"Being an openly gay imam and having been identified as such, I do get a lot of feedback and also kickback, but that's OK,” he said. “I think that when people are unfamiliar with things, they tend to have an emotional knee-jerk reaction to it. Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. And because of the necessity in our community, that's why I came into this particular role."
Abdulah, who says he told his parents he was gay at age 15, converted to Islam at the age of 33 and went on to study the religion in Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Asked what was his first spiritual act as an Imam, Abdulahi says it was the funeral for a gay Muslim who had died of AIDS.
"They had contacted a number of imams, and no one would go and provide him his janazah services. This pained me. 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. The beautiful thing about God is that when you change your attitude, and say, 'God, I need some help,' and mean it sincerely, God is always there for you,”
Abdullah serves as the imam and educational director of the Light of Reform Mosque in Washington, D.C, a place he calls a a rare safe space for Muslim LGBT. In his Mosque, which he founded in 2011, women and men kneel side-by-side and women are allowed to lead prayers, an action that has sparked controversy in the Muslim world.