WHY I DO ?
It is always said, the journey begins with the first step. As I had my “iqraa” moment while seated at the Cow Street Mosque in Beijing, Chinain the early 1980s, I transformed from a non-Muslim into the Islamic community of believers, which happen to be ethnic Uighers classmates. Allah provided me an unique edge upon which to balance: imagine my first Quran to study was in Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, one that I still have today, and I hadn’t begun to study Arabic yet. I had been blessed having had many experiences both in the West and Far East, as well as several years in the Middle East, and traveling to many Muslim states, helped to shape my deeper understanding of Islam as a faith and culture.
Provided the opportunities to live with Muslims from all over the world, I noted how often a person’s culture would heavily influence how they responded to different cultures. As examples, whether it be Southeast Asians in the Middle East, or Black Americans in China, or Arabs in the West, how each culture modeled “Islam” was always an adjustment for each person from another culture. These experiences impressed me to understand that Islam is not monolithic, as often presented to non-Muslims, but actually quite mutable. Allah demonstrates great diversity throughout creation, yet the question remains, do we recognize it?
Prior to this epiphany, I had falsely believed Muslims would have better relationships amongst themselves—those thoughts were dashed shortly after my first time in the Middle East. It was during one of my discussions with one of my Muslim professors in Cairo, and that was when I began to more clearly understand Islam for myself. He said, “Do not judge Islam by the actions of Muslims.” I had to ponder that statement for a while, and luckily it hit me one day walking home for class. A better Muslim Ummah would not come from the efforts of Muslims to Muslims to build a better community. A better community would come from my building a better relationship with my Creator to become a better person, and my Creator would then use me to build the better community. Since that time, I continuously strive for the better me, and encourage the same amongst my contemporaries, by letting our Creator guide each of us in educating Muslims worldwide as to what a better Muslim community entails—the current model is just not working.
Fast-forwarding through 16 years of learning about Islam in various parts of the globe, it has been the past 12 years that has proffered me four areas in which I have participated–with the help of many other seekers on the path to transformation—those being Muslim women’s rights, GLBTQ Muslims and sexual minorities, the Progressive Muslim movement, and developing an inclusive, gender-equal, queer friendly, intrafaith and interfaith sacred prayer space. It has been through these wide swathes of believers, all with diverse human personalities, it has been through them I have had the opportunity to counsel Muslims of all ages, gender identifications, sexual orientations, diverse Muslim orientations and geographic locales.
Whether I am responding to young adults, Muslim women, GLBTQ Muslims, or my intrafaith activities among Muslims, or People of the Book through interfaith–collectively we see that everyone seeks greater clarity in how the Quranic message was and is being understood–and most importantly, to experience how it can be lived more fully. My experiences confirm that there are Muslims, including partners and families, across these varied combinations of factors, that need scholastic and spiritual support in their quest to find understanding within their Muslim communities. To do so, it always begins with me and you and others of the Islamic faith.
One of my goals on this site is to assist my clients find their higher threshold in their Islamic beliefs, to work through their disharmony and discomfort in their daily lives, and to ultimately locate their place of inner peace-both within themselves and their Muslim community—the goal of better believers living a better community here on earth.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?
Imam Daayiee lives in the capital of the United States, Washington, DC.
Imam Daayiee frequently lectures on progressive Muslim thought, women’s rights, human rights for queer and other sexual minorities in Islam. He speaks at colleges and universities, as well as religious, political and governmental organizations. His speaking engagements take him around the United States and around the world.