• 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.

Youssef Ismail

Assistant Professor

Youssef Ismail


Email: yismail@zaytuna.edu

Office hours: By appointment

Dr. Youssef Ismail is a scholar of mechanical engineering with field specialities in Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics, and the History of Science and Maliki Fiqh. At Zaytuna College, Dr. Ismail has taught Maliki Fiqh 1 and 2, Mathematics, History of Science, Astronomy, and Geometry.

Dr. Ismail received his BS in Engineering from California State University, Northridge, in 1990. He went on to earn both his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1991 and 1996, respectively. Dr. Ismail has an ijaza to teach al-Murshid al-Mu’in granted by Shaykh Khatry Lamannah as well as an ijaza to teach al-Akhdari, Maharim al-Lisan, Birr ul-Walidayn, and Matharat al-Qulub granted by Shaykh Salek bin Sidne.

Prior to his post at Zaytuna College, Dr. Ismail was an engineer at Space Systems and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He was also a science instructor, mentor, and curriculum developer at Schmahl Science Workshop.

His PhD thesis, titled “Interactive Simulation of Resin Transfer Molding,” illustrates the use of computer code for simulating the resin transfer molding process.


“Teaching is the transmission of knowledge from one heart to another. Knowledge is a debt owed to those students who come asking for the knowledge the teacher possesses. Knowledge is also like a pearl that is hidden inside the shell of an oyster that is clinging to the bottom of the ocean. To obtain that knowledge one must dive down and expend great effort in holding their breath and struggling against buoyant forces as they go down to the ocean floor, pry up the oyster, and bring it to the surface, where the struggle continues to force the shells open to find that glowing self-luminescent pearl inside. Only then will the student of knowledge be rewarded with the beauty of what he or she sought. The teacher is there to facilitate for the student guidance and instruction on how to find and open the shells that will reveal that beauty to the student, and in that pass along to the student what the teacher already knows, fulfilling what is owed to those who come asking.”

Professor Ismail joined the Zaytuna College faculty in Fall 2013.


  • Stanford University, PhD, Mechanical Engineering, 1996

  • Stanford University, MS, Mechanical Engineering, 1991

  • California State University, Northridge, BS, Engineering, 1990

Working Papers

“Qiblah: A Comparative Study,” 1999.

Lectures, talks, and other speaking engagements

  • “Divine Reality by the Numbers.” ZIYC lecture, San Francisco, January 2020

  • “Astronomy in the Islamic Imagination.” ZIYC lecture, Michigan, 2018

  • “Crescent Visibility and Sighting: An Introduction.” Zaytuna College, 2017

  • “Guarding Mercy.” ZIYC lecture, Portland, OR, 2017

  • “Eclipsing the Nafs.” ZIYC lecture, Portland, OR, 2017

Personal Interests

Landscape and nature photography, astro-photography, astronomy, timekeeping (tawqeet), hiking, fishing, hunting, gardening