• About

    In 2009, Zaytuna College was founded in Berkeley, California, with a mission that called for grounding students in the Islamic scholarly tradition as well as in the cultural currents and critical ideas shaping modern society.

  • Academics

    As a Muslim liberal arts college in the West, Zaytuna offers a curriculum that provides its students with a foundation in the intellectual heritage of two major world civilizations: the Islamic and the Western.

  • Admissions & Aid

    Our mission is to educate students to become morally, intellectually, and spiritually accomplished individuals ready to contribute to our contemporary world in ways that are proportionate to their gifts and to the needs of human society.

  • Campus Life

    Zaytuna’s campus is on Holy Hill and students enter the College as part of a cohort, a community of learners that travel together through the curriculum.

Esma Sag Sencal

Assistant Professor

Esma Sag Sencal


Office hours: By appointment

Dr. Esma Sag Sencal is a scholar of Arabic Language Studies, with emphasis in the areas of nahw (syntax) and balagha (rhetoric), methodological approaches to language studies, and modern linguistic studies. Dr. Esma specializes in the theoretical aspects of the Arabic language, with understanding of disciplines like nahw, sarf, and balagha, and their historical evolution from the Jahiliyya period to the present day. Her research interest lies in exploring how the classical Arabic language tradition approaches linguistics, focusing on scholars’ interpretation of intra-linguistic structures, methodological influences, and the relationships between internal and external language factors.

Having obtained her BSc in Arabic Language and its Literature in 2011, MA from Fatih Sultan Mehmet Waqf University in 2014, M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh in 2017, and her PhD from Marmara University in 2023, Dr. Sag Sencal has built a robust academic foundation. She engages both with classical Muslim thought and modern linguistic theory, studying the emergence of modern linguistics and its developments. Her knowledge is further enhanced by her training in the X-bar theory and formal semantics.

A principal objective of Dr. Sag Sencal’s exploration of modern linguistic approaches is to devise ways to elucidate the classical Arabic language tradition within the context and terminology of contemporary research, while adhering faithfully to its original lineage. To this end, her doctoral thesis, "Positions of Contemporary Arabic Language Researchers towards Linguistics," critically investigates the discourses of contemporary Arabic linguists and their positions within the Lakatosian perspective of scientific progress.

She joined Zaytuna College as an assistant professor in Arabic Language in 2023.

Dr. Sag Sencal is a native speaker of Turkish with advanced Arabic fluency.


  • BSc in Arabic Language and its Literature from The University of Jordan in 2011

  • MA in Civilization Studies from Fatih Sultan Mehmet Waqf University in 2014

  • M.Sc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 2017

  • PhD in Language and its Rhetoric from Marmara University in 2023

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • Sağ Şencal, E & Benli, A. (August, 2022). Modern Dilbilime Yönelen Çağdaş Arap Dilcilerinin Dilbilim Etkinlikleri ve Klasik Arap Dili Geleneği Karşısındaki Pozisyonları (The Linguistic Activities of Contemporary Arab Language Researchers Showing Interest in Modern Linguistics and Their Positions Towards the Classical Arabic Language Tradition). Şarkiyat 14(2), 498-520. https://doi.org/10.26791/sarkiat.1123356.

  • Sağ Şencal, E. (2020). The emergence and development of Saussurean linguistic thought and structural linguistics in Turkey. Language & History, 63(2), 139-165. https://doi.org/10.1080/17597536.2020.1744291