Born in the old mahalla in Skopje, Abdi became one of the first Roma, in former Yugoslavia, to attend university and was one of the founders of Phralipe, in 1948. Although a cultural association, it worked covertly for Roma civil rights.
He was an Member of Parliament in the Macedonian Parliament, from 1969 to 1974 and attended the First World Romani Congress in 1971, as an official Yugoslav representative. He fell out with the Yugoslavian government and was deprived of his passport, to prevent him going to international meetings.
He later formed the Roma Emancipation Party and returned to Parliament after 1989 but lost his seat in 1998. One of the earliest Roma parliamentarians in Europe, he was widely respected even by his opponents.