An Imam Which is Not at All Welcome Among Traditional Muslims

gay-immam-abdullah-1jpg  Introducing Daayiee Abdullah: The First Openly Gay Imam in America gay immam abdullah 1jpgWe wrote this piece not to mock the man nor the faith (ok, maybe just a little) but mainly to show how the multiculturalist pro-diversity agenda will destroy christianity and well as Islam in the long run. The whole western civilization as we know it today will not be far behind when everything become to circle down the drain once the two main monotheistic religions had been eradicated. There is no evil enemies you can kill to stop it. This destruction will be accomplished by well meaning, loving and caring people like this man who are absolutely sure that they are fighting the good fight and that they are on the right side of history. People who are on the side of inclusion and progress. Daayiee Abdullah (born Sidney Thompson) [1] is a gay African American, self-proclaimed Imam currently living in Washington, D.C. [2] Abdullah is said to be one of three openly gay Imams in the world; the others being Muhsin Hendricks of South Africa and Ludovic Mohamed-Zahed of France [3] Abdullah operated the Al-Fatiha Foundation until it closed in 2011. [4] Abdullah is a controversial figure because he is openly gay and describes himself as a Muslim leader at the same time, even when everybody knows that male homosexuality is forbidden in mainstream Islam. [5] Pretty much every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. The branding of homosexuality as “evil” has kept many people living a double life: by day they are pious and by night they are pious and homosexual. One of the most challenging spheres for sexual freedom is in Islam. Abdullah has been condemned by other Muslim leaders, and some local imams have even refused to greet him. [6] However, Abdullah believes he has “a slightly different vision of Islam”. He told Washington Post that it “may take a while for the world to catch up.” [7] But whatever what people might say or think, Imam Daayiee Abdullah is proud of his atypical life story. The man was born and raised in Detroit, where his parents were Southern Baptists. At age 15, Abdullah came out to his parents, and was accepted after assuring them that they had “done nothing wrong.” [8] Abdullah said that he knew he was attracted to men at the age of five. [9] His parents, who are now both deceased, were a source of inspiration and confidence for him when he was growing up. Despite their more traditional background, his parents always supported him, his six older brothers, his younger sister, and his oldest step-sister from his father’s first marriage to find religion despite his parent’s Southern Baptist beliefs. [10] When he was 8 years old, looking for a form of spirituality suited for him, he visited a Synagogue, a Hindu temple, and a whole bunch of Christian denominations. [8] None of these religions he had explored fit him exactly, so he continued his quest for a religion he could put his faith into. At 33, while studying in China, Abdullah converted to Islam. According to the story, his conversion to Islam was prompted by some of his classmates who were from Ürümqi that were Chinese Muslims. [11] They asked him what he knew of Islam, which lead to being invited to his very first Beijing Mosque. [12] At this first mosque, Abdullah understood everything that was being said and knew this was the faith he had been searching for. At age 30, he became a Muslim and chose to sometimes go by the name Daayiee Abdullah. He didn’t add on the title Imam until later. [13] After that he went on to study the religion in Egypt, Jordan and Syria. [14] Being a gay man in America, he became accutely aware of the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims had unmet spiritual needs.

Amsterdamse grachten kleuren roze  Introducing Daayiee Abdullah: The First Openly Gay Imam in America gayimmam

