CAPETOWN, South Africa – Muhsin Hendrick is not your typical imam. The 46-year-old South African is also openly gay, and he preaches that gay Muslims can believe in the Koran and Islam without fear of condemnation.
He recently spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which conducted a question-and-answer session titled Islam can be reconciled with homosexuality - S.African gay imam.
Hendrick founded The Inner Circle in 2004, where he spreads the message that Islam is not anti-gay. Here are some quotes from the Q&A:
"The best thing was to just come out and be authentic - even if it means the world is going to kill you, but at least you die an authentic person.”
“The Koran only speaks about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Koran doesn't use the word homosexuality. It's only a term that was coined in the 18th century, and the Koran was a 7th century book. The story has been interpreted for years to refer to the atrocities of Sodom and Gomorrah as homosexuality so what I do is I unpack it. One of the principles that we learn when we study the Koran is that you can't quote a verse from the Koran out of context. It has a context, it has a history, there's a real particular purpose. So, I say, 'Let's do the same with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.’ We look at the archaeological findings, we look at what historians say about Sodom and Gomorrah, and once we piece that together we find that the story was really about economic exploitation, inhospitality to guests, rape, molestation, homosexual practices that were related to idolatry. So then I ask in my conclusion, 'If you look at that and if you look at who you are in terms of your sexual orientation, do you think that story talks about you?'”
Hendrick is also interviewed by Rowland Jide Macaulay, the openly gay pastor of House of Rainbow Fellowship, in a video posted on YouTube. Hendrick talks about his faith, and the two religious leaders find out that they have many things in common, including being men of color and natives of Africa.
“There is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel,” the imam tells Macaulay in the video.
“You can be queer and you can be Muslim,” Macaulay says.
The two men met at the Inner Circle Annual International Retreat 2009.