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What's Being Taught in California at Zaytuna College

by Ryan Mauro

On May 12, a lecture was posted on YouTube by Imam Zaid Shakir, a co-founder and faculty member at Zaytuna College, America’s first Islamic college, which is based in California. The lecture, titled "Iraq in Crisis," is from 2003 and teaches that the U.S. government is waging a war on Islam and is systematically persecuting innocent Muslims.

Shakir opens up by urging the audience to “take advantage of our positions as Muslims in [America]” and alleges that the U.S. invaded Iraq as part of a war on Islam because the religion is “the largest source of opposition” to those serving a “narrow agenda.” Later, he says that the war is led by a small group who want to stamp out Islam.

He refers to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement that the U.S. won’t allow Iraq to be run by clerics like in Iran as proof that the U.S. is opposed to a “religious state.” He characterizes the U.S. mission there in the worst possible terms, accusing the military of indiscriminately harming Iraqi civilians with depleted uranium and advanced explosives while allowing hospitals and museums to be looted.

His main point is that “we [Muslims] are all in this together” and that the oppression of Muslims in Iraq is no different than the oppression of Muslims in America. He accuses the government of arresting Muslims because “they just want a pretext to get another Muslim off the street.” In his conclusion, he tells the audience that “we’re under an onslaught” that will only get worse.

Shakir (shown right) cautions against “jihad fever” and says Muslim-Americans are to wage a different kind of jihad than in Iraq. The “best form of jihad,” he said, is “truth in the face of a tyrannical ruler.” Muslims in the U.S. must build institutions to defend Muslims and help Muslims overseas, he says, especially ones involved in education and media. The absence of this institution-building leads to wasted efforts.

He did not condemn violent jihad against the U.S. military overseas. He was just arguing that this institution-building (or, in the words of the Muslim Brotherhood, “civilizational jihad”) must supplement that type of jihad. In another lecture, he preached that violence against U.S. soldiers, such as hijacking a plane full of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, is justifiable.

Shakir takes a softer tone in the videotaped lectures posted on the Zaytuna College’s YouTube channel. In one titled,  "The Irony of Democracy," posted on January 30, 2012, he teaches that all political rule inevitably leads to control by a small elite that doesn’t represent the population. This includes the U.S. He tells his students that a “small oligarchy” runs the country, particularly the media and the electoral system. As proof of the latter, he recalls the “selection of 2000” that brought President George W. Bush into office.

In Part 2, posted on March 22, Shakir recommends that a Muslim political agenda include “the enforcement of anti-defamation statutes” to protect minorities from bigotry. The impact this would have is that if any citizen uses a phrase like “radical Islam” and a group like CAIR says he or she is spreading hate, charges could be brought against the person. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has made outlawing criticisms of Islam through anti-blasphemy laws a top priority. And remember, even Zuhdi Jasser, an anti-Islamist Muslim, has been accused by such groups of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.

Zaytuna College offers only two majors: Arabic Language and Islamic Law and Theology. Is this the type of Islam we want our next generation of Muslim students to be taught?

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

For more on Imam Zaid Shakir, see our earlier expose, What an Islamic Icon is Teaching American Youth.