01 February 2010

"Never Rooted in a Particular Land..."

A pretty significant event is happening in this country.  No, I'm not talking about the political landscape and it's potential shift in the upcoming Congressional and Senatorial elections; nor am I talking about the pending economic irreconcilable situtaion  based on main-stream tv and POTUS telling us the economy is great while experts warn of a pending catastrophe.  
I am speaking of the opening of America's first Muslim University.  It is inviting it's freshman class to enroll now.

"America’s first Muslim college
is seeking students for its first freshman class.
Will you be one of them?"

"God willing, a Zaytuna College education will prepare students for a meaningful life as compassionate, productive, and educated citizens of the global community who understand Islam as a living, viable, and relevant faith, and who represent that faith with dignity, wisdom, and honor."
"The four years that an undergraduate student typically spends at Zaytuna College will be, God willing, an enriching and rewarding experience inside—and outside—the classroom."  

Why Zaytuna College?

Islam has never become rooted in a particular land until that land began producing its own religious scholars. There are several million Muslims in the United States and rapidly growing Muslim populations in Canada, Great Britain, and Western Europe. Yet, there are no accredited academic institutions capable of training students in the varied sciences of Islam, while also instilling in them a sophisticated understanding of the intellectual history and culture of the West. Clearly, there is an essential need for Muslim institutions that can wed Islam’s classical texts with the contemporary context.
This reality has led to two lamentable situations. First, there are very few Muslim scholars who can meet the religious and pastoral needs of a rapidly expanding Muslim community in the West. Second, much of our younger generation has become alienated from the mosque and from religious culture.
“[Zaytuna] is far and away the single most influential institution that's shaping American Muslim thought. On the one hand they speak so much about being American. On the other hand, they have also plugged these American Muslim students into the global Muslim curriculum, that has all the rigor of traditional Islamic scholarship.”
Dr. Omid Safi
Professor, University of North Carolina

College Life

Zaytuna College is located in historic Berkeley, California, a center for American intellectual and spiritual life. Students admitted to Zaytuna College can not only take advantage of the many benefits of living in Berkeley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area—such as the long tradition of political and social justice activism, the abundant cultural attractions of Berkeley and nearby San Francisco, and the proximity to Northern California’s breathtaking coastline and lush state parks—but they will also become members of one of the most dynamic Muslim communities in America.

Groups such as the SF Muslims, a collection of Muslim professionals and activists organized by an online list-serve, are committed to being part of a forward-thinking Muslim community that participates in American civic and cultural life. The Muslim Student Associations at the many Bay Area universities are among the most active in America. Students at Zaytuna College will have ample opportunity to take part in the valuable work of the Bay Area’s many civic-minded Muslim organizations.

Zaytuna in the San Francisco Bay Area

Zaytuna itself has built a national reputation as a focal point of Muslim intellectual activity through its public events and conferences. Zaytuna is known for organizing stimulating public events that engage the Muslim community with serious Western intellectuals and activists outside of Islam who are having an impact. These events carry forward the organization’s vision of exposing people of other faiths and beliefs to Islam’s progressive intellectual tradition and to share with Muslims the important and relevant work others are doing. Zaytuna also organizes major events in the community during religious occasions, such as Eid, and other significant dates. Its scholars, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, can often be found in various mosques and community centers in the region delivering Friday khutbas and giving talks about Islam. 

The four years that an undergraduate student typically spends at Zaytuna College will be, God willing, an enriching and rewarding experience inside—and outside—the classroom.

 "Where Tradition Comes Alive"

Islam is a religion based on a revelation from God. Despite its appropriateness for various times and places, it is a religion imbued with a deeply conservative spirit. This spirit helps to safeguard the integrity of the revelation. Muslims believe that the beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ conveyed the last message of God to humanity. Preserving the purity of that message poses one of the greatest challenges for the community of the faithful. Perhaps the best way to preserve that message is to implement it in one’s life. Hence, one of the central precepts of the Qur’an urges the believers to adhere closely to prophetic guidance. God mentions in that regard, Follow him [the Messenger of God] in order that you may be guided (7:158).

He also reveals, Say [O, Muhammad!], “If indeed you love God, then follow me. God will in turn love you and forgive you your sins. Surely God is most forgiving, most merciful” (3:31).
These injunctions to dutifully follow the Messenger of God ﷺ  are coupled with strong exhortations against innovation in religious matters. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ warned in that regard:
Those of you who live after me will surely witness much dissension. It is incumbent on you to adhere to my tradition and the way of my rightly-guided successors; cling tenaciously to them. And especially beware of innovated religious practices, for every innovation [in religious affairs] constitutes straying (Sunan Abi Dawud, 607; Sunan Ibn Majah, 6).
He also stated, “Whoever introduces an unfounded novel practice into our religion will have it rejected” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 469).

Preserving the Prophetic Guidance
This duality, of encouraging adherence to guidance while discouraging innovation, is buttressed by the authentic chains of transmission, which have served as the principal means of conveying religious knowledge. These chains of transmission have safeguarded both the foundational texts of Islam and scholarly writings from the earliest centuries of the religion, facilitating an intellectual stability that has prevailed in the Islamic realm. They have also helped to establish a tradition of qualified scholarship that is essential for the preservation and perpetuation of the prophetic guidance. 
Links about Zaytuna College:

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