Living Links

Linking Our Community to a Living Tradition

Living Links is a Zaytuna College educational initiative that seeks to revive two traditions: the time-tested Islamic tradition of conveying religious knowledge from teachers to students through sound chains of transmission, and Zaytuna’s own tradition as an American Muslim institution committed to community-based learning.

The Living Links courses, all taught by Zaytuna College faculty, are part of the Zaytuna Honors Program but are also open to the local community in the San Francisco Bay Area. The classes aim to restore the experience of a traditional circle of knowledge, a model once prevalent throughout the Muslim world. Another key element of classical Muslim learning was memorization, and each Living Links course has a core text that honors students are expected to memorize.

One of the great wisdoms of the Islamic tradition is that learning involves more than the mere transfer of information from the lines of books to the student. It also involves human hearts connecting with one another, and the transfer of states of being. Zaytuna’s Living Links program affirms what Muslim scholars have always said: “Knowledge is to be found in the hearts of humans, not in the lines of books.”

Living Links classes are open at no cost to the San Francisco Bay Area community, as well as to an online audience through live-streamed broadcasts. Classes will be held at Zaytuna College, 2401 Le Conte Ave. in Berkeley. Please sign up here for live-stream alerts.

Fall 2015 / Spring 2016 Courses

Introduction to Islamic Virtue Ethics

Instructor: Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
Text: The sections on tasawwuf from Matn Al-Murshid al-Mu`in and Matn al-Zubad
Saturdays: 10am–11:15am PST
Sept 12 through Dec 5 (no classes Sept 26, Nov 15, 21, 28)
Jan 30 through Apr 30 (no classes Mar 12, 19, 26)

Al-Murshid Al-Mu’in, a classic text by Ibn ‘Ashir (1040 AH/1630 CE), the seventeenth century Moroccan scholar, covers three pivotal topics: creed, ritual, and virtue ethics. This course will cover the third of these topics, virtue ethics. The goal of virtue ethics is to teach us how to be good at “being” human. Virtue ethics assumes that mastery over the dangerous aspects of one’s appetitive and intellectual powers is necessary in order for a person to perfect his or her humanity. In this course, students learn about the cardinal vices and virtues, the difference between acts and dispositions, the treatment for vice, the pursuit of virtue, repentance, forgiveness, spiritual formation under the guidance of another, and many other lessons related to perfecting our humanity.

Abdullah bin Hamid Ali is a graduate of the University of al-Qarawiyin in Fes, Morocco, and a doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. At Zaytuna, he teaches classes on Islamic law, theology, and hadith.

Quranic Exegesis (tafsir) of Surah al-Kahf

Instructor: Faraz Khan
Text: Surah al-Kahf
Sept 12 through Dec 5 (no classes Sept 26, Nov 15, 21, 28)
Jan 30 through Apr 30 (no classes Mar 12, 19, 26)

Based on classical works of exegesis and spirituality in the Islamic tradition, authored by Imams al-Baydawi, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Ibn Ajiba and others, this course introduces students to a study of Surah al-Kahf, the eighteenth chapter of the Holy Qur'an. According to sound reports from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Surah al-Kahf is a source of great illumination for those who regularly recite it, as well as a protection against the Anti-Christ (dajjal) who emerges at the end of time. The stories addressed in this blessed surah include those of the people of the cave, the man with two gardens, the journey of Prophet Moses and Khidr (peace be upon them), and Dhul-Qarnayn. The ethical lessons in these stories apply to both the individual and society as a whole, centering on principles of sacrifice, altruism, humility, the pursuit of knowledge, and ultimately, the remembrance of God Most High.

Faraz Khan has studied the traditional Islamic sciences in Amman, Jordan. He directs Zaytuna College's Honors Program and teaches classes on theology, logic, and prophetic biography.

About the Honors Program

These weekend courses are one component of the Zaytuna College Honors Program. Zaytuna College students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree in Islamic Law and Theology are offered an Honors Program through which they complete additional courses beyond those required for the degree. The Honors Program consists of an extensive memorization component and a Senior Thesis that demonstrates mastery of a subject through research, writing, and a public presentation. The College offers weekly sessions for students in the Honors Program to study the texts that are being memorized. These sessions are also open for enrichment to students not enrolled in the Honors Program.

Living Links Questions