Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Court Upholds Removal of Mosque's Finance Director

In Islamic Center of Passaic, Inc. v. Salahuddin, (NJ App.,Jan. 13, 2020), a New Jersey appellate court upheld the removal of defendant as finance director and member of the governing Shura Board of a New Jersey Islamic Center. Defendant was the wife of the founder and long-time spiritual leader of the Center. She clashed with the Center's new imam, refusing to allow him or the Shura Board to oversee her financial transactions on behalf of the organization.  The court said in part:
Here, the parties' claims arise from Islamic Center's constitution and bylaws and do not involve religious doctrine or practices. The trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law concern whether Islamic Center complied with the procedures set forth in its organizational documents. Judge LaConte applied neutral principles of law to determine if Salahuddin was lawfully removed from office. Resolution of the parties' purely secular claims did not trespass on their religious freedoms.
With respect to Salahuddin's substantive claims, our scope of review of the judge's findings in this nonjury case is limited. We must defer to the judge's factual determinations, so long as they are supported by substantial credible evidence in the record....
[W]e are convinced there is substantial, credible evidence supporting Judge LaConte's findings of fact. We also agree with his legal conclusion Islamic Center complied with its constitution and bylaws when removing Salahuddin as finance director and Shura Board member.