KaledioScot interviews one of the few openly gay Imams, Daayiee Abdullah, who explains that it was probably Omar Mateen’s troubled self-loathing that motivated him to commit the atrocity, not Islam.
The interview, led by KaleidoScot’s editor, Dan Littauer, starts with the imam talking about the impact the massacre has and his solidarity and message of peace and against violence regarding the Orlando Massacre.
Watch the interview here:
Abdullah additionally raises the potential for Mateen being a closet gay man, as well as the wider consideration of his personality and mental health issues. His views are also backed by recent evidence that showed Mateen frequented the Pulse club, used gay dating apps, and was even known to be gay by some members of the community. It seems that Mateen tried to justify his self-loathing in a vague understanding of Islam rather than the latter motivating his acting out. It is therefore homophobia, prejudice and even violence that can lead to self hate and consequently such actions as opposed to linking Islam as a root cause.
For the imam it isn’t Islam that’s the problem – that’s not to say he believes that versions of it have not contributed. In discussing Omar’s difficulties, he points to how particular expressions of Islam force people to reject who they are and imposes upon them expectations that are destructive (he mentions, for example, forced marriage). He emphasises the mental health problems that Omar may have had.
When he says it’s not “Islam” he means that Islam is broad and contains many interpretations, from progressives through to fundamentalist ISIL types. He’s basically saying that Islam is bigger than the fundamentalists, and that they have no monopoly on a faith that he shares. For him, it’s not Islamic to discriminate against LGBTI+ people…that’s a particular understanding of Islam that he’s opposed to.
The imam critically assesses the media, political and public general perception of Islam as the root cause of the incident. He also draws attention to the use of Islam as a political football and the fear that is intentionally cultivated by equating that faith with the shooting and terrorism.
Abdullah also clarifies the context and relationship of Islam with homosexuality, both historical and cultural, as much more nuanced than is portrayed by the main stream media. He makes it clear that “there is no position in the Qu’ran on same-sex desire” and challenges the widely held view of Islam as a single rigid belief system.
The imam also takes us on a quick historical tour through the development of islamic theology and social attitudes with regards to same-gender desire.
He also notes how the media and politicians deliberately obfuscates this in order to distract the public into hating a “monolithic Islam” which leads to further ostracising and violence.
Abdullah finishes on a note how Ramadan can enrich LGBTI people: “sharing their full selves (as they are) in their religious practices” – is a progressive message of love and hope that would find resonance in many other progressive people of faith.