Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zaytuna, first Muslim college (huffington post)

By Joanna Corman

Religion News Service
BERKELEY, Calif. (RNS) Faatimah Knight's college decision came down to eight schools where she would have majored in English, or Zaytuna College, where she could study Islamic classical teachings in an environment that embraces all aspects of her Muslim faith.
The Brooklyn native is part of the inaugural class of what Zaytuna's founders hope will be the country's first accredited, four-year Muslim liberal arts college -- a flagship of higher learning with an Islamic identity yet open to all faiths.
Knight, 18, chose Zaytuna, she said, because she wants to grow in her faith, learn more about the religion that inspired her parents to convert from Christianity and be able to defend Islam during a time of stepped-up suspicion.
Four years of college, Knight said, "has to bring me more than book smarts."
"I want to feel like I'm improving as a person. I want to feel like I'm improving in terms of my character," she said. "I'm almost positive that I can only get that here."
Knight, an aspiring writer, is one of 15 Zaytuna students who started classes Tuesday (Aug. 24). Zaytuna College grew out of a pilot seminary program at the Zaytuna Institute, which graduated a handful of students in 2008. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, an American-born convert from the San Francisco Bay Area more

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