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Texans Turn out to Support Berkeley's Zaytuna College

Nation's first Muslim college seeks 'Holy Hill' property.

A sold-out benefit in Houston Saturday for Berkeley's Zaytuna College will enable the country's first Muslim college to buy property on Berkeley's "Holy Hill."

Some 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is part of a nationwide fundraising campaign. Now in the process of accreditation, Zaytuna works with UC Berkeley informally and uses its library.

Zaytuna has partnered with the Houston-based Risala Foundation for the past few years, bringing speakers to address the American Muslim experience. They include Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, who helped found the school in 2009 with Hatem Bazian. The school grew out of a pilot seminary program that launched in 2004 as the Zaytuna Institute.

"They realize we're young, we're American," Houstonian Zeyn Patel told the Houston Chronicle. "We tend to attract 25- to 40-year-old young professionals, people who had shied away from a traditional Islamic experience because of the 'back home baggage.' "

The identify more strongly as Americans than their foreign-born parents and are more inclined to support American charities, he said.

The campaign's fundraising goal for closing escrow is $7 million out of a total target of $19 million, according to the school's website.

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