Gay-Muslim Rights: Ushering in a new golden age of Islam?

By Quddous Ahmed


61-year-old Abdullah, who lives in Washington, D.C. has been fighting for civil rights all his life. First, for African Americans. Then for gay rights beginning in the 1970’s, and since the 1990’s, he has been on the front lines advocating for LGBT Muslims in America.


Source: Jonathan Alpeyrie/Polaris, via Newscom

Imam Abdullah on Dean Obeidallah’s weekly SiriusXM radio show last Saturday explained “Nowhere in the Quran does it say punish homosexuals. And historians have also never found any case of the Prophet Muhammad dealing with homosexuality.”

Most Muslims can’t see a discussion of sexuality in the Holy Quran. Why, then, do some punish or kill homoesexuals under the guise of Islam? Why do, IS for example, openly kill homosexuals? Abdullah explained that “it’s based on culture, mythology, and pre-Islamic laws, with the goal being power and control over people.” And when he says pre-Islamic rules, we are talking laws based on Bible passages such as in Leviticus, where it states that if men engage in homosexual acts, they are to be put to death.”

In response to those who don’t believe a gay person should be a religious leader, Abdullah responded, “Some don’t believe that homosexuals can be pious. But we can be just as good at our faith as anyone else. We are simply different from other folks, not less committed to our faith.”

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, Turkey, Bahrain, and Albania are among the countries that do not criminalize a gay lifestyle on a national level. Jordan, which is governed by King Abdullah, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad does not criminalise homosexuality. Therefore, if the tenets of Islam truly called for gays to be punished, that law would surely be in place in Jordan.

But being gay in American poses challenges apart from intra-Muslim community concerns. We see some conservative Christians who oppose marriage equality and want to deny service to gays simply because of their sexual orientation.

“Some people are uncomfortable with gays,” Abdullah acknowledged. “But your discomfort with my sexuality should not translate into me having less rights as an American.”

Abdullah’s next project is an online school he intends to launch this fall called the Mecca Institute. His hope is that the school will be a vehicle to connect Muslims and non-Muslims alike to have discussion about Islam that’s both open and honest. Abdullah explained that his inspiration for this project was the “golden age of Islam,” which dated from the 7th century to 13th century and was marked by, among other things, scholars of different faiths sharing ideas, which in turn become an intellectual linchpin of science, philosophy, education, etc.

With this new golden age of Islam on the horizon, we ask your opinion. What do you think of homosexuality in Islam? Are you or do you know anyone who is Muslim and gay? What struggles are faced and why do you think they do?

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