Around 2000, he joined the online Yahoo! group Muslim Gay Men. [15] On this forum, there were many who claimed to be gay, but were intent on telling those who were seeking help that the Qur’an forbids homosexuality. Abdullah attempted to refute these comments by explaining that one is to follow the Qur’an first and the Haddith second. [16] Through this, he began to gain popularity among homosexuals and allies across the online community. One of the reasons he had began to be called Imam was because he has performed many ceremonies for people in who were considered pariahs in their community due to illnesses or the gender or religion of the person they wished to marry. This is what motivated him to become an imam. Abdullah decided that he wanted to provide community support to those people who were spiritually disenfranchised: “Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. And because of the necessity in our community, that’s why I came into this particular role,” he told America Tonight about his journey. [17] His first act as an imam? Performing funeral rites for a gay Muslim who died of AIDS. “They had contacted a number of imams, and no one would go and provide him his janazah services,” he said, referring to the Muslim body cleaning ritual. That pained him. “I believe every person, no matter if I disagree with you or not, you have the right as a Muslim to have the proper spiritual [rites] and rituals provided for you. And whoever judges you, that will be Allah’s decision, not me.” It’s one of the mantras he lives by in his work, even as others condemn him for adapting Islam to his wishes and desires. [18] According to the traditional interpretation of Islam, those who has an inclination that is not acceptable to god just have to control themselves and that’s about it. [19] As of 2006, Abdullah was in a long-term relationship of ten years. His partner is Christian, which is one of the reasons he performs these religious ceremonies between Abrahamic religions. [20] Because the Abrahamic faiths are sister religions, and because the Qu’ran says that Abrahamic believers can interact with other Abrahamic believers, Abdullah believes that it is plausible to marry between Abrahamic religions. [21] Abdullah attempted to create an LGBT-friendly masjid in Washington D.C., but it failed because there was much fear over what the community would do to those caught attending. [22] Later, in 2011, he helped create a mosque for anyone who wanted to attend located in a public library in D.C. [23] The plan is to raise funds to create a purpose-built mosque of their own where all are free to worship. [24] Since 2000, Abdullah has provided specialized counseling services for Muslims from a wide spectrum of Muslim religious and cultural backgrounds. Abdullah is currently the imam and religious director of Masjid An-Nur Al-Isslaah (English: “Mosque for Enlightenment and Reformation” or “Light of Reform Mosque”), an LGBT-welcoming mosque. [25]He is the co-director of Muslims for Progressive Values. [26] He also holds a position in Oslo, Norway at Skeiv Verden (“Gay World”). [27]

At Abdullah’s There is a Place for Everyone…

gay-muslims4  Introducing Daayiee Abdullah: The First Openly Gay Imam in America gay muslims4A tall, heavyset man with a trim salt-and-pepper beard, Abdullah often wears a rainbow pride pin on his lapel. He is regarded as something of a folk hero among gay Muslims in Washington. “He’s like the Harvey Milk of gay Muslim leaders in America,” says Abdelilah Bouasria, an American University adjunct professor of Arab sociology, who recently developed a syllabus for a proposed class called “Forbidden Middle East.” “It’s important Americans know that there are many progressive Muslims.” [28] Most scholars agree that the Quran, which Muslims believe is the written word of God, does not explicitly prohibit women from leading prayers or gay people from taking leadership roles in Islam. The holy book also does not forbid men and women to pray together. [29] Yet, centuries of scholarship on the Quran and the sunnah (the way the prophet lived his life) have resulted in the prevailing view among Muslims worldwide that prayer leaders should be male and that homosexual activity is a sin. “The beautiful thing about God is that when you change your attitude, and say, ‘God, I need some help,’ and mean it sincerely, God is always there for you,” Abdullah told congregants one night during a regular sermon, known as a khutbah, at the Light of Reform Mosque in Washington, D.C. [30] He serves as the imam and educational director of the mosque, which he helped form more than two years ago to be a safe space for values and practices that other mosques may eschew. During his service, women and men kneel side-by-side and women are allowed to lead prayers – actions that have sparked controversy even among American Muslims. “We do not limit people by their gender or their sexual orientation, or their particular aspect of being Muslim or non-Muslim,” he told America Tonight. “They’re there to worship.” [31] To answer the question of whether women should lead prayers, records of the prophet’s life — whose authenticity remains under dispute — are seized upon by people on all sides of the debate. Progressive scholars say the prophet permitted women to lead prayers at any time. In three-quarters of American mosques, women gather in separate rooms or behind partitions or curtains, according to the most recent mosque study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. [32] The practice stems from Quran, which says that men and women should maintain modest relations. The Quran does not explicitly say the sexes must keep separate. People like Abdullah say they take their cue from the early years of Islam, when it was common for men and women to pray together. They point to Mecca, the holy Islamic city where Muslims go on pilgrimage every year and where men and women pray side by side. [33] The mosque’s congregants are diverse and represent a wide range of cultures, religious upbringings and sexual orientations. “He has been immensely helpful for individuals who are trying to reconcile our sexuality with our faith,” said Faisal Alam, a Muslim activist formerly based in Washington, in an interview with the Washington Post. [34] ‘The first time I talked to Imam Daayiee on the phone, I started bawling. I was like, I didn’t know there could be a place like this.’ [35] Laila Ali was raised Muslim, but didn’t feel accepted by Islam, because her beliefs fell outside traditional schools of thought. Then, she heard about Abdullah. “A lot of us started feeling like we only had the choice to either be Muslim in name only and do whatever we want, or leave the religion altogether because there was no place for us,” Ali said. “And the first time I talked to Imam Daayiee on the phone, I started bawling … I was like, I didn’t know there could be a place like this.” [36] Sixty-three percent of the 2.75 million Muslims living in the U.S. are first-generation immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center, many of them coming from countries where same-sex relationships are punishable by law, and in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan, even by death. For its LGBT congregants, the Light of Reform Mosque is a rare safe space. But surprisingly enough it’s not all the worshippers that are actually gay in this mosque. Many are just Muslims looking for a mosque that accepts all kinds. Hanaa Rifaey and her husband Rolly grew up going to local mosques with their families, but they say they didn’t really experience the kind of acceptance the way they do at the Light of Reform. “I think that’s exactly why we’ve wanted to come here,” Rifaey said. “I think it was even more important once we realized that we were starting to have our own family, was that we wanted to have a mosque where our child would feel included and welcome regardless of who he or she had turned out to be.” [37] Imam Daayiee provides other services that are unique for an imam of a Muslim community, like marrying same-sex couples. So far in his 13 years as imam, he has performed more than 50 weddings. “We’re actually out there doing something, making a difference in people’s lives,” he said. [38] While mingling over hors d’oeuvres, they discussed how to change Islam’s future. A woman spoke about fighting terrorism; she had married outside the Islamic faith, which is forbidden for a Muslim woman. A Pakistani man mentioned his plans to meet friends for drinks, despite the faith’s ban on alcohol.[39]

