I was a bit late for my meeting last week with 19-year-old Mussab Abouabdalla, who I hoped would explain to me why anyone would attend Zaytuna College, an unaccredited three-year-old Muslim institution with about 30 students and not even 10 professors. I found Mr. Abouabdalla at Caffe Strada. He had arranged his books on the table as if to answer my question.
By his right hand, on a neat stack, was the Koran, the Muslim holy book. Beneath it was the quadrivium, the Renaissance curriculum, comprising arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. And at the bottom was the trivium, comprising grammar, logic and rhetoric, traditionally taught before the quadrivium. These seven arts were once the basis of a European education, and they have recently become popular with some Christian home-schoolers.
Now, at Zaytuna College, the Greeks, the scholastics and the whole Western tradition are being taught alongside the Koran.