Seekers of sacred knowledge : Zaytuna College and the education of American Muslims



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In a time when “traditional” Islam and Islamic education are seen as incommensurable with American society and ideals, American Muslims are mobilizing traditions of Islamic scholarship within liberal arts institutional frameworks to articulate and establish the future possibilities of Islam and being Muslim in North America. This research shows how the Islamic discursive tradition is being critically engaged by the scholars and students of Zaytuna College to craft an “American Islam” based on a shared moral and ethical system that draws from and is relevant to the heterogeneous experiences of diverse Muslims and their material circumstances. Based on eighteen months of ethnographic research at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, and in the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area, this study’s methodological approach is grounded in participant-observation, interviews, and visual ethnography.