Zaytuna College

Clarion Project
Article Source: Clarion Project

Article Source: Clarion Project

Islamist rhetoric is present in lectures that have taken place at Zaytuna. Its founders have repeatedly expressed extreme Islamist ideas and paranoia.

Zaytuna College was founded by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir and Hatem Bazian, chairman of American Muslims for Palestine. Its website says it was created to “restore broad-based and pluralistic scholarship to its proper place as a central priority of Muslims.”[2] It only offers two majors at this time: Islamic Law and Theology and Arabic Language.[3]

Hamza Yusuf is a co-founder, the president and a senior faculty member.[4]

In 1995, Yusuf called Judaism a “most racist religion.” The following year, he made an unequivocally anti-American statement at a Islamic Circle of North America conference:

“[America] is a country that has little to be proud of in its past and less to be proud of in the present. I am a citizen of this country not by choice but by birth. I reside in this country not by choice but by conviction in attempting to spread the message of Islam in this country. I became Muslim in part because I did not believe in the false gods of this society whether we call them Jesus or democracy or the Bill of Rights.”[5]

In an undated interview, Yusuf complained about “what happened in the 19th century with the abdication of Islamic Law and the usurpation of its place by Western legal systems.” He also accused the U.S. of trying to “unite the world” so “everybody will have the same banal perspectives on the world.” He stood against the “dominant world order, which is a capitalistic, Western world order.”[6]

On September 9, 2001, he said that the U.S. is “facing a very terrible fate,” “stands condemned” and “has a great tribulation coming to it.”

His tune changed after 9/11. In October 2001, he said that Muslims are treated better in the U.S. than in most Muslim countries, and “I don’t want to contribute to the hate in any shape or form. I now regret in the past being silent about what I have heard in Islamic discourse and being part of that with my own anger.”[7] In 2006, he spoke out against anti-Semitism and admitted he had been “infected” by it but “grew out of it.”[8]

In September 2014, Hamza Yusuf endorsed a letter opposing the Islamic State terrorist group’s tactics, but endorsed sharia governance’s brutal hudud punishments, the recreation of a caliphate and the Islamist doctrine of gradualism. It even implied that journalists that are viewed as dishonest as acceptable targets for violence.[8a]

Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, the chairman of the board, a senior faculty member and the chair of the Student Affairs Committee.[9]

Shakir preached in 1992 that the Muslim world needs a new Caliphate that will wage jihad and “use … weaponry against the enemies of Islam.”[10] He legitimizes attacks on U.S. soldiers, saying, “Islam doesn’t permit us to hijack airplanes filled with civilian people … [but] if you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that’s something else.”[11] He teaches that Hezbollah’s bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 was not a terrorist attack.[12]

Shakir says that attacks inside the U.S. are not permissible because Muslims have a “covenant of protection.”[13]  He promotes 9/11 conspiracy theories, saying the attacks “occurred under dubious circumstances that have yet to be thoroughly investigated.”[14] He accuses the U.S. of “demonizing” Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Hugo Chavez[15] and depicts Al-Qaeda, Hamas and terrorists in Iraq and Chechnya as fighters against imperialism.[16]

In 2003, he preached that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was part of a war against Islam and accused the U.S. government of persecuting Muslim-Americans. He said that Muslim-Americans should participate in jihad through institution-building, particularly in education and media.[17]

In 2006, it was reported that ”he said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law.”[18]

In April 2012, he wrote a poem that depicted the U.S. as a warmongering country whose soldiers ravage Muslim countries and murder and rape innocent civilians.[19] In December 2012, Shakir said the school shooting in Newton, Connecticut should “serve as a reminder” of what’s happening to children in Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, comparing the massacre to U.S. and Israeli military operations.[20]

Dr. Hatem Bazian is a co-founder, senior faculty member and the Academic Affairs Chair.[21] He is the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine.

On April 10, 2004, he said that Muslim-Americans need to follow in the footsteps of the “uprising in Iraq” (which was against U.S. soldiers) and “intifada in Palestine” by starting an “intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” Apparently aware of the aggressiveness of his statement, he said, “They’re gonna say some Palestinian [is] being too radical—well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet.”[22] He later appeared on The O’Reilly Factor about the speech and refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah.[23]

In June 2012, Bazian characterized the U.S. as a racist country that uses Third World countries to fight its wars: “The United States wants India to balance China, because if there is a conflict with China, we always like that the darker people fight our war and the more these people die is better for the officers because racism can be manifested across many sectors.”

Bazian also accused the U.S. government of trying to dismember the Muslim-American community under the guise of counter-terrorism. He said, “In the post 9/11 era there is [a] strategic and systematic process of targeting the Muslim leadership of organizational structures by eliminating the existing leadership that has developed over the last 40 years.”[24]

Islamist rhetoric is present in some of the lectures that have taken place at Zaytuna.

