By Adil James, TMO
Dearborn–June 2–Zaytuna is a forerunner organization in the United States, the very first successful post-secondary Islamic educational institution teaching traditional Islamic knowledge through the form of an American liberal arts institution.
Saturday evening in Dearborn Zaytunaâ€™s superstar speakers Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir described the work of Zaytuna and vigorously encouraged an audience of about 450 to support Zaytuna.
The theme of the evening was â€œbrick by brick,â€ and Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir attempted to sell the foundation â€œbricksâ€ of the institution for $1,000 each.
The Emcee of the evening was CAIR Michiganâ€™s executive director Dawud Walid who echoed another theme that ran through the evening, that Muslims have to build institutions in the same way that previous religious minorities in this country have built institutions.
Hamza Yusuf spoke at length to explain his vision of what role Zaytuna College will play–he argued that the purpose of attending university is not to make money, as most of the wealthiest business men in fact dropped out of college, citing Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others.
Yusuf mentioned other religious communities which have established universities; even Buddhists and Hindus, newly arrived tiny minorities in this nation, have established colleges here. Yusuf argued that every religious community has built its own institutions of higher education.
Yusuf spoke of the need for teaching our young people a Muslim aesthetic–which is intrinsic to every Muslim culture and yet is not on display for young Muslims in this nation.
Yusuf argued that a liberal arts education is vastly more beneficial than studying a specific discipline like engineering or medicine, and cited as an example a study he had done of the most influential 100 people in America, all of whom had liberal arts educations. â€œ2.5% of post secondary schoolsâ€ are liberal arts schools, â€œbut 20% of the most influential people in Americaâ€ have liberal arts educations.
The overarching theme of Yusufâ€™s speech was that Zaytuna should function to feed the Muslim communityâ€™s need for an intellectual support in all the necessary forms, whether writing, teaching faculty, or if only as the backdrop for whatever other achievements Zaytuna graduates will achieve.
In keeping with Mr. Yusufâ€™s teachings regarding the Muslim aesthetic, each table at the event had hand-carved calligraphy on it, being sold in part to benefit Zaytuna.
Each piece was lovingly crafted by hand by HayatCo Arts; for information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the website at hayatcoarts.com.