D Gregory Smith

The "Gay Imam"

Filed By D Gregory Smith | March 07, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay imam, Islam, LGBT, Muhsin Hendricks, Muslims, pink imam, Religion, South Africa, Surprise!, The Netherlands

I get a lot of emails from friends who know that I love to read all sorts of things, but don't have a lot of time to search for it myself. One of my friends looks at websites from the Netherlands and sends me items. From Radio Netherlands Worldwide came a little gem entitled "Gay Imam Says Homosexuality Not Sinful".gayimam.jpg

"Huh? Really?"

I've spent a fair amount of time in Christian circles, where being gay is often feared, celebrated, and derided, but in some cases is simply no big deal. I'm used to it - Christian tradition seems built for such a struggle. But Islam?

I was eager to learn more.

It seems South African Imam Muhsin Hendricks is a gay man who runs a foundation called the Inner Circle which helps Muslims struggling with their sexuality and their religion. He has openly proclaimed "It is okay to be Muslim and gay!" From the article:

It's a message not everyone agrees with and the reason why Mr Hendricks is no longer officially a cleric.

Muhsin Hendricks looks a little tired. He is in the Netherlands at the invitation of the Amsterdam branch of gay rights organisation COC and he's on a punishing schedule. There is enormous public interest in the "pink imam", as he's been dubbed.

But every trace of fatigue vanishes as Mushin Hendricks talks about his faith and his sexuality.

"Being Muslim and being gay are both strong identities. And I think that they are both innate identities for me. So somewhere along the line I had to reconcile the two."

This was far from easy for Muhsin Hendricks. He was born into an orthodox Muslim family in South Africa. His grandfather was a cleric in one of Cape Town's most prominent mosques. Mushin discovered at an early age that he was different. He played with dolls rather than cars. He was seen as being feminine and was teased as a result. All this was long before he even knew there was such a thing as homosexuality.

Mushin Hendricks took comfort in his faith, in spite of the fact that many Muslims believe it offers no place to homosexual feelings. Sexual love between two men or two women is prohibited. It is seen as one of the worst possible sins, punishable in some Islamic countries by death.

It's a story familiar to anyone with conflicts around faith and identity. It's also an opportunity to learn more about the experience of our Muslim brothers and sisters- and maybe another reason to celebrate the shared humanity of the struggle for dignity and integrity

Read the full story here.

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Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | March 7, 2011 4:32 PM

Great post Greg!

LGBT Jews, Christians, Muslins and atheists should reach out to Imam Muhsin Hendricks and thank him for his courage. Any religious belief that denies the veracity of science and the scientific method must be called to task by all of us.

All organized religions that refuse to recognize LGBT birthrights and subsequently preach discrimination against LGBT people invalidate the religion they profess!

Any organized religion that denies all variations of sexual orientation and/or gender identity as normal automatically invalidate that organized religion. All political leaders who use religious belief as an excuse to refuse to completely accept all LGBT as normal practice a form of religious fascism. The leading religious fascists in the U.S. are Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin, Virginia Fox, Jim Demint, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. They incite hatred daily by bullying us. All of them used their warped idea of Christianity as their excuse.


great resource for South Africa!

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | March 7, 2011 7:58 PM

Brave? Imam Muhsin Hendricks is heroic!

Pam Daniels Pam Daniels | March 7, 2011 7:59 PM

Brave? Imam Muhsin Hendricks is heroic!

Did you ever notice that the first religious leaders to stand up and say "Gay is OK" are almost always gay themselves? God, how I long for a time when the straight people are the first to say, "This is entirely fucked up for our brothers and sisters and we shouldn't stand for it."

Imam Hendricks is featured in the documentary about gays and Islam called, "A Jihad for Love."


It was co-produced by Sandi Dubowski who made the doc about gays and Jews, particularly the Orthodox, "Trembling Before G-d." While as factually fascinating as the first film, I felt the second one suffered from the absence of Dubowski on camera. His personality somehow brought some light of Hope to the darkness of the first film that was missing, for me, in the second [and TOTALLY missing from the Israeli dramatic film, "Eyes Wide Open, that's so depressing it should come with a razor blade].

Still, "Jihad," like "Trembling," is a must-rent DVD for anyone interested in seeing the real lives of some gay and lesbian Muslims. In addition to the uniqueness of Hendricks, I was amazed to learn that there's a kind of underground railroad from homohating Islamic countries like Iran to more tolerant countries like Turkey and the West.

Scenes/trailers for all three can be found on YouTube.