A Raging Debate

muslim-gay-pride  Introducing Daayiee Abdullah: The First Openly Gay Imam in America muslim gay prideNot everyone is happy with the mosque. “Being an openly gay imam and having been identified as such, I do get a lot of feedback and also kickback, but that’s OK,” he said. “I think that when people are unfamiliar with things, they tend to have an emotional knee-jerk reaction to it.” [40] “It has been a hard battle, but a good battle. In the beginning, there was a lot of name calling. I never responded to it because by answering, they have you. Rather, I would always challenge their assumptions and presumptions. I want to show people that the Koran is not two dimensional. It is not just ink on a page. If you only read something in a limited way, you limit your possibilities. [41] Abdullah is firm in his belief that there has never been “one monolithic, isolated” formulation of Islam. “It’s not something that’s new. It’s just like reform and revival within Islam, about every 100, 150 years there have been these discussions and there have been people who have opposed the status quo on these issues,” he said. “So it’s not something that I’m just coming up with as a modern Islamic scholar, but something that has been in existence since time immortal.” [42] Some local imams have refused to greet or talk to him, and many others across the country argue his work performing same-sex marriage is not legitimate, and that he should control his sexual urges. “Anyone who has an inclination that is not acceptable, they have to control themselves,” Muzammil Siddiqi, a well-known imam at California’s Islamic Society of Orange County said earlier this year when asked about Abdullah. “If someone has an inclination to commit adultery or an inclination to drink alcohol or a great desire to eat pork, I would say the same thing: control yourselves.” [43] At the heart of the disagreement is the interpretation of Islam. “If you go to most Muslim scholars, they’re going to tell you that homosexual acts are a sin in Islam; that there’s no way around it,” said Dr. Hussein Rashid, an adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University and contributor to a report on homosexuality in U.S. Muslim communities called the Muslim LGBT Inclusion Project. “I think what we’re seeing now not only in the United States, but worldwide really, is a question of going back to sources and rereading these sources,” Rashid added. “But the tradition was and remains that homosexuality is a sin in Muslim tradition.” [44] The various scholars who contributed to the project’s report emphasized that there is no singular interpretation of homosexuality in Islam. By examining historical approaches in different Muslim cultures, the report challenged the idea that LGBT people are not accepted in Islam. “I think Daayiee is trying to say, ‘Yes, I can be gay and I can be a Muslim, and I can tend to people who are also gay and Muslim,’ that this is part of their identity as a human being and that the religion of Islam teaches people to embrace all aspects of their humanity,” he said. [45]

