The Bayyinah Institute, a Salafi religious training organization, has filed papers at the Dallas County District Court seeking at least $200,000 from Omar Suleiman, a prominent Salafi cleric and a former "instructor" at Bayyinah.
According to the petition, Bayyinah claims that Suleiman breached his contract and a number of fiduciary duties, stole trade secrets and carried out "business disparagement designed to destroy Bayyinah" by threatening and making "false, defamatory statements."
The main thrust of the lawsuit, however, appears to be about $166,446 paid to a Jordanian production company for a film project. Bayyinah claims Omar Suleiman "convinced the Jordanian company to refuse to deliver the film to Bayyinah as agreed and to refuse to return the $166,446.00 paid by Bayyinah."
Interestingly, Bayyinah's lawsuit was lodged just a week after a number of Muslim women claimed they had been sexually harassed by Nouman Ali Khan, the founder and CEO of Bayyinah. In fact, Bayyinah is essentially just Nouman Ali Khan's personal project. The harassment claims caused a powerful scandal within the American Muslim community, and was even reported in Buzzfeed and as far away as Pakistan.
Facebook is abuzz with conversations among Western Muslim activists discussing both the accusations against Khan and the lawsuit about Suleiman. Many believe the two issues are related. Islamist clerics are also divided, with many publishing social media posts defending or attacking Suleiman or Khan.
At Islamist Watch, we can only speculate on the harassment accusations and claims in the lawsuit. We can be certain, however, of Nouman Ali Khan and Omar Suleiman's extremism. We have written about both these clerics on a number of occasions. Khan and Suleiman are Salafis with long histories of inciting hatred and even violence against women and homosexuals.
Khan argues that adulterers, prostitutes and pornographic actors should be whipped, justifies sex slavery, excuses violence against women, and denounces homosexuals.
Rather similarly, meanwhile, Suleiman warns Muslim women, without condemnation, that if they engage in pre-marital sex or adultery, they risk being killed. He describes homosexuality as a "repugnant shameless sin" and argues that sex slavery is good for society.
This intra-Islamist fighting reminds us of some crucial lessons: Sunni Islam is not homogenous; no cleric or organization can claim to represent all American Muslims; and eventually the Instagram Islamist clashes with the extremism or hypocrisy of his offline behavior.