Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Lester D. Foreman, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication August 5, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Zwick delivered the opinion of the court. Theis, J., and Quinn, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zwick
JUSTICE ZWICK delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff sought leave to file an action sounding in quo warranto, alleging that defendants had improperly assumed directorships and corporate offices of the Muhammad Islamic Corporation and had acted without authority in removing plaintiff as president and chairman of the board of directors of the corporation. Upon defendants' motion, the trial court denied plaintiff's request to bring suit, finding that resolution of plaintiff's claims required the court to interpret Islamic religious doctrine. Plaintiff has appealed, contending that the court abused its discretion in denying him leave to bring suit because his claims could properly be resolved by application of "neutral principles of law."
In his petition for leave to file an action sounding in quo warranto, plaintiff alleged the following relevant facts.
The Muhammad Islamic Corporation (hereinafter "the corporation") was originally established in 1978 and was subsequently incorporated under the General Not For Profit Corporation Act of 1986. 805 ILCS 105/101.01 et seq. (West 1996). *fn1 The purpose of the organization was to promote and further the Islamic faith in the Chicago area. The corporation operated an Islamic mosque, which was the principal corporate asset.
Plaintiff Jabir Muhammad served as the corporation's president and chairman of the board of directors since it was originally organized in 1978. The other members of the corporation's board of directors were Dr. Samella B. Abdullah, Mr. John Glenn Omar and Dr. Tasneema Ghazi. Defendants were not legitimately appointed directors or officers of the corporation, although defendant Safiyya Muhammad-Rahmah, plaintiff's daughter, had on occasion served as secretary for the corporation in addition to serving as plaintiff's personal assistant and secretary.
The corporate bylaws specifically provide that the affairs of the corporation shall be managed by the board of directors. Directors are chosen by majority vote of existing Directors from among the mosque members, and the act of a majority of those directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the board of directors. A quorum requires the presence of two or more directors, at least one of whom shall be the President or a prayer leader. The corporate bylaws also set forth the notice requirements for a special meeting, which mandate that written or actual oral notice of the time and place of any special meeting of the Board of Directors shall be given at least 2 days prior thereto. The members of the corporation are not entitled to vote on directors.
The Illinois Not For Profit Corporation Act provides that "a director may be removed by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office present and voting at a meeting of the board of directors at which a quorum is present. 805 ILCS 105/108.35(b) (West 1994). Notice of a meeting whose purpose is to remove a director requires written notice of the proposed removal be delivered to all directors as lease 20 days prior to such meeting. 805 ILCS 105/108.25 (West 1994).
On or about January 19, 1995, defendants Safiyya Muhammad-Rahmah, Omar Muhammad and Mulazim Rahmah, plaintiff's daughter, son and son-in-law, respectively, ostensibly held a meeting of the corporation, removed plaintiff as president and chairman of the board of directors, and installed themselves as directors and officers of the corporation. Mulazim Rahmah was installed as president, Omar Muhammad as treasurer, and Safiyya Muhammad as secretary.
The January 19, 1995, meeting was not called by plaintiff or by the other directors. Directors Abdullah and Omar did not receive written notice of the January 19, 1995, meeting, and they were not in attendance. Plaintiff received a telephone call on the night of January 19, 1995, shortly before the meeting, requesting his presence at a "family gathering," but he declined to attend due to ill health.
As a result of defendants' actions, they obtained exclusive control of the corporation's Islamic mosque and closed the mosque to the members of the local Islamic community, including plaintiff, effectively denying them the opportunity to worship.
Plaintiff claimed the actions of defendants were invalid and sought leave to file the instant quo warranto action, challenging their right to ...