A Growing Movement of Muslim Queers

queer-muslims2  Introducing Daayiee Abdullah: The First Openly Gay Imam in America queer muslims2Though it is unknown how many American Muslims or Muslims around the world are gay, a growing number are vying to be heard. Several recent films have helped to shed light on LGBT Muslims and their everyday realities. The most well-known, “A Jihad for Love,” spans 12 countries in nine languages to share the stories of LGBT Muslims. The film “I Am Gay and Muslim” tracks several gay Moroccan men as they explore their religious and sexual identities. And the coming independent film “Naz + Maalik” follows two closeted American Muslim teens as they grapple with FBI surveillance. Around the world, new spaces are being carved out. Last year, a gay-friendly mosque opened in Paris – Europe’s first. Muhsin Hendricks, an openly gay imam in Capetown, South Africa, has for years been leading congregants and preaching that homosexuality and Islam are not incompatible. And in America, LGBT Muslims have some strong support. The only Muslims in the House of Representatives, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., have both advocated for gay rights. The group Muslims for Progressive Values, which helped found the Light of Reform Mosque, also has strong presence in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and is growing. And Abdullah has hope that the message he is working to spread will continue to resonate: “It is our relationship with God and our relationship with each other that really establishes our faith.” [46]

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[1] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM; Max Rodriguez, “Imam Daayiee Abdullah ’95, New LGBT-Friendly Mosque to Host Community Forum”, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, October 4, 2011.
[4] Abdullah, Imam Daayiee. “Daayiee’s Place of Inner Peace”.

[5] Washington Imam marries gay Muslim couples despite backlash, Al Arabiya, Thursday, 18 April 2013; Aldin Hadzic, Daayiee Abdullah: America’s first gay imam, Taqwa Magazine, December 23, 2013

[7] Emily Wax, Imam Daayiee Abdullah welcomes gay Muslims to worship, marry,The Washington Post, April 17, 2013; Juliana Lucas, Meet America’s first gay black imam, Voice Online, 24/12/2013 04:00 PM
[8] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”; Pennington, Rosemary. “Daayiee Abdullah: Being out and being Muslim”, Mulim Voices, February 8, 2010
[9] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[10] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[11] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[12] Abdullah, Imam Daayiee. “Daayiee’s Place of Inner Peace”; O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[13] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[14] Aldin Hadzic, Daayiee Abdullah: America’s first gay imam, Taqwa Magazine, December 23, 2013
[15] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[16] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[17] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[18] Hasib Ibradzic, “Gay-Friendly” Mosque?, Taqwa Magazine, September 8, 2013
[19] Juliana Lucas, Meet America’s first gay black imam, Voice Online, 24/12/2013 04:00 PM; Mary Noble, America’s First Openly Gay Imam Performs Same-Sex Marriages, Politix, Dec 22, 2013
[20] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[21] O’Bryan, Will. “A Man for All Seasons”.
[22] Macfarquhar, Neil, “Gay Muslims Find Freedom, of a Sort, in the U.S.”, New York Times, November 7, 2007
[23] Colin. “Library Serves as Reformist Mosque”. Wisconsin Public Radio.
[24] Colin. “Library Serves as Reformist Mosque”. Wisconsin Public Radio.
[25] “MPV-WASHINGTON, DC 2”. Daayieesplaceofinnerpeace.com.
[26] Abdullah, Imam Daayiee. “Daayiee’s Place of Inner Peace”.
[27] Macfarquhar, Neil, “Gay Muslims Find Freedom, of a Sort, in the U.S.”, New York Times, November 7, 2007; Abdullah, Imam Daayiee. “Daayiee’s Place of Inner Peace”.
[28] Emily Wax, Imam Daayiee Abdullah welcomes gay Muslims to worship, marry,The Washington Post, April 17, 2013
[30] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[31] Woman leads US Muslims to prayer, BBC News, Friday, 18 March, 2005, 21:46 GMT
[34] Emily Wax, Imam Daayiee Abdullah welcomes gay Muslims to worship, marry,The Washington Post, April 17, 2013; Washington Imam marries gay Muslim couples despite backlash, Al Arabiya, Thursday, 18 April 2013
[35] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[36] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[37]Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[38] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[40] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[42] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[43] Juliana Lucas, Meet America’s first gay black imam, Voice Online, 24/12/2013 04:00 PM; Mary Noble, America’s First Openly Gay Imam Performs Same-Sex Marriages, Politix, Dec 22, 2013; Jaweed Kaleem, Progressive Muslims Launch Gay-Friendly, Women-Led Mosques In Attempt To Reform American Islam, Huffington Post, 03/29/2012 12:05 pm EDT
[44] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[45] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
[46] Azmat Khan , Meet America’s first openly gay imam, Aljazeera America, 2013 Dec 20 9:10 PM
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Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the french canadian province of Quebec.

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