Masjid-Al-Aman is a huge mosque that sits near the border of Queens and Brooklyn in East New York, and broadcasts Islamic Calls to Prayer five times a day through roof-mounted loudspeakers that can be heard by all within a 20-block radius. Nearby residents have filed hundreds of noise complaints against the mosque, but the noise continued.
“They have to have some consideration for us—it’s noisy. Too, too noisy,” one neighbor gripes, adding that she can’t get used to the azan “because you have no idea when it’s going to happen.” Not true, says one of the mosque’s congregants: “Calling to prayer for a Muslim, five times a day, is a no-brainer. It’s an absolute necessity.”
Last spring, after a city noise inspector measured the call to prayer at above the legal limit, the city asked the mosque to turn it down, too. The mosque’s lawyer claimed exemption under a city code covering bells, chimes and organs at houses of worship. But a judge disagreed and issued a $450 fine.
However, the mosque’s neighbors could soon get relief. Masjid Al Aman, a mosque and community center that has served Muslim residents in East New York for over 25 years, is the latest house of worship on the path to foreclosure due to a denial of property-tax exemption.
City Limits Due to unfinished construction work and related violations, Department Of Buildings has not renewed our “Property Tax Exemption” status since 2015. Over a million dollar property tax accrued over the years now became a “Tax Lien” against Masjid, Ready to be sold to Private investors unless we finish construction and obtain the “Certificate of Occupancy.”
The New York City Department of Finance has refused to extend the exemption the Masjid has had since 2010 because the charity is doing costly construction and doesn’t currently have a Certificate of Occupancy.
Every summer, the Department of Finance sells all debt on its books to a third party private trust which can add 18 percent interest compounded daily to the original amount it purchases from the city, pursue collection and hire an attorney to foreclose on the lien on its behalf. After foreclosure, the property is auctioned and the trust gets proceeds of the sale, in addition to fees and interest; buyers are usually corporate and other for-profit entities.
The recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on employee benefits. The change could cost groups tens-of-thousands of dollars.