daayiee abdullahAn imam is a leadership position within the Islamic faith. It is most commonly found in the context of a leader of worship in a mosque. Imam may also be used in the form of a title for renowned Muslim scholars. Meet America’s first openly gay Imam Daayiee Abdullah.

He’s been condemned by other Muslim leaders, and some local imams have even refused to greet him; however Imam Daayiee Abdullah – believed to be the only openly gay imam in the Americas – is proud of his story.

He was born and raised in Detroit, where his parents were Southern Baptists. At age 15, he came out to them. At 33, while studying in China, Abdullah converted to Islam, and went on to study the religion in Egypt, Jordan and Syria. But as a gay man in America, he saw that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims had unmet spiritual needs and he became an imam to provide community support.

“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.

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. Read the full article featured at Aljazeera America here.

Daayiee Abdullah Talks About His First Love

In the brief candid and honest interview below, Daayiee Abdullah talks about his first same gender loving relationship.