12/23/2014 12:07 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

Mohamed Abdul-Azeez, Popular Muslim Cleric, Resigns From Sacramento Mosque

A tall man in plain dark clothes entered SALAM Islamic Center one Friday earlier this month and took his place on the ground to pray with about 700 other congregants.

Mohamed Abdul-Azeez listened to the visiting imam’s sermon and joined the cycle of prayer, standing to recite the Quran and then kneeling and prostrating twice. He looked both pensive and sad, occasionally stroking his beard and rubbing his forehead.

Azeez later said he knew that many of his fellow worshippers were wondering why he wasn’t in his usual spot on the green and gold stage leading the call to prayer at the Friday Jummah, the Muslim equivalent of the Jewish Sabbath or Christian Sunday services.