Historically, the Muslim American community has kept its disputes private, sometimes turning to faith-based mediation. But as the number of mosques increases and Muslims integrate with mainstream America, conflicts involving clerics, congregations and mosques are seeping into secular courts from California to Texas and Florida.
Intergenerational friction offers significant fodder for legal actions. U.S. mosques are evolving from traditional institutions run by the eldest community members to democratized nonprofits with bylaws and elections, even women in positions of power. Oral traditions have become written.However it is not just Muslims that are turning to civil courts. Last Sunday in San Jose, California, over 5,000 members of a Sikh gurdwara cast ballots in a court-ordered election of officers. The San Jose Mercury News reports that all 21 incumbents were re-elected, ending extensive litigation between a reformist faction and existing leaders who raised millions of dollars in the 1980's to build the gurdwara. Insurgents say that merely having an election was a victory.