Wednesday, March 11, 2015

America Just Got Its First Accredited Muslim College

THINK PROGRESS: A Muslim college received formal academic accreditation this past weekend, making it the first officially recognized Islamic institution of higher learning in the United States.

On Sunday, Zaytuna College, a liberal-arts school based in Berkeley, California, announced that it was formally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of the six official academic bodies responsible for the authorizing public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

“Today, Zaytuna’s accreditation roots this vision in a reality recognized within American higher education,” Hamza Yusuf, president of the college, said in a statement celebrating the announcement.

The statement also added, “[Accreditation] helps ensure that Zaytuna successfully fulfills the objectives outlined in its curriculum, which grounds its students in both the Islamic and Western scholarly traditions.”

According to the school’s website, Zaytuna was founded in 1996 as an institute and briefly operated as an Islamic seminary before dedicating itself to becoming a Muslim liberal arts college in 2009. It welcomed its first freshman class in 2010, and conferred its first undergraduate degrees in 2014. It has a student body of around 30 students, and offers a B.A. in Islamic Law and Theology and courses in politics, astronomy, and American history, among others. In a video chronicling the school’s pursuit of accreditation, Colleen Keyes, vice president of academic affairs, explained that the school’s goal is “to prepare and educate students, who are morally committed spiritual, intellectual, and professional leaders who are grounded in the Islamic tradition and conversant with … modern society.” » | Jack Jenkins | Tuesday, March 10, 2015