Publisher’s Point: If H.R. 5 Passes, Must Zaytuna College Comply?

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Recently, a bill passed in the US House of Representatives that would cause the sexual revolution begun in the ‘60s to move even closer to completion. In my view, the resulting moral chaos would ultimately ensure the collapse of our country. If passed, H.R. 5 would grant (under what would be essentially an amended and expanded 1964 Civil Rights Act) anyone who identifies as any number of genders on any given day for any period of time special constitutional protection.

Enter the potential Zaytuna College “zeitgeist.” Zaytuna College is the first accredited Muslim college in America, and is located near Berkeley in California. It started in 1996 as the Zaytuna Institute, and received its accreditation in 2015 from the same association that accredits Stanford University. It does not participate in government student financial aid programs, and it is Sunni in terms of its denominational approach to Islamic doctrine. Zaytuna students have to sign what is essentially a contract with the college each year they are enrolled promising that they will abide by a strict six-point behavioral, academic, and moral code. Moreover, they agree to face expulsion if they don’t comply. Below is from the Zaytuna College Honor Code:

The sixth principle requires sobriety and restraint. This means that alcohol, drugs, gambling and inappropriate relationships and behaviors are categorically forbidden. Restraint from aggressive speech and behavior, including dangerous or reckless behavior, is essential for the Zaytuna student.

So, what is the “zeitgeist” here? The word is a compound German term which literally means “time spirit.” It is defined as the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.”

And therein lies the rub. Who gets to determine the “defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time?” It is no secret that officially Islam only considers heterosexual behavior to be pleasing to Allah, a position that has been consistent throughout the ages. So, if a “progressive, woke” Zaytuna student, whose gender assigned at birth was male, wanted to wear a burqa and live in a female dorm, would the college have to comply under the so-called Equality Act? Could the Zaytuna College admissions board refuse to accept such a one as a student in the first place? And if they did, what would happen? Would there be arrests? Dismissals? A loss of accreditation, and they’d have to go back to just being The Zaytuna Institute?

What if gay Muslim men (and in America, that is actually possible) want to attend Zaytuna as a married couple? Same-sex marriage is legal in California, and they could demonstrate that they are in fact, lawfully married. Would the Quran and the hadiths be allowed to prevail in their condemnation of same-sex activity, in or out of a civilly lawful context, or would the expanded Civil Rights Act trump the First Amendment?

While we are at it, what happens to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act if H.R. 5 gets passed in the Senate? And lastly, why did the three Muslim members of Congress, i.e., Representative André Carson, Representative Ilhan Omar, and passionately anti-Trump Rep. Rashida Tlaib (who, upon getting elected, promised in front of her son to go to DC and “impeach the motherf—-r”)—why did they vote for a bill that potentially flies in the face of all they supposedly hold dear? At the very least, a younger Rashida might have decided that she wouldn’t have been a good fit as a Zaytuna student. After all, they insist that students refrain from “aggressive speech and behavior,” as is their First Amendment right as educators.  May H.R. 5 die in the Senate because senators upheld their vow to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.