Zaytuna, a small liberal arts college in Berkeley, California, has been granted accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The accreditation makes Zaytuna the first accredited Muslim college in the United States, reports Education News.
The article stated Zaytuna was founded as a ministry in 1996. In 2009, the ministry transitioned to a college and the first class entered in 2010. The first graduation took place last year.
"Five years ago, we introduced an undergraduate liberal arts program inspired by the idea of restoring the holistic education that had been offered in the great teaching centers of Islamic civilization," Zaytuna President Hamza Yusuf said in a statement on the university website.
Zaytuna was founded by Hatem Bazian, Zaid Shakir and Yusuf with a vision of offering students an education steeped in the historical tradition of Islam while teaching ideas and cultural forces impacting the modern world, the University Herald reported.
The founders of Zaytuna seek to bring a moderate stance that incorporates traditional Islamic teachings with modern Western culture, giving Muslims the foundation to avoid falling into extremism, wrote Alison Lesley for World Religion News.
Lesley wrote that Zaytuna has been pursuing accreditation since 2008.
"An accredited institution makes it possible to open many doors and creates local, regional, national and international academic relations," Bazian told World Religion News in a written statement.
Bazian said he hopes the accreditation will facilitate dialogue about faith and society by providing, "much-needed context to understanding Muslim circumstances in the West."
The prestige of accreditation means the degrees granted by Zaytuna will now be recognized by employers and graduate schools. Currently, Zaytuna offers a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Law and Theology, according to the University Herald.