Islamic College in America

zaytuna-collegeWhen choosing the right college to attend, not many people think of an Islamic college. That’s about to change. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, two prominent Muslim scholars, are planning to create the first accredited Islamic college in the United States, to be called Zaytuna College. The goal of the college is to teach Arabic and Islamic studies in the context of American culture. The founders argue that the Muslim American community is in need of scholars who not only are familiar with American culture, but actually come out of it and thus will be much more in tune with the needs of the community.

The seeds of the college were already in the works with Zaytuna Institute, an educational nonprofit organization started by Yusuf in 1996. The institute offers classes on Islamic studies and this past summer offered an immersion Arabic program that drew Muslim and non-Muslim students from all over the United States. Yusuf and Shakir (who joined the institute in 2003) argue that the time has come to have an institution that establishes a place for Islam and religion in general on the American landscape.

Zaytuna College, which will encourage interfaith understanding by opening its doors to anyone regardless of religion, faces a number of obstacles, the most critical of which is raising enough money. Beyond the current world economic crisis and the challenges of college fundraising in general, the US government crackdown on some Muslim organizations has made many Muslims wary of donating money. Yusuf and Shakir seek accreditation for the college, a process that will require examining the college funds. They believe that this process will alleviate the fears of Muslims and show the non-Muslim community the true intent of the college.

For many Muslims, an accredited Islamic college is the next step for the Muslim American community because education and intellectual pursuit are necessary to dispel stereotypes and build bridges.

What do you think of religious colleges? Do they create more tolerance or not? Would you consider attending an Islamic college? Why or why not? Should all religious groups have this option? Please leave your comments.

13 thoughts on “Islamic College in America

  1. Alhamdulillah – what a wonderful thing for the US and our Muslim youth! I attended a private Catholic college and have been thinking for some time how great it would be to have an Islamic college here in the States. Of course, there will be a lot of growing pains associated with the funding, curriculum, balance between Islamic ideals and modern American thinking, etc but at least it will be a start. May Allah bless this college and especially all of the students!

  2. salam aleikum
    it would be really nice to have a good Islamic University teaching proper Islam ,according to Quran and Sunnah ..

    I don’t agree with Zaytuna institute ,because its founder Shaikh Hamza Yusuf is know for his sufi teachings.

    waaleikum salam

  3. In reply to Anastasia, I’ve been listening to lectures by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf for a couple of months now and I have not ever noticed his teachings or opinions to be more ‘Sufi.’ In fact, one radio broadcast I listened to led me to believe he identifies as a Sunni. I myself am Shi’a, but that does not stop from listening to Sheikh Hamza because I think he is a very knowledgable man who can do a lot for Muslims in the U.S.

  4. i’m really very much impressed when read that some scholars in the United States are about to build an I slamic University which will serve as channel for spreding through Islamic faith and life base on the Holy Qur’aan and the Sunnah(Ahadith) of the Holy Prophet(pbh).
    May the Almighty ALLAH bless them and help them in fullfeeeling this goals.Ameen.

  5. i’m really very much impressed when read that some scholars in the United States are about to build an I slamic University which will serve as channel for spreding through Islamic faith and life base on the Holy Qur’aan and the Sunnah(Ahadith) of the Holy Prophet(pbh).
    May the Almighty ALLAH bless them and help them in fullfeeeling this goals.Ameen.
    My Phone number:00233-20716116/ 00233-266306992

  6. Praise be to Allah the Compassionate All-Knowing,

    May America be blessed with the light of Divine Unity and the wisdom of the Divine Messengers, whose delusion-dispelling teachings only the truly guided scholars and gnostics are rightful heirs to. May Allah bless His virtuous servants everywhere in all things good and bestow His justice and happiness to every soul in their spiritual quests and human fraternities.

    May Allah shower His blessings upon him who was first to be created out of His eternal light and knowledge – Muhammad – as profusely as the eye-blinks and the breaths of every living being in the universe. Amin.

  7. Salam Alaikum,

    I don’t believe that Zaytuna College is the first muslim college in the US. We in Minnesota have the Islamic University of Minnesota, a very qualified university with many qualified shuyookh such as Sheikh Waleed Al-Menesi Phd, here is his bio with his references and books written and all his positions.

    http://daralfarooq.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90%3A2009-10-21-07-48-05&catid=50%3Ageneral-info&Itemid=28

    and others such as Sheikh. Farok Hamod Asamarai, PhD.

    The I.U.M.N has bachelor, master, and phd level degrees. It also has an Ijaza program in Quran. The Sheikh, Sheikh Waleed Al-menesi has learnt all 20 modes of reading.

    I do agree with what Anastasia has said as Hamza Yusuf is sort of shady.

    Here is the university website for those who want it:

    http://iumn.net/English/E_Home.aspx

    I guarantee you that they teach with the proper sunnah and everything.

    Walaikum Salam Warahmatullah Wabarakatuhu

  8. Salam
    I am presently in the US and would like to study Arabic and Quran and shari’ ah after my bachelors degree. I would like to have information about your college pertaing to the courses I have mentioned.

  9. ALHAMDULILAH IT FINALY HAPPENED………………but my question is how soon will this college begin to properly function?………. the thing is am graduating within 6 months and all i want 2 do is find a good college for a young muslim lady…………. !!!!!!

  10. Allah the greatest. I am really feeling very happy in knowing this college construction. I am a Sri Lankan and have a same type of a thirst to do a same Institution in Sri Lanka. I feel 2011 is a very suitable time to do this but I have some hurdles in progressing this… May Allah help you brothers in Islam to start it and let us pray – mightiest Allah to help us bringing that to Sri lanka… If you anyone has an interest to discuss of this with me – I would happily welcome your call or email on +94 78 38 56 840 or challengefuture@aim.com.
    ALLAH AKBAR…

  11. People, when will this college start teaching because im doing hifz and im a freshman rite now and my plan is to become a sheikh…Inshallah

  12. I am currently looking for a way to learn Arabic and the Qur’an, and I wonder if they teach tajweed.
    The Qur’an has the power to free humanity.