First US Muslim College aims to stand against Islamophobia

SHAFAQNA – Zaytuna College who became the first officially recognized Islamic College in the United States after receiving formal academic initial accreditation last week aims to educate future leaders to challenge the structured Islamophobia faced by Muslims, Anadolu agency reported Wednesday. Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, which is founded by Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir and Hatem Bazian, has no intention of becoming an educational institution where Islam or Muslims are classified as good or bad, but it wants to have a deeper critique of societal structures to understand Muslims and Islam.
“We will graduate future leaders who are able to embody Islam in their own life and with their actions while they have all the needed skills to counter the structured Islamophobia deployed against Muslims in America and around the globe,” said the school’s co-founder Bazian, who also teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zaytuna College adapts the meaning of adab from contemporary Muslim philosopher Naquib al-Attas, who said, “The fundamental element inherent in the concept of education in Islam is the inculcation of adab.” Instructors begin their classes with a du’a, or prayer, and try to foster an environment where adab is present before, during and after the lesson, said Bazian.
“We have a major responsibility to transform the world into something better and in it we have to be ready to critique ourselves first and foremost and the world that is around us, but doing so in a constructive manner so it leads to building rather than further destruction,” he added.
The college intends to teach Islam with sophistication and the highest moral and ethical values. It offers courses in Islamic law and theology but also provides studies in economics, the U.S. Constitution, science, comparative religion, history and astronomy.
“We believe that Islam calls us to knowledge, learning and understanding which are the opposite of ignorance and narrow mindedness that produces violence and terrorism,” said the Berkeley academic.

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