Islamic Scholars Plan for America’s First Muslim College

Sheik Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir share a vision for the next step in the evolution of Islam in America: creating the country’s first four-year, accredited Muslim college.

The two men, American scholars of Islam and leaders in the Muslim community, are criss-crossing the country building support for an institution they call Zaytuna College, which they plan to open next fall. The college will serve the nation’s growing Muslim population, blending traditional Islam and American culture and establishing a permanent place for the religion in American society.

Before any of that can happen, Zaytuna’s founders face steep challenges. They must hire a staff, establish a curriculum, develop admissions policies, and raise at least $5-million just to open their doors, all during a particularly trying time for college fund raising. At the same time, government scrutiny has put a chill on Muslim philanthropy.

Sheik Hamza Yusuf (left) and Imam Zaid Shakir, the Muslim scholars who are creating Zaytuna U., are often called upon to speak on behalf of mainstream Islam in the United States. Kathryn Masterson reports.