Islam Experts Wary of Plan for U.S. Muslim College

Two experts, one a Christian the other a devout Muslim, are both wary of a plan in progress to establish the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States.

Both fear that the proposed school, which could open as soon as next fall, would promote the idea of the Islamic state.

"Certainly, an attempt at the formation of an accredited college by Muslim academics can be a good thing if it is founded in the ideas of freedom and liberty and against Islamism (political Islam)," said Dr. M. Zuhidi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), to The Christian Post.

"[But] I'm not convinced that this college will be creating anti-Islamist Muslims who will reform sharia (Islamic law) and bring Muslim thought into an era where religious law can be separated from government as the Establishment Clause mandates," he added.

Jasser, who is a devout practicing Muslim American and a former physician to the U.S. Congress, pointed out that one of the college's main scholars, Imam Zaid Shakir, had said in a 2006 New York Times story that he hopes the United States will one day be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law.

The "primary root cause" of Islamic radicalism, stressed Jasser, is the mission to establish an Islamic state.

"The leadership of Zaytuna [College] seems to be all about political Islam with no public critique of the global mission of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist idealogies," said Jasser, whose public critique of problems he sees in his faith has resulted in a backlash from the Muslim community.

He added, "I dream of the day where universities have established endowed chairs in the study of anti-Islamist studies from the viewpoint of freedom and with devout Muslims leading the charge and the academics."

A group of American Muslims, including Zaid Shakir, is leading an effort to establish Zaytuna College, or what some call the "Muslim Georgetown."

Shakir, who converted to Islam while serving in the U.S. Air Force, said the college will offer liberal arts education and Islamic studies, The Associated Press reported. The college plans to start with offering two majors: Arabic language and Islamic legal and theological studies.

In 1996, Shakir founded Zaytuna Institute based in Berkeley, Calif. The American Muslim imam, who now has tens of thousands of followers, was trained under Islamic scholars in North Africa and the Middle East for years after his conversion.

Shakir told the New York Times earlier that he wants the United States to be ruled by Islamic law "not by violent means, but by persuasion."

Dr. William Wagner, author of How Islam Plans to Change the World, said he is not surprised about the plan to build a Muslim college in the United States. He said for years Islamists have planned to open universities in western countries.

"They see the value of education especially in educating their young leaders for eventual takeover of some western countries," said Wagner, former professor of missions at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in San Francisco, to The Christian Post.

"Their strategy includes extensive student work in many U.S. universities and the start of a new university is only an extension of their main strategy," he said.

Wagner served for over 30 years as a missionary in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with the International Mission Board.

Currently, leaders of Zaytuna are in the midst of a fundraising campaign. They need $2 to $4 million to launch the school next year. A Zaytuna adviser told AP in a recent interview that the school will soon raise tens of millions of dollars to build a campus in the Bay area in the next few years.

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