A group of American Muslims, led by two prominent scholars, is moving closer to fulfilling a vision of founding the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States, what some are calling a "Muslim Georgetown."
Advisers to the project have scheduled a June vote to decide whether the proposed Zaytuna College can open in the fall of next year, a major step toward developing the faith in America.
Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheik Hamza Yusuf of California have spent years planning the school, which will offer a liberal arts education and training in Islamic scholarship. Shakir, a California native, sees the school in the tradition of other religious groups that formed universities to educate leaders and carve a space in the mainstream of American life.
"As a faith community our needs aren't any different than the needs of any other faith community," Shakir told the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, as he sought donations at a recent conference near Princeton, N.J. "As Muslims, we need to develop institutions to allow us to perpetuate our values."