Muslim Parish in Hackensack Wages Legal Battle over Sale of Mosque

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The Hackensack Masjid, founded in 1995, has been located inside this local landmark for nearly two decades. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.

Over the past year, members of a Newark mosque have rallied their community with weekly protests against the underhanded sale of the Branford Masjid. Their ongoing court battle is a reminder that the value of a building, especially a prayer hall, is much more than the price of bricks and mortar. Now, a Muslim congregation in Hackensack finds itself in a similar legal ordeal against a board of trustees.

“We bought this building with our own donations and we’ve been here for the last 20 years,” Kamal Elfeky told Jersey Digs at a protest outside the mosque at 78 Trinity Place.

Elfeky, along with three other founding members of the Hackensack Masjid, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the board of trustees violated bylaws — as well as the Muslim ethical code of sharia — when they decided to relocate the mosque without the consent of its members.

“This is a building where our families made ties,” Elfeky said about the local landmark built in 1911. “Our kids have grown up here. We are spiritually attached to this building.”

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Members of the Hackensack Masjid pray during a protest last week over the sale of their mosque. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.

The division within the mosque was sown last summer when city officials notified them that a new apartment complex will soon be built at the site of a municipal lot that the congregation relied on for parking. In October, the board of trustees bought a nearby building at 720 Main Street, which they intended to be the new mosque. Soon after, they proceeded with the sale of the former red-brick mosque. In November, Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian granted a preliminary injunction, temporary barring the sale. The next court date is Wednesday, December 22.

The board, meanwhile, posted a statement on their website defending the sale. The note states that “from a religious point of view, the scholars amongst themselves differ when it comes to selling an existing building that belongs to the Muslim community. From the evidence we have, we realize it is permissible and not forbidden to relocate our activity in this building to another one taking into consideration the welfare of the community.” Jersey Digs reached out to the law firm representing the board for comment but never received a response.

Nevertheless, Elfeky believes there are other ways to resolve the parking issue without selling the mosque. “We sat down with the board, but they were not able to convince us the building needed to be sold,” Elfeky said. “We have to keep this building for generations to come.”


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