Dear Supporters of Zaytuna College,
Salām ‘alaykum. We find ourselves this Ramadan, as we did last year, in the midst of an uncommon global plight; we still face uncertain times ahead, even as the crucibles of our culture seem infected with nihilism and negativity. Fortunately, Ramadan reminds us to place our trust where it belongs—in God. The time has come to return to the Book of Allah, to recite and reflect upon it, to perform penance and prayer, and to commune with family and friends. When we trust God, we understand that a wisdom lies behind any hardship we undergo. Surely with hardship comes ease.
God, His Messenger ﷺ, family, and community are all part of a full spiritual life, and as we seek this month to deepen our relationship with our Creator and better emulate our Prophet ﷺ, we can also recommit ourselves to deepening family bonds and serving our communities. I want to thank you for supporting a project we believe has immense import for our growing community in the United States, not to mention its increasing significance abroad.
By the grace of God, Zaytuna College has been built and is being sustained by you and other pioneering Muslims who believe in the power of permanent truth and in the renewal of the intellectual tradition of Islam. Graduates from our accredited BA and MA programs are now pursuing careers in medicine, law, philosophy, Islamic studies, and other fields of learning at distinguished places, such as Harvard, Oxford, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and several others. We also have graduates serving as lawyers for the Department of Justice, as teachers in Muslim schools, as chaplains at major secular schools, and as imams and community organizers around the country.
Our graduates leave Zaytuna grounded in the timeless texts and truths of both the Islamic and the Western traditions, and we hope and trust they leave us fortified with antidotes to the nihilistic and cynical ideas preached from secular pulpits, especially in education or entertainment. God willing, our graduates will pursue lives of learning and service in their diverse spheres of influence committed to the common weal.
We hope that this is only the beginning of much greater things to come. For the first time, we expect to admit international MA students this fall, including those trained at some of the great centers of learning in the Muslim world. Our BA program in liberal arts continues to attract students who are qualified to go to any college in the country but choose to enroll at Zaytuna.
I invite you to attend our Commencement on May 23, where you will get a glimpse of the eye-opening intellectual work our students are producing, such as comparing the weight of the Muslim sources of evidence with the Western legal understanding of testimony, analyzing stem cell research through the lens of Islamic bioethics, and responding to liberal notions of political justice through a framework rooted in the Islamic tradition.
Our mission isn’t just to educate our students but to benefit the broader, commonly shared community. The Emir-Stein Center helps educate people unfamiliar with—and even suspicious of—Islam. Millions of people have viewed the Center’s short videos, and we urge you to share them within your circles. Furthermore, we have revived our curriculum series books: last fall, we published An Introduction to Islamic Theology, a major translation of and commentary on a classical theological text by our own Shaykh Faraz Khan; this year, we plan to publish an important text on the Arabic language’s prepositions or “glue” letters, which will aid serious students of Arabic on their journey. Also, Renovatio published its newest issue, “Suffering as Surrender,” and is in the midst of publishing its next issue on the theme of equality to provide perspectives largely lacking in the current public discourse. In addition, after a successful series of online events for Rabi al-Awwal, we continue to invest in online community education, which includes live classes and podcasts this Ramadan.
Your support represents more to us than economic sustainability. It gives us confidence that our supporters concur with us on the importance of this project, and it compels us to aim for more growth, as we allocate your generous gifts as judiciously and effectively as we can.
This Ramadan, let us find ease through opening our hearts to the light of the Qur’an, recommitting ourselves to the path of the prophets, and protecting ourselves from doubt and despair by seeking refuge in God. Along with our faculty, staff, and students, let me express our sincere gratitude for your thoughts, prayers, and financial gifts toward what we hope will become a minaret of marvel that reflects the beauty of our faith and reveals the importance of Muslim scholarship in this country.
Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College President