Canadian Council of Imams Statement Regarding the Termination of Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman from the Ottawa Muslim AssociationWritten by Canadian Council of Imams
Jan 16th, 2024 Statement Regarding the Termination of Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman
The Canadian Council of Imams (CCI) calls upon all Mosque boards to follow ethical and professional practices when dealing with Imams and other employees. In a current case, the CCI expresses deep concern regarding the termination of Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman from his position at the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA). In an era marked by unprecedented rates of burnout and turnover within Canadian Imams, the CCI feels compelled to now publicly address the circumstances surrounding his departure.
The termination of any Imam’s contract, while it is the employer's right, it should be approached with the utmost care, respect, and adherence to ethical principles. It is our belief that, as a matter of professional and moral responsibility, employers should provide proper notice and engage in transparent communication when making such decisions. Unfortunately, it appears that this was not the case in Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman's situation.
Over the last month, CCI engaged in discussions and mediation involving the OMA board and the Ottawa-Gatineau Imams Council, with the hope of finding a mutually agreeable solution. The following concerns were identified during the mediation process, and it is of paramount importance to address and acknowledge them to reach a fair and just resolution to this matter:
1 Delayed Contract Renewal Notice: Despite numerous requests by Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman to be informed about the renewal of his contract, the OMA board engaged in over six months of discussions and provided the Imam with less than two months' notice after his dedicated service of four years at the Mosque. This lack of timely communication is unethical and fails behind the professional standards that honor the commitment of any religious leader.
2 Inconsiderate Evacuation: The request for Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman to vacate his residence in the middle of winter and the school year, especially knowing that he has four children enrolled in school, raises serious ethical concerns. This action lacks compassion and consideration for the well-being o} the Imam's family.
3 Sudden Termination Implications: The sudden termination of the Imam's duties, without clear communication on the reasons, implies underlying issues regarding the Imam's conduct and performance. Such ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and tarnish the reputation of the Imam without proper justification.
4 Disruptive Announcement Timing: The announcement of the termination of the Imam's duties before Friday prayer and without clarification created a chaotic situation, causing Fitnah in the Mosque and resulting in conflicts among the community members. This untimely revelation lacked sensitivity and disrupted the harmony within the congregation.
5 Unethical and Unprofessional Practices: The culmination of these actions, collectively, reflects a departure from ethical and professional standards. The termination process failed to respect the Imam and his contributions to the Ottawa community over the past four years.
Many members of the Ottawa Muslim community have reached out to CCI to get involved. However, the CCI had maintained optimism that the issue(s) surrounding Imam Dr. Muhammad Suliman's termination could be resolved amicably. Regrettably, despite our collective efforts, we were not successful in achieving a resolution that would uphold the principles of justice and fairness.
The CCI urges the OMA board to bring the community together again and reconsider the circumstances surrounding his termination, emphasizing the importance of providing a fair and just resolution to this matter. The CCl urges all Mosque boards to provide stability and support to their Imams as they continue to provide dedicated services and a high standard of leadership.