Faith-based colleges are hardly a rarity across the U.S. as schools established on specific religious beliefs pepper the nation's educational landscape. One heretofore notable exception, however, was an accredited Islamic college.
Recent reports confirm California's Zaytuna College filled that role earlier this month when it received an approval letter from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. As part of its current level of accreditation, the Muslim school may now offer students an accredited Bachelor of Arts major in Islamic Law and Theology.
Zaytuna College President Hamza Yusuf was naturally pleased with the development.
"It gives our community its first accredited academic address in the United States," he said. "And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come."
The school received outside support from within the academic community, including University of California at Berkley lecturer Hatem Bazian, who praised Zaytuna's mission of fostering "a conscious human being possessing agency that is directly and foundationally connected to the Divine."
UC Berkley, along with nearby Stanford University, joined the WASC in Zaytuna's accreditation process.
Though there are those who believe the move is warranted, plenty of others have concerns. An overwhelming majority of comments following an article about Zaytuna College on The College Fix demonstrate a public distrust of facilitating such an environment.
"So, does this 'Muslim LAW and theology' degree mean that we are going to see a massive push to introduce Sharia law into our system????" one reader wondered. "CRAZY!"
Another saw a potential problem for a school with a set of guiding principles that differs from America's inclusive social policies.
"If they take one dime of government funding," the commenter wrote, "they will have to let in LGBT students, atheists, etc. Unless of course Obama exempts them in the name of Allah."