Vanderbilt University’s Muslim Students Association (VMSA) says that its “main purpose” is “to enlighten and broaden people’s knowledge of Islam, while at the same time promoting an environment at Vanderbilt that brings together people of every culture and religion.” The organization sponsors numerous activities such as “lectures and gatherings for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
In January 2010, VMSA hosted a panel discussion titled “Common Ground: Being Muslim in the Military.” One of the panelists was an adjunct professor of Islam at Vanderbilt’s Divinity School, Awadh A. Binhazim, who also served as the chaplain for Muslim students at the university. During the question-and-answer session of the presentation, a student asked Binhazim: “Under Islamic law is it punishable by death if you are homosexual?” Binhazim replied that that was in fact “what Islam teaches.” (Click here for video of the exchange between Binhazim and the student.)
VMSA has participated numerous times — along with more than 250 fellow Muslim organizations (mostly chapters of the MSA) — in an annual “Ramadan Fast-a-Thon,” where students eat nothing from sunrise to sundown on one designated day each year. The purpose of this event — which was initiated shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — is twofold: to “raise money for the hungry and poor,” and to help Americans “increase” their “understanding” of Muslims’ good intentions. Such notables as Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Sheikh Abdullah Idris Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf have endorsed the Fast-a-Thon.