Honoring the Past, Embracing the Present at Zaytuna College 

Dear Zaytuna Supporter,  


Salam alaykum wa rahmatullah.

As we begin a new year and a new semester at Zaytuna, we reflect on the importance of tajdeed, or renewal, in Islam. As our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) conveys in a well-known hadith, renewal is integral to the Islamic tradition. As the parched earth is renewed by rain, so is Islam renewed by the pursuit of divine knowledge and education.


At Zaytuna, we believe that the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and the constant effort to better ourselves and our communities are goals worth honoring. This pursuit protects us from complacency, requires us to have an open mind, and challenges us to reexamine our assumptions. It also calls us to embrace change, which is the only constant in creation. By embracing the transformation of renewal, we may realize our purpose in the world.


Unlike many in amnesiac, materialistic, and individualistic societies, we should never forget the past, reinvent ourselves according to current trends, or allow preconceived notions based on contemporary inclinations to shape our engagement with ancient scholarship. In the Islamic tradition, renewal takes place in continuity with history; we enhance our contribution to the present by engaging the great scholarship of the past. At Zaytuna, we strive to embrace and preserve the religious and intellectual heritage of past centuries, then to refine and apply it to the complex realities that confront us individually and collectively in the modern world.   


As we face a host of challenging and exciting changes this semester, we strive to remember that what matters most is not the challenges but how we respond to them. Our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) responded to crisis in Mecca by making Hijra, thereby transforming history. At this time of new beginnings, let us make a Hijra of intention. Let us turn away from the worldly toward the divine, from our lower motivations toward the highest spiritual aspirations. Let's not allow our preoccupations with our material status to distract us from witnessing our status with Allah.  As we pursue divine knowledge, we ask Allah to awaken us to the divine in our daily lives.

Dr. Hatem Bazian

Zaytuna cofounder
Planting Seeds for a Greener Future

Leaders in the fields of education, theology, and the environment convened at Zaytuna College in January to discuss the religious basis for environmental protection and to share strategies for implementing environmental education in Islamic schools. The Experiential Environmental Education in Islamic Schools workshop was established in partnership with the University of Vermont's Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS) and the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. 


Participants came from Islamic schools across the country, including a student from Zaytuna College: Aaron Choy, president of the college's Green Khalifah environmental club. As host of the workshop, Zaytuna affirmed its commitment to interfaith dialogue, Islamic education, and environmental protection from an Islamic perspective.  


The workshop began with Imam Zaid Shakir's keynote address, "A New Year's Resolution: Planting the Seeds for a Greener Tomorrow." Dr. Mahan Mirza of Zaytuna College then recited from Surah al-Rahman before moderating a lively panel discussion in which workshop presenters engaged one another and the audience about challenges and opportunities we face.  Panelists included Imam Afroz Ali (Seeker's Guidance), Imam Dawood Yasin (Dartmouth College), Ibrahim Abdul-Matin (Author of Green Deen), Rhamis Kent (Permaculture Research Institute), Dr. Anna Gade (University of Wisconsin), Nana Firman, Rizwaan Akhtar (Green Muslims), and Ameena Jandali (Islamic Networks Group). 


Over the course of the four-day workshop, presenters from other faith traditions explored our common religious basis for protecting the earth and participants toured two Bay area school gardens to learn about practical solutions they could implement in their schools. At his closing lecture on January 4, Hamza Yusuf brought the program full circle by returning to Surah al-Rahman. 


Click here for photos from the workshop.

Help Make 2013 Another Historic Year for Zaytuna

New campus  

Alhamdulillah, by the grace of God and thanks to your generous support, 2012 was a historic year for Zaytuna College. During Ramadan we purchased a new campus at the Holy Hill in Berkeley, California, near the Graduate Theological Union, one of the largest interfaith academic institutions in the world. Our new campus instantly places our community at the heart of a meaningful engagement of faiths in our increasingly interdependent and pluralistic world. We have already moved our administrative offices to the new campus.


With your prayers and support, 2013 will be another momentous year. We plan for faculty and students to relocate to our new campus by the year's end. We will also host our sixth consecutive Summer Arabic Intensive, welcome our fourth freshman class, and usher our inaugural freshman class through the third year of its four-year bachelor's degree program.


Your support is critical to our success. Last year Zaytuna College set a goal to raise $500,000 by the end of the year. By the grace of God and thanks to your generous contributions, we were able to raise $460,000. During this campaign donors received Hamza Yusuf's Prohibitions of the Tongue class as a gift for their contributions. In our final effort to reach our goal, Zaytuna College is extending this gift offer: For a donation of $60 or more, you can instantly download this in-depth class. Please lend your support and help make 2013 another historic year for Zaytuna. 




Reviving the Islamic Spirit


Zaytuna College was a main sponsor of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention and Knowledge Retreat in Toronto, Canada from Dec 21 to Dec 26.  Numerous attendees and guest speakers, including renowned Islamic scholar Habib Ali al-Jifri, visited our booth to learn more about the first Muslim Liberal Arts College in North America, meet cofounder Zaid Shakir, and express their support for our work. 
Click here for exclusive photos from RIS.


Sacred Caravan: The Spiritual Journey of a Lifetime


The 2013 Sacred Caravan registration is now open. Join Hamza Yusuf for umrah, March 28 - April 9, 2013, and experience the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Registration is limited. 


Click here for details.