A young man sporting a coiffed block of dirty-blond hair steps to the microphone. He asks whether Professor Binhazim is still in the room, before fixing his eyes on the man seated in front of him. Of course Awadh Binhazim is still here. He’s a panelist at the Jan. 25, 2010, discussion on Vanderbilt’s campus — an event since watched by tens of thousands of viewers on YouTube.
The young man launches into a question, which he reads from a card:
“Given the recent controversy surrounding homosexuals in the military, under Islamic law, if a homosexual person began to actually engage in homosexual relations in an ongoing and permanent way with no intention of quitting, then the punishment under Islamic law would be death — unless, you know, he agreed to quit. As a practicing Muslim, do you accept or reject this particular teaching of Islam?”
You know where this is going. The camera trains on Binhazim — an olive-skinned man with a polite haircut and trimmed salt-and-pepper beard, wearing a dark suit jacket, dark shirt and tie — for the gotcha moment.
Instead, Binhazim winds into a three-minute, highly nuanced response. The questioner tries to interrupt. He just needs Binhazim, the adjunct Muslim chaplain at Vanderbilt, to say Islam requires him to believe in the killing of gays and lesbians; then he can get out of here.