Tensions among leaders at the Lodi Muslim Mosque have escalated to the point where the mosque has sued its former imam -- in essence the pastor -- and two former mosque presidents.
The mosque, which serves 350 to 400 Muslims in Lodi, has sued five individuals who are working to construct an Islamic school on Lower Sacramento Road between Harney and Armstrong roads. The school is proposed by an organization called the Farooqia Islamic Center, which is independently operated from the mosque.
Mosque leaders maintain that plans to construct the Islamic school were done without the mosque board's approval or knowledge. They also maintain there has been no accounting of money generated from donations by mosque members toward the Farooqia project and how money generated from the sale of a seven-acre site the mosque once owned has been spent.
The five people named in the suit are former Imam Mohammad Adil Khan and four members of the mosque board -- two former mosque presidents, Aman Khan and Nasim Khan, Ramzan Ali and Mohmmad Hussain. None of the Khans are related, they said.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, is classified as a fraud case, according to San Joaquin County Superior Court records.
Lodi resident Taj Khan, speaking on behalf of the defendants on Wednesday, said it's crazy for the mosque to sue two previous presidents and former imam.
"How stupid can you be? But that's the way it is," said Taj Khan, who said he isn't related to the three Khans named as defendants.
Khan said he couldn't comment further on the lawsuit because he hadn't spoken to the defendants yet. He said they have not sought out an attorney.
"Do you know any good attorneys?" he asked on Wednesday.
Mohammad Shoaib, who took over as mosque president in November 2003, said in an interview last year that he fired Mohammad Adil Khan as imam a short time later. Mohammad Khan was replaced by Shabbir Ahmed.
Shoaib deferred comment on the suit to the mosque's attorney, J.T. Rishwain. Rishwain didn't return calls for comment. A copy of the lawsuit, which was in Judge Carter Holly's chambers at the San Joaquin County Superior Court, wasn't immediately available Wednesday.
A Sept. 15 court date has been set.
Since he was allegedly fired as imam, Mohammad Adil Khan has continued living in a house on the Farooqia Center property. He submitted the plans to San Joaquin County to develop the center.
The first phase of the Islamic center call for a 1,600-square-foot temporary tent for worship and some classrooms. In the second phase, the tent would be replaced by a 12,900-square-foot worship hall to accommodate 400 people.
The county Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing and consider issuing a use permit to construct the Farooqia center on 6:30 p.m. April 21 at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds. The Grape Festival was secured because of the large crowd expected for the hearing, said Chandler Martin, the county's deputy community development director.
The Planning Commission was scheduled to consider the use permit last September, but it was postponed because Mohammad Adil Khan, the applicant, hadn't resolved traffic issues on Lower Sacramento Road with the county's public works staff.
Public works engineers recommend that the Planning Commission, on April 21, prohibit southbound traffic on Lower Sacramento Road from turning left directly into the Islamic center. The county will also prohibit any U-turns from southbound motorists in the Harney Lane-Armstrong Road area.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.