Converts Plan Islamic College in Berkeley

Renown converts lead effort to reinterpret Islam
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 3, 2009 3:45 PM CDT
Zaid Shakir is photographed at the offices of Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, Calif., the organization he runs with Hamza Yusuf.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Two superstars of American Islam are at the helm of what they hope will be the nation’s first accredited Islamic college, tasked with creating scholars who can usher a religious renewal. Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir, both converts, aim to admit Zaytuna College’s first class next year in Berkeley, Calif., immersing students in modern culture as they seek traditional training, the East Bay Express reports.

Yusuf, billed as the “Elvis Presley of Western Muslims,” says the world has too many “half-baked weekend muftis calling for jihad after looking up its meaning on Google.” Islam doesn’t have the scholars needed to adapt traditional doctrine to the modern day, he contends. That converts are leading this reform is no surprise, Shakir notes, since they “tend to be zealous.”