The story comes from Times of India.
There are 8 openly gay imams in the world: Daayiee Abdullah
African-American Daayiee Abdullah (62) is one of the few publicly gay imams in the world. Born in Detroit to Southern Baptist parents, he converted to Islam at 30. A law graduate, Abdullah is the imam of an LGBT-friendly mosque in Washington DC. He speaks to Aarti Tikoo Singh. Some excerpts:
What was your reaction to the Orlando mass shootings?
I felt a sense of sadness and shock. Being a Black person, when such incidents happen, one hopes that it is not a Black person. Similarly as a Muslim person, one hopes it isn't a Muslim. And when it turned out to be a Muslim, one knew that a certain playbook was going to come out.
Do you think it was a hate crime or terror attack or radical Islamism or mental sickness or gun-control problem?
His father's statement that Omar Mateen was upset by men kissing each other indicate hate. But don't men in Muslim countries kiss each other? I have kissed men in Muslim countries. It is nothing sexual but camaraderie. Muslims have put themselves in a very narrow band and it is falling apart, literally. There is nothing wrong with Quran. The problem is with how people have interpreted it.
Does Islam approve of homosexuality?
It definitely does. There is nothing in the Quran that says anything against it. It does talk about men who have no desire for women and about non-reproducing women. Also in Sura 24, verses 31 and 32, in particular verse 32, it says "marry the unmarried among you" even if they are "among male and female slaves". The Quran does not suggest gender for marriage. During my research in Saudi Arabia, I found positive interpretation on homosexuality in Quran. But the literature coming out from Wahhabist and Salafist schools, puts an incorrect interpretation on it.
Are Wahhabi and Salafist interpretations of Islam a problem in the world today?
Yes, it is a problem. The Gulf and Saudi oil money has helped to promote narrow interpretations of Islam. They want Muslims to go back to a mythological pristine Islam. There is no pristine Islam. It is important to remember how Islam came about in a historical context. Some of the things that were practised then can't necessarily be relevant today. The beauty of Quran is that it says it will meet the needs of humans for all times. So a better, liberal interpretation of Quran for modern times and lives is possible too. As Saudi runs out of oil, they won't be as efficient in their propagation of radical Islam as they have been.
Is West suitable for Islam?
There are several open-minded Islamic scholars in the West who argue that the best setting for Islam and the best way to enjoy Islam's spirit, is a secular society and I tend to agree with them. Some imam in mid 1800s went to Paris and said to have seen Islam but no Muslims and when he went to a Muslim country, he saw no Islam.
Is it difficult to be a gay imam publicly?
If the question is 'do we exist', of course, we do exist. There are 12 gay imams in the world and eight are openly gay. It is not difficult for an individual to be openly a gay imam but it depends on the cultural context. In the West, there is much more acceptance of gay imams or Muslim gays. In the Muslim majority states, a vast majority of them will find it a problem. It is not necessarily a problem with the governments, but it is a problem with their culture.