Daayiee Abdullah, an openly gay imam who grew up in Detroit, is smashing stereotypes with his plans to offer LGBT-friendly classes via his online school for Islamic philosophy. With the help of a $60,000 grant he created the MECCA Institute in 2014, which is both a school and think tank, and plans to offer various courses in modern-day Islamic thinking by Fall 2016.
Abdullah acceptance for those of all sexual orientations was made clear in 2002, when he was asked to conduct a funeral for a man who had died of AIDS. Other imams refused to do it, but his belief that everyone deserves their religious rites meant that officiating it was no problem for him.
Currently based in Washington DC, Abdullah asserts that his views do not contradict Islamic teaching in the Quran. In an interview with Truthout magazine, he said:
"The idea that same-sex-oriented people can't be as faithful or pious as heterosexuals is not something that is found in the Quran [...] It's a cultural attitude, influenced by time and place, which is why ideas about acceptable sexual behavior vary widely."
He advocates for religious acceptance of those with HIV and AIDS, reproductive rights, and acceptance of LGBT muslims. He even conducts same-sex marriage ceremonies for Muslim couples and offers marriage counseling to homosexual and heterosexual couples alike.
During the interview, he expressed his desire to have 100 imams trained in an inclusive Muslim ideology in the next five years.
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