Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Studying with the Scholars

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Studying with the Scholars

Article excerpt

Zaytuna College offers a collegiate experience unlike any other in the U.S.

FAATIMAH KNIGHT MADE THE TRIP from her hometown of Brooklyn, N. Y., to Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif., eager to learn from Islamic scholars Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir - whom she had admired since her early teens - and to be a part of the colleges first class.

"I was looking for an education that would not only stimulate my mind, but also my spirit and my heart and I was confident that I would find that at Zaytuna," says Knight, a sophomore studying Islamic law and theology at Zaytuna. "I definitely feel like I've gotten more than what I could've anticipated in terms of how nurturing the experience is and about how holistic it is."

Zaytuna, which opened its doors in 2009, is a liberal arts college that offers bachelor s degrees in Islamic law and theology, and Arabic language. Founded by current fulltime faculty members Shakir, Yusuf and Hatem Bazian, the college is on the path to becoming the first accredited Muslim college in the U.S. It offers its students a curriculum in Islamic studies and Arabic, as well as in the humanities and social sciences.

"It's a great blend of your classical Islamic traditions and today's modern liberal arts education," says Sumaira Akhtar, the college's academics program manager. "The classes are taught in a really unique way; it's kind of bringing the best of both worlds together."

Akhtar says that there is a growing interest in the college; in fact, admission applications have doubled since the first year.

Zaytuna's admission process is a competitive one and similar to other colleges, and includes an application, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores. The college requires that incoming students have the equivalent of at least one-year of college-level Arabic, which can also be attained at Zaytuna's eightweek Summer Arabic Intensive program. …

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