Berkeley Islam: Zaytuna college vs UCB Near East Studies

Have fun while working, retiring, learning, studying,… Live in a tent in People’s Park Berkeley – has sand volleyball courts and smart rich teen girls in tight white shorts walking thru the park 24×7. Great Restaurants and weather. Study Islam across the street (Dwight Way) at the Baptist Seminary, a very nice set of immaculate ivy old brick buildings. Get a job with the FBI. Seems a little pricey to me — similar tuition as UCB engineering! Maybe just talk to the students and professors over lunch and enjoy the great weather and festive atmosphere.

Better yet, for those preoccupied with middle east Jews and Muslims study at Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies Department, founded in 1894, is one of the oldest and most distinguished such departments in the country. The Department offers both general instruction and specialized training in Archaeology, Art History, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian Studies, Judaic and Islamic Studies, Comparative Semitics, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. The Department offers a wide variety of courses to supplement such related fields as classics, linguistics, history, political science, comparative literature, anthropology, and art history. Near Eastern Studies is one of the leaders in the Digital Humanities movement on campus.

Zaytuna College is housed in Berkeley’s Baptist Seminary of the West on Dwight Way.

The college, which is charging annual fees of $11,000, has its genesis in the Zaytuna Institute, an Islamic seminary founded by Shaykh Hamza in Hayward in 1996.

Speaking about the motivation for launching the college, Dr Bazian: “The Muslim community in the United States is growing. As such, it is increasingly needing an institution of higher learning.”

The Bay Area has a significant Muslim community. Zaytuna College estimates 300,000 to 500,000 Muslims live in the region, and that there are more than 50 mosques and dozens of organizations that “reflect the greater Bay Area’s characteristics of tolerance and activism”.

On its website, Zaytuna describes Berkeley as “a center for American intellectual and spiritual life” and speaks of being able to take advantage of the area’s “long tradition of political and social justice activism”, as well as the city’s “abundant cultural attractions”.

the new college has already received wide media coverage. Reza Aslan suggested its launch could be “the next Muslim controversy”. California Magazine looks at how the arrival of the college signals an increased interest in Islamic studies generally.


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