In a January 2012 lecture, Shakir said that the U.S. is controlled by a “small oligarchy.”[25] He also recommended that Muslims advocate for “the enforcement of anti-defamation statues” against what he considers anti-Muslim bigotry.[26]

On September 17, 2012, Yusuf, Shakir and Bazian spoke together at Zaytuna. Bazian claimed that the “military-industrial complex” is behind the “Islamophobic production industry” in order to get Americans to approve of killing Muslims:

“Those who are working on Islamophobia, they believe that the more hatred we have of Muslims in here [America], the more that we have reflexive hatred of Muslims abroad, thus authorizing or making the need for military action and the death and destruction more palatable to us without having to think we are actually killing humans,” he said.[27]

In the same lecture, Shakir expressed his condolences for the family of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was killed in a terrorist attack, but he coupled it with condolences for the families of eight Afghan women who were “brutally murdered by NATO bombs in Afghanistan.”

Yusuf spoke in favor of laws prohibiting speech that “mocks” religion. He cited incidents where artwork mocking Christianity was banned in the United Kingdom and Sweden and said anti-Muslim speech is a “present and imminent danger.”

“I want to argue that when the First Amendment, which is such a beautiful testimony to the ideals of this country, was enacted, there were dueling laws in the United States of America and the dueling laws were actually a caveat to make sure you didn’t use freedom of speech to abuse other people,” Yusuf said. [28]


[1] “Contact,” Zaytuna College website, https://www.zaytunacollege.org/contact/.

[2] “Our History,” Zaytuna College website, https://www.zaytunacollege.org/about/our_history/.

[3] “Bachelor’s Program,” Zaytuna College website, https://www.zaytunacollege.org/academics/.

[4] “Faculty,” Zaytuna College website, https://www.zaytunacollege.org/academics/faculty/.

[5] Schwartz, Stephen. “Is Cat Stevens a Terrorist?” Weekly Standard, September 22, 2004. https://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/667bkgnr.asp?page=2

[6] “Interview with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf,” Sunnah.org, https://www.sunnah.org/fiqh/interview_yusuf.htm.

[7] O’Sullivan, Jack. “’If You Hate the West, Emigrate to a Muslim Country,’” The Guardian, October 7, 2001. https://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/08/religion.uk

[8] “Interview with Sheik Hamza Yusuf,” PBS Frontline World, https://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/canada602/interview_yusuf.html.

[8a] Mauro, Ryan. “Muslim Leaders Sign Letter Against ISIS, But Endorse Sharia.” Clarion Project, October 1, 2014.  https://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/muslim-leaders-sign-letter-against-isis-endorse-sharia

[9] “Faculty.”

[10] Audio of the sermon was posted online.  “Imam Zaid Shakir: Failure of the Muslim Political Order Part 2,” Umar Lee YouTube channel, December 18, 2012. https://youtu.be/yJgw30fejwo

[11] “CAIR Speaker to Muslims: OK to Attack Fort Bragg,” WorldNetDaily, November 11, 2009. https://www.wnd.com/2009/11/115687/

[12] “Jihad: A Just Struggle or Unjust Violence? – Zaid Shakir,” IslamOnDemand YouTube channel, March 13, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IjxFVLoPKY&feature=share&list=PL16A2C88FB6FF398A

[13] “Jihad: A Just Struggle or Unjust Violence?—Zaid Shakir.”

[14] Zaid, Imam. “Who Are the Fascists?”New Islamic Directions, October 24, 2007. https://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/who_are_the_fascists/

[15] “Somali Pirates: More of the Same or New Way Ahead,” New Islamic Directions, May 6, 2009. https://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/print/somali_pirates_more_of_the_same_or_a_new_way_ahead/

[16] Zaid, Imam. “Who Are the Fascists?”

[17] “Imam Zaid Shakir—Iraq Crisis,” ilmisfree YouTube channel, May 12, 2012. https://youtu.be/-UGj-FlkOiI

[18] Goodstein, Laurie. “U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground,” New York Times, June 18, 2006. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/us/18imams.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&

[19] Zaid, Imam. “War Chronicle / Peace Plea,” New Islamic Directions, April 30, 2012. https://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/war_chronicle_peace_plea

[20] Campbell, Susan. “From Imam Zaid Shakir,” Hot-Dogma.com, December 19, 2012. https://hot-dogma.com/2012/12/19/from-imam-zaid-shakir/

[21] “Faculty.”

[22] Footage can be viewed at the following link: https://zombietime.com/sf_rally_april_10_2004/movies/SF_4-10-4_Hatem_Bazian1.mov

[23] “Berkeley Prof Slithers on Call for ‘Intifada’ in America,” FrontPage Magazine, May 14, 2004. https://archive.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=13019

[24] “Dr. Fai Reiterates to Continue Work for Kashmir Cause,” Kashmir Media Service, June 25, 2012. https://www.kmsnews.org/news/2012/06/25/dr-fai-reiterates-to-continue-work-for-kashmir-cause.html

[25] “The Irony of Democracy, a Zaytuna Faculty Lecture by Imam Zaid Shakir,” Zaytuna YouTube channel, January 30, 2012. https://youtu.be/INXT5_j_0OM

[26] “The Irony of Democracy—Part 2 by Imam Zaid Shakir,” Zaytuna YouTube channel, March 22, 2012. https://youtu.be/Wztq1KWHVUc

[27] “Between Militarism & Extremism: The Excluded Middle”, Zaytuna YouTube channel, September 28, 2012, https://youtu.be/Jo1z_eSHdHE

[28] Ibid.