-ul-Quran International de-radicalisation workshops at which he has been very effective at explaining the motives and methods of terrorism as well as developing strategies for de-radicalising youth and hopefully preventing another terrorist atrocity. This is highly valuable work and it is unbelievable that Dr Hayward’s well-known efforts were not included in the character-assassination article.