UPDATE: 5Pillars can confirm that the lawsuit against Imam Omar Suleiman by Bayyinah Institute was dismissed on Thursday 30 November 2017.
Nouman Ali Khan’s Bayyinah Institute is suing Imam Omar Suleiman for hundreds of thousands of dollars for allegedly stealing corporate secrets while he was an employee at Bayyinah.
Lawyers for Imam Suleiman, who along with Nouman Ali Khan, are two of the most prominent Muslim public speakers in America, strongly deny what they call “unjust allegations” which are “contradictory, confused, fabricated, and verifiably false.”
In documents that were filed in a court in Texas on October 5, Bayyinah seeks a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, permanent injunction and damages from Imam Suleiman.
The document states that Imam Suleiman was an employee of Bayyinah between 2014-16, during that time he “was given access to Bayyinah’s trade secrets and confidential information including expert techniques in marketing, social media reach, production quality, content enhancement and advertising”.
The document continued: “Through his exposure to Bayyinah’s operations and his full access to Bayyinah’s trade secrets including knowledge of key business contacts from around the world, Suleiman obtained the knowledge necessary to compete with Bayyinah’s public media efforts through using expertise, confidential information and trade secrets he obtained from Bayyinah.
“Suleiman’s actions violated his legal obligations to Bayyinah. Suleiman’s actions violated his fiduciary obligations to Bayyinah.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Omar Suleiman:
- Stole an idea about the companions of the Prophet which was developed for Bayyinah and used it for an independent venture outside the company;
- Caused Bayyinah to pay for his personal health insurance after he had left the company;
- Convinced a Jordanian company to refuse to deliver a film to Bayyinah and to refuse to return $166,446 paid by Bayyinah.
The case further states: “After the termination of his employment, Suleiman has used Bayyinah’s trade secrets and confidential information to create and operate the several businesses he has created, all to the disadvantage of Bayyinah.
“Moreover, since the time of his termination of his employment by Bayyinah, Suleiman has engaged in a course of conduct which includes business disparagement designed to destroy Bayyinah or, at the least, to reduce Bayyinah’s position of a competitor of Suleiman.
“Based on information and belief, Suleiman has contacted numerous mosques with which or through which Bayyinah has done business or has held strategically advantageous relationships and advised them to disassociate themselves from Bayyinah and Nouman Ali Khan.
“Suleiman has published false disparaging words about Bayyinah’s business interests with malice, without privilege and such publication caused Bayyinah special damages by reducing Bayyinah’s income from activities in which Suleiman is a competitor.”
5Pillars contacted Imam Suleiman for a response to the lawsuit but he told us that he preferred not to comment and redirected us to his lawyers.
However, his lawyers Hamilton Wingo say they have agreed to represent him for free and are prepared to fight these “unjust allegations with every resource available and for as long as it takes.”
In a statement to 5Pillars, Chris Hamilton of Hamilton Wingo, said: “We would not agree to take this case pro bono if we believed the allegations against Imam Omar Suleiman had one ounce of merit. The factual allegations in the lawsuit are contradictory, confused, fabricated, and verifiably false. He is one of many national leaders threatened with legal action in the last few weeks.
“This abusive and retaliatory litigation is only to serve as a smokescreen or distraction from the underlying allegations of misconduct committed by the owner of the corporation that filed the lawsuit, which have now been well-publicised and widely condemned by the most respected sources.
“The record of Imam Omar Suleiman speaks for itself. He is the founder of two non-profit organisations, and in fact used to donate his financial portion from the seminars at the filing corporation to a well-known International humanitarian organisation, Helping Hand USA. To be accused almost two years after his resignation of breach of contract should be an obvious sign of the intention of this lawsuit.
“I am proud to stand with him against these fabricated, false, and frivolous allegations made only to silence him. The lawsuit is without merit. If the case proceeds, in-depth discovery will be conducted into the allegations that have been made publicly by other sources against Nouman Ali Khan and Bayyinah, LLC.
“We are not making any public statement at this time regarding the facts and details of those underlying events. We will allow the public record and evidence to speak without our commentary on this matter.”
Nouman Ali Khan allegations
News of the lawsuit came after Nouman Ali Khan recently rejected claims that he had “inappropriate interactions with various women.”
Following the allegations he posted on his Facebook page that matters pertaining to his personal life had been taken out of context and manipulated. He said he is divorced and any communications he had with women were in the context of seeking to remarry.
He wrote: “Recently evidence was discovered, only and only by the grace of Allah, that this was all part of a scheme. My employees discovered loads of explicit illegal activity that some of these individuals were involved in knowingly and others were just along for the ride at the expense of me and my company. I decided to get legal help and protect my family, my employees, myself, and my work from them. I found evidence of explicit lying and deliberate exaggerations.”
Meanwhile, former employees and senior students at Bayyinah, as well as people who claim they are family members and friends of Nouman Ali Khan, have signed an open letter condemning lawsuits filed by Bayyinah.
The letter stated: “An attempt to silence is a sign of guilt. Recently, Nouman Ali Khan has gone so far as to file lawsuits against and/or legally threaten numerous community leaders, ex-employees, and even family members. These tactics come as no surprise to us… as this display of threats and intimidation is merely an extension of similar behaviors we have witnessed from Nouman Ali Khan over the years.
“We have either witnessed or been on the receiving end of his demands for blind loyalty, demands for signed papers guaranteeing our silence, verbal intimidation, and the unjust firing of employees who questioned certain suspicious behaviors and interactions that they witnessed. This culture of dirty politics is not one that an innocent man would resort to.
“We condemn Nouman Ali Khan’s attempts to use such tactics to silence people and divert attention from his own misdeeds by making baseless claims and exaggerations. Nouman wants this to be seen as a personal vendetta against him or a business conflict. It is not. We stand by the statement of the independent and upstanding scholars that have investigated this matter, and have requested Nouman to step down. We urge the public to continue to put pressure on Nouman to stop his attempts at silencing those around him so that the truth can come to light.”
Furthermore, the prominent American Muslim activist, Dalia Mogahed, has also defended Imam Suleiman.
Writing on her Facebook page, she posted: “Let’s start by saying that Sheikh Omar Suleiman is one of the most sincere, upright and honest people you’ll ever meet. He does what’s right when no one’s looking. He defends the vulnerable when there are no cameras around. He takes personal risk to his own safety and reputation to stand up for people who don’t get the same platforms. So many others have said this, but it merits repeating again and again.
“Now his integrity is being called into question by what is a textbook frivolous lawsuit. This is when someone sues you for trumped up claims, not because they think they have a case, but just to bury you in legal fees and drain your emotional and intellectual energy. Sadly, this is what has happened to Sheikh Omar in retaliation for his and other scholars (privately) holding Nouman Ali Khan accountable for thoroughly investigated abuses of power against subordinates or students – all who came to Sheikh Omar and the others for help.
“Seeing this lawsuit, which is entirely contractual in nature, as anything but deflection and distraction is simply ludicrous. Sheikh Omar left Bayyinah nearly two years ago without incident but somehow these grievances were suddenly remembered now? Such convenient timing. If we want leaders that stand up for what is right in the face of personal risk, if we want to see moral courage in our Scholars, we need to show up for those who do.”
UPDATE: 5Pillars can confirm that the lawsuit against Imam Omar Suleiman by Bayyinah Institute was been dismissed on Thursday 30 November 2017.