WEST VALLEY CITY - Imam Shuaib-ud Din has been terminated from his position as religious leader of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake amid allegations of domestic violence.
Police said they responded to a "domestic-related incident" at Din's home a week ago, and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office reported an attempt to serve a protective order against him on Thursday.
Contacted by phone, a relative of the imam said he was in Chicago now but would not comment on the allegations. The relative acknowledged that Din and his wife were having marital problems but said the imam was driven out of town by disgruntled members of the society's board.
Police Lt. Matt Elson said officers responded to Din's home Jan. 13 at 12:05 p.m. The call was completed at 4:32 p.m.
There were no arrests made, and Elson said he was not aware of any warrants. He would not comment on any other details of the incident.
The imam's relative said that by about 8 a.m. Jan. 13, Din already had left Salt Lake City after being dropped off at Salt Lake City International Airport by board members who took him there and suggested he leave the country. With no immediate flights available to Chicago, the imam rented a car, drove to Las Vegas and caught a flight to Chicago, his relative said.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office on Thursday obtained a protective order against Din, said Lt. Paul Jaroscak.
Two attempts were made to serve it, but deputies could not locate Din, Jaroscak said.
On Friday, Iqbal Hossain, a member of the Islamic Society's board, stood before more than 300 Muslims who had gathered at the Khadeeja Islamic Center mosque for afternoon prayers and read a statement on behalf of the society. Hossain said the imam has been "absent from the mosque and his home" since Jan. 13.
The board, of which Hossain is a former president, met after the allegations surfaced and requested a meeting with Din, Hossain said. But the imam, whom the board did reach by phone, never showed up for the meeting, Hossain said.
"To this date," the board "remains unaware of his whereabouts," Hossain said.
Din's relative, who asked not to be identified out of safety concerns, said he left town because the board had forced him to.
The relative said the abrupt departure - one that left the imam "in shock" - was driven by something more than his marital issues. The imam, the relative said, had recently raised concerns about board finances, the exclusion of women from the board and the housing of "suspicious" individuals in the mosque.
Tarek Nosseir, who assumes the position of Islamic Society president today and is acting as the spokesman on this issue, stepped out of a closed meeting at the mosque Friday night to address the claims. He said he was out of town Jan. 13 and talk of Din's forced departure was "all news" to him.
He focused, instead, on the fact that Din was absent from his duties and suggested personal issues might have been distracting the imam.
"We have five prayers a day that need to be led," Nosseir said. "We need someone who can attend to the affairs of the society." After careful consideration, he said the board decided there was "enough evidence presented against" Din for board members to say "let him go" - which they formally did Monday.
As for Din's other concerns, Nosseir said the society had recently hired an accountant to help with finances; that women - though none currently are on the board - are "more than welcome to serve"; and that as head of the mosque, it is the imam's job to monitor who is staying there.
Hossain, the one-time society president, called this a "difficult time" for the Muslim community, but he told the group gathered at the mosque Friday afternoon, "We shall overcome this challenge. . . . May Allah bless us all." Nosseir said his first order of business will be to appoint a search committee to find a new imam.
Din, 35, stepped into his role seven years ago. Masood Ul-hasan, who was society president at that time, on Friday called the recent developments a "sad situation" and emphasized that he did not want this news to reflect on everyone else.
"It's his personal issue," Ul-hasan said. "It has nothing to do with the community."
The imam's house, near the mosque, appeared to be vacant Friday. His relative said Din doesn't know where his wife and two young children are and that his repeated attempts to locate them have failed. "His greatest concern is his kids," the relative said. "He just wants to talk to them and know they're OK."
Neighbors said that on Thursday, they saw officers accompany a woman - presumably the imam's wife - to the home, where she appeared to be picking up some belongings.
Nosseir said he knew nothing about Din's wife or his children's whereabouts