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Manning the Lighthouse in Turbulent Times

A Virtual Benefit Event
October 25, 5:00 pm PDT

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With the help of current students, graduates, faculty, and some very special guests, Imam Zaid Shakir and President Hamza Yusuf will present Zaytuna College’s accomplishments—among them a critical new book on Islamic theology written by faculty member Shaykh Faraz Khan—and chart a vision for the future of American Muslim scholarship. The event will feature a keynote lecture by the ethicist and critic of popular culture Dr. Thomas Hibbs, who serves as president of the University of Dallas, on the importance of liberal arts colleges, with an emphasis on Zaytuna College’s role in American educational diversity. His talk will be followed by a conversation with Zaytuna’s president, Hamza Yusuf, on the crisis of nihilism in current American culture and how liberal education addresses that problem.

President Yusuf has been a guest of Baylor University and met Dr. Hibbs when he was Dean of Baylor. Dr. Hibbs, a devout Catholic, has proved to be a sincere friend and ally of Zaytuna College and its mission to promote the liberal arts and great books tradition among the Muslim community. 

More than any previous civilization, it was the Muslim civilization that preserved and further developed the foundations of all knowledges: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, harmonics, and astronomy. Eventually, it was the Muslims who, as caretakers of the past, handed their knowledge to the West, a history that’s well-documented by honest scholars, such as George Sarton. Our distinguished guest, President Thomas Hibbs of the University of Dallas, highlighted this forgotten history in an op-ed earlier this year about Zaytuna College, writing:

Before medieval Western Christians encountered the full scope of ancient pagan learning and long before the Renaissance, Islamic thinkers devoted themselves to such learning, to the mastery of the liberal arts and the meticulous readings of ancient texts. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the remarkable flourishing of philosophy in the high Middle Ages, fueled by the writings of 13th century Catholic thinkers, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, without the work of Islamic (as well as Jewish) scholars.

At Zaytuna, we strive to reclaim our heritage through reviving these arts that free minds and hearts. We’ve set our sights on a true liberal arts education: the unique tradition that remains the common heritage of the three great faiths of Abraham—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The study of these arts coupled with a deep and critical study of some of the Islamic and Western tradition’s enduring masterpieces can serve as guiding lights in these troubling times. Our Prophet ﷺ summed up humanity’s core problems in his farewell address: abuse of class, race, and gender and a war on nature continue to vex us. These problems have been the subject matter of the sages of the past. By neglecting the wisdom of the prophets, peace be upon them, and their students among the saints, sages, and scholars of the past, we foolishly find ourselves repeating the mistakes they addressed so masterfully.

The crisis from the neglect of this knowledge has reached a tipping point reflected symptomatically in spiritual malaise, social and environmental degradation, and a tragic nihilism infecting many of our beleaguered youth. The crassness of today’s culture, from Wall Street to Main Street, from Hollywood to Bollywood, stems from what the Greeks called apeirokalia: their word for vulgarity, which means “lack of experience in things beautiful.” At Zaytuna, we expose our students to the most beautiful works of our species, from Rumi to Razi, from Shakespeare to al-Hariri, from Euclid to Khawarizmi, but most importantly to Revelation and its prophetic keys.

Lest we forget, tomorrow may never come, but our Prophet ﷺ commanded us that should the last day arrive—ours or the world’s—while planting a sapling, if able, then we must continue planting. So now more than ever, let’s recommit ourselves to the work of renewing our tradition’s intellectual heritage. 

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President Thomas Hibbs

President Thomas Hibbs is the first alumnus to serve as president of the University of Dallas, where he received his B.A. in English (’82) and M.A. in philosophy (’83). He completed his M.M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. From 2003 to 2019, Dr. Hibbs was dean of the Honors College and distinguished professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University, which has honored him with the title Dean Emeritus. Called upon regularly to comment on film and popular culture, he has published more than 100 reviews and articles on film, theater, art, and higher education in First ThingsThe Dallas Morning NewsThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe New AtlantisThe Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among others. 

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President Hamza Yusuf

President Hamza Yusuf promotes classical learning in Islam and emphasizes the importance of the “tools of learning” so central to Muslim civilization and known in the West as the “liberal arts.” He is currently president of Zaytuna College and has published numerous articles, essays, encyclopedia entries, and translations, including The Prayer of the Oppressed and Purification of the Heart

Join us on October 25, 5:00 pm PDT

Preserve Knowledge. Preserve Beauty. Make a Gift Today