In part one of this column I introduced the genesis of the debate which occurred in Fort Myers, Florida on April 5, 2008 between Imam Mohammed Al-Darsani of the Islamic Center for Peace and me. Even more instructive than looking at the uniqueness of the debate is to actually begin to dissect the revealing anatomy of the discourse which occurred at Edison College between us a few weeks ago.
Imam Al-Darsani's Islamist apologetics in response to direct intellectual challenge from a fellow devout Muslim revealed a great deal to all those present about the fact that the real battle lines in this global conflict are within the Islamic community and over the boundaries and clarity of morality. Our disagreements were far more fundamental to human nature than simple disagreements over specific Islamic theology or practices. Our disagreements, in fact, boiled down to a fundamental difference in moral consistency, moral clarity, and moral courage.
Mr. Al-Darsani gave blatant apologies for terrorism and dismissed the Islamist ideology which feeds it. I continued to press him on the need for Muslims to globally resonate a universal moral consistency and unmistakable clarity in countering every individual and organization which excuses any act of terror against noncombatants. He responded with avoidance, denial, and obfuscation. What it boiled down to was, at best, moral weakness; at worst, corruption.
From excusing acts of terror to defending the theocratic Islamic state, Mr. al-Darsani was unwilling to recognize the theological work which needs to be done by modernists in the Muslim community. Arguments thus far relegated to "Muslim vs. non-Muslim" debates, due to Islamist activists' tendency to evade responsibility and ownership of the problem in the public square, were finally debated from a position deep within a Muslim consciousness.