Zaytuna College, a new institution in Berkeley, California, has attracted a lot of positive news coverage. But Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, wonders why and accuses the media for overlooking some key problems at the school.
Reports have called Zaytuna the "first Muslim college in the U.S." But Schwartz points out that the American Islamic College in Chicago opened in 1981. He asks why the college was "so favored by American media" when he sees it more as "a novelty, and not a very interesting one." The new college's proprietor, Hamza Yusuf [Schwartz refers to him as Hamza Yusuf Hanson], has not yet obtained enough financial support to develop the new college in the "ambitious way" that he initially proposed. Plus, Zaytuna College has only four faculty members and a limited offering of courses for students, Schwartz says.
"How can such an enterprise be needed, considering the plentitude of Middle East courses available at America's existing universities and colleges?" he wrote. The college will "presumably vindicate Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson's overweening narcissism while providing a platform for the Islamist ideology of his mentors."