The Crescent University serves both the national and global needs of Muslims by providing a ground-breaking seat of higher learning to produce new generations of thinking Muslims from all walks of life committed to help shape America’’s global role and to promote Islamic ecumenism and the resulting global Islamic unity. Muslims must become creators rather than consumers of knowledge and technology so that they can become opinion leaders in the broader society.
After 9/11 it became obvious to both Muslims and non-Muslims that moderate Muslims need a reputable institutional voice in the mainstream of intellectual life and in the policy community at all levels of governance. Only by cooperating with the intellectuals and opinion leaders of all faiths can Muslims help strengthen America’’s original vision and values and shape a corresponding agenda for addressing the issues of conscience and concern both in America and around the world. The alternative is continuing confrontation by Muslim radicals steeped in ignorance, extremism, paranoia, hatred, and global terrorism.
The younger generation of the ten-million-strong Muslim population in America, which now produces 100,000 high school graduates a year, can play a critical role in reviewing the classical thought of America’’s founders as well as of the great scholars of Islam. This task of renewing the wisdom of the past in an ecumenical, classical education is necessary to build a world civilization that recognizes the legitimacy of all the world religions within the common paradigm that we might call functional Islam.
The Muslim community in America has now come of age with a critical mass of top scholars and scientists, as well as prosperous professionals and entrepreneurs, to fill the distinctive marketing niche revealed in a Crescent Steering Group poll, which found a strong communal desire for a prestigious Islamic university to rank with the best universities in America. In order to keep it highly selective, professional headhunters will recruit the finest faculty, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and professional marketers will attract the best students. The objective is not to replicate any inward-looking madrassah-style or seminary training but to incubate leaders of forward-looking Muslim generations resinding and working in the West.
Crescent is a true university in the sense of its universal scope and its commitment to exploring frontiers of knowledge together with its peers, such as Harvard and Yale, in the Ivy League. Crescent becomes a bridgehead to the future by stimulating critical Muslim thinking in an atmosphere of scholarly ingenuity, innovative investigation, philosophical diversity, and exploratory erudition.
Visionary in outlook and futuristic in orientation, Crescent exists to revitalize Islamic thought and theology and catalyze authentic spiritual renaissance. Its purpose is to renew in the modern world the enlightenment of early Islam, when scholars and students from across frontiers and faiths pioneered the peerless intellectual freedom and dynamism renowned at Cordoba University in Andalusia and Sankore University in Timbuktu, as well as in Al Azhar in North Africa and similar centers in Southwest Asia. These educational ““Meccas”” pioneered the scientific method in their search primarily for truth. They were copied by Europeans in their search primarily for power. Both East and West now recognize the need for a reinforcing balance.
Crescent, as the first truly comprehensive Islamically-informed university in America, with its twin focus on reason and revelation, scholarship and the sublime, science and religion, and its cutting-edge professional schools, is needed as the principal platform from which a new generation of informed, forward-looking Islamic leadership will emerge to help America meet the challenges of the modern world. By emphasizing the unique epistemological synthesis of scientific exploration and human wisdom, of secular knowledge and sacred understanding, of professional development and moral rearmament, Crescent can revive the Islamic genius in intellectual originality, scientific inquisitiveness, and technological leadership that spawns civilization.
The entire curriculum of Crescent is infused with the total spectrum of secular knowledge and spiritual learning, the timely and the timeless. Its graduate schools in the humanities will excel in everything needed to produce a global ethic by focusing on human responsibilities and rights (the maqasid al shari’’ah) inherent in the overarching Islamic paradigm of justice. This will lead to new frontiers in normative economics, political governance, civic responsibility, and communal altruism, as well as personal morality. These, in turn, will produce and Islamic ethics and an Islamic ethos as a model for the ongoing search in all the world religions.
Crescent’’s bed-rock and all-embracing pluralism provides a haven for all open-minded seekers of truth, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to engage in and on-going process of interfaith dialogue, religio-cultural interaction, and spiritual affirmation, in order to strengthen the pillars of all civilizations in the structure of a global unity in diversity, which is possible today for the first time in human history.
All the religions and denominations in America recognize that their faith and future depend on faith-based education and they all have founded and are maintaing universities that bring to bear their contributions to the mosaic that is America and to the solution of its problems of conscience. Muslims can do no less, particularly because Islam by its very nature is universal and ecumenical and therefore is well-suited for leadership in bringing non-sectarian faith-based wisdom into the ““public square.”” Islam, as developed and applied in America, can and should be a principal force in completing the American Revolution, or, as President Ronald Reagan put it, in launching the Second American Revolution as a non-hegemonic model for the entire world. The Muslim contribution to this task of civilizational renewal can best begin with the founding of Crescent as a world-class Islamic university dedicated to this goal.
The teaching method or pedagogy of Crescent University customizes the world-famous Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge) collegiate and tutorial system in a residential community of scholars and students, with class sizes of 15 to 20 students. Crescent follows the Continental system of comprehensive examinations at the end of the first two years and upon graduation.
The core curriculum is based on the great books of Western civilization, following the successful experiments at the two St. John’’s campuses and at Sarah Lawrence College. The great books at Crescent include those of the Islamic civilization, as part of the broader Islamic, Christian, Jewish civilization, which can become the basis of a pluralist world civilization of the future.
Study abroad, particularly in the professional schools, and mastery of at least two Muslim languages, is encouraged. The Crescent law school, once activated by the year 2010, will offer degrees in both American law and Islamic law and a unique advanced degree in comparative legal systems designed to include both. This latter degree would require intensive study in major Islamic universities of the Muslim world.
Crescent University is egalitarian and co-educational. We expect that women will play crucial roles not only in the student body but in the faculty and in the administration of the university. Crescent restores the Islamic ordinances of gender equity, while respecting, for example, the wisdom of single sex dormitories.
Down-stream projects include a university academic press, convention center, teaching hospital, think-tanks, and an adjacent research complex and business park.