Gay Muslim man doesn’t feel welcome in mosque after sheikh forbids ‘lifestyle’

Muslims gather to perform Eid Al-Adha prayer at Belfast Islamic centre in Belfast, Ireland on July 20.

A gay Muslim has said he has nowhere to pray after a sheikh of his mosque condemned his “lifestyle”.

Yusuf Murray – a longtime practising Muslim in Dublin – had attended the Islamic Centre of Ireland in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, for several years but felt “no longer welcome” after coming out as gay.

Murray says he left the Irish Muslim Council after finding himself without anywhere to pray for fear of judgement, telling the Irish Mirror he’s now questioning whether he’s welcome among Irish Muslims at all.

“I don’t want to lose my faith,” he said. “I’ve been brought up as a Muslim but I feel the faith community wants me to suppress it and I just don’t understand that.”

Prominent sheikh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, who leads the mosque, said in a speech he believed homosexuality to be contradictory to the Quran.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri from Blanchardstown mosque, who led the Eid prayers, during the celebration of Eid Al-Adha at Croke Park in Dublin.

Dr Umar Al-Qadri from Blanchardstown mosque, who led the Eid prayers, during the celebration of Eid Al-Adha at Croke Park in Dublin. (Ray McManus/ Getty)

“You cannot force me to believe that this lifestyle is right,” he said. “In my view, according to Islam, this lifestyle, it contradicts the Quran.

“You like somebody from the same gender? Maybe that’s natural, but Islam, it strictly forbids from engaging in physical sexual activity with the same gender. Simple as that,” Al-Qadri continued.

Murray has said this speech is what caused him to question his place in the community, saying: “Now that he has taken this stance. Where am I meant to go and pray now?”

“I don’t believe I’m welcome anymore,” Murray continued.

Al-Qadri responded in an interview with the Irish Mirror, saying he is “not homophobic” and that Murray is still welcome at the centre, adding: “The house of God doesn’t close to his creation.”

Murray also reportedly released a screenshot of messages from a WhatsApp group chat where a member of the Muslim community reportedly responded to a CNN article detailing how monkeypox was on the rise in the gay community.

“But they plan and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners,” the user reportedly said. “This should be an eye opener to those who spread campaigns that go against nature.”

In response, Al-Qadri told reporters the message had been taken out of context and that members were merely saying Muslims had learned from the “wisdom” of God to avoid same-sex relationships.

“In our faith we are not allowed to have sexual engagements of this kind and there is a wisdom behind it and one of the reasons [has] now been clarified,” he said.

But, as Murray stated, if the sheikh were to look at the evidence, he would see the disease is not exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.

“It doesn’t seem very compassionate from a faith leader to me,” he said. “I would urge him to put this right with an unconditional apology and a commitment to meaningfully engage with LGBT people to fully understand the hurt his comments have caused.

“It’s imperative that the Muslim community is cherished and accommodated, but also learns to cherish and accommodate all other communities too,” Murray continued.

Despite Al-Qadri’s constant reiteration that LGBTQ+ identities are strictly contradictory to Islam, a mosque in Germany seemingly disagrees after being the first to wave a Pride flag, during Pride month this year.

The Ibn Rush-Goethe Mosque displayed the flag on 1 July with an emblem that read “love is halal” attached to the front, telling audience members who came to watch the flag being raised that no one should have to “choose between their faith and their sexual identity”.

One of the mosque’s six imams, Mo el-Ketab, told Deutsche Welle the mosque would serve as a “safe place for people who are different, so they too can experience the spiritual side of their lives”. Adding: “I hope that many other mosques will also show the flag in this way or set other positive signs for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Berlin Pride board member Marc Eric-Lehmann said the display was an “incredibly strong sign” for the progression of LGBTQ+ rights.

“Queer people can also be religious and believe in God,” he said. “We should not just be talking about safe spaces in bars and clubs in Berlin, we also have to talk about safe spaces in the places of worship.”