He’s black. And he’s Muslim. Think that’s not hard enough? He’s gay. Think that’s still not hard enough? He’s an Imam. And he loves life.
Think you have challenges in your life? What do you think the challenges are for a gay, black, Muslim who is the United States’ first openly gay Imam?
Well, Imam Daayiee Abdullah is all those things. Plus you can add one more thing to his description: He’s truly one of the most optimistic people you will meet—and for good reason.
“When I graduated from high school, I hoped that one day gay Americans would be able to get married. And now here I am 45 years later officiating same-sex marriages—how can I not be optimistic that the future is bright?” explained the 61-year-old Abdullah, who lives in Washington, D.C.
Abdullah has been fighting for civil rights all his life. First, for African Americans. Then for gay rights beginning in the 1970s. And since the 1990s, he has been on the front lines advocating for LGBT Muslims in America.
Yes, I know for some the idea that there is a gay Imam is astounding. I’m sure many are asking: Aren’t Muslims supposed to kill gays?
We do see gays killed by ISIS, and there are five Muslim majority countries (out of more than 50) that have a statutory death penalty for homosexuals: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.
But what I would imagine only a few non-Muslims know—and ISIS and others like them could care less— is that there is absolutely no mention in the Koran about punishing gays, let alone killing them.
As Imam Abdullah explained on my weekly SiriusXM radio show on Saturday, “Nowhere in the Quran does it say punish homosexuals. And historians have also never found any case of the Prophet Muhammad dealing with homosexuality.”
To his point, there are at least eight Muslim countries that do not criminalize a gay lifestyle on a national level including Indonesia (the world’s most populous Muslim country,) Jordan, Turkey, Bahrain, and Albania. Keep in mind Jordan is governed by King Abdullah, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, so if the tenets of Islam truly called for gays to be punished, that law would surely be in place there. (Most Muslim majority countries still have criminal penalties on the books that call for imprisoning gays, but the degree to which these laws are currently enforced varies greatly.)