Classes are now underway at the first Muslim university in the country.
School officials say they hope to enroll 2,000 students in ten years. but the first day of classes at Zaytuna College, in Berkeley, Calif, began with just 15 students.
"We have a really healthy mix of different ethnicities which really reflects the Muslim population in the United States," Zaytuna College Vice President Omar Nawaz said.
The college offers bachelors degrees in Islamic law and theology and Arabic language. Administrators said the university is open to students of all faiths, but admits the Koran is the primary book at the school.
"I think Islam needs to be part of everything they do in their lives because Islam teaches them how to treat other people, how to respect people," Nawaz said.
Some contend that a Muslim college is a good addition to American culture.
"If you go back to our country's first principals, it seems totally appropriate that a religious institution be allowed to operate anywhere that's consistent with local zoning regulations," Dolores Dalton, a teaching assistance with the University of California Berkeley, said.
"(I) definitely feel that's good, you know, freedom of religion is in the Constitution, so, I'm for that," U.C. Berkeley student Henrique Fernandez said.
Ironically, the school is holding classes in a building that belongs to a Christian seminary in Berkeley. Officials plan to build a new campus sometime in the near future.
"What you're seeing is we have a lot of support here, and that's really what's great about this country," Nawaz said.
*Originally published on August 26, 2010.