Written by Ellen Keim

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips was born in Jamaica, but grew up in Canada, where he converted to Islam in 1972. His whole life has been exemplified by his goal of seeking an Islamic education and bringing the same educational opportunities to others.

In preparation for this goal, he received his B.A. from the College of Islamic Disciplines at the Islamic University of Medeena (1979), his M.A. in Aqeedah (Islamic Theology) from the King Saud University in Riyadh (1985), and his Ph.D. in Islamic Theology from the University of Wales (1994).

After graduation from the University of Medeena, Dr Bilal spent ten years teaching Islamic studies in an Islamic high school in Riyadh, and another ten years lecturing in Arabic and Islamic studies in the American University in Dubai, UAE.

In 1994 he founded the Islamic Information Center in Dubai (now known as Discover Islam). He has served as the head of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Preston University-Ajman, UAE; lecturer and director of the Da’wah and Education at Qatar Guest Center, Doha, Qatar; and the founder and head of the English-medium Islamic studies department of Knowledge International University, the College of Da’wah and Islamic Culture (English Section) at Omdurman Islamic University, Sudan, and Preston International College in Chennai, India. He is currently the Dean of the Islamic Studies Academy in Doha.

But perhaps his greatest achievement, and the one for which he was listed in the the Jordanian publication, The 500 Most Influential Muslims (rissc.jo/muslim500v-1L.pdf ), is the founding of Islamic Online University. Unlike the other educational programs he has founded and overseen, IOU makes it possible for any person from any location in the world to receive an Islamic education absolutely free.

IOU has been in the making for over a decade. It originally opened in 2001, but had to shut down for technological restructuring. It reopened in 2007 with its free diploma program and introduced its fully accredited tuition-free Bachelor’s program (BAIS) in 2010. Beginning in the Spring 2013 semester, in preparation for the opening of the Master’s program (MAIS), the “Higher Diploma” opened which is the bridge between a BA/BSc in other than Islamic Studies to the MAIS.

Dr. Bilal has served as IOU’s dean from the beginning. He travels extensively to bring the message of Islam and offer the prospect of Islamic education to the world. So far this year he has traveled to and spoken to IOU Students and those interested in IOU in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Dr Bilal Philips has also written, translated and commented on over 50 published books on various Islamic topics. He has also edited and published the 56-book Eemaan Reading Series for children and presented Islamic programs for a number of years on Riyadh Channel 2TV, Sharjah TV, Peace TV, Huda TV, Islam Channel, UK, and the Deen Show, Chicago, USA.

His vision for the future is to spread the news about IOU all over the world. To accomplish this goal he relies heavily on volunteers and donations. Everywhere he goes he encourages people to search their hearts for ways that they can contribute to this worthy cause.

IOU needs representatives and liaisons in every corner of the world. It can use donations of computers and Internet access (some people are meeting in group classes around one computer!) and people who are willing to tutor prospective students in English (all the classes, except for advanced Arabic courses, are taught in English). And now that it has launched its online magazine, IOU Insights, it can also use people with computer, editing, and writing skills to make it a success.

But most of all Dr. Bilal needs others who share his vision to help spread the word about IOU. Anyone who has a blog, a Facebook or Twitter account, access to masjids and Islamic organizations, and writing and speaking skills can tell others about this unprecedented opportunity to learn about our Creator and the Islamic way of life.

May Allah be with Dr. Bilal, the faculty and the staff of IOU as well as everyone who contributes in any way to the growth of IOU’s programs as they carry out this important work.




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9 replies on “A Man with a Mission: Dr. Bilal Philips”

  • Indiyako@yahoo.com'
    October 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    SubhanAllah! Sheikh Bilal is a great gift to us Muslims. I, personally don’t know any one around the globe doing so much for islam and Muslims. May the almighty Allah give you long life, health and increase your eeman to continue doing what you are doing. May you be rewarded with Janna firdhaus. InshAllah, I will continue telling people about IOU. JazakhAllahu Khairan.

  • leapie29@hotmail.com'
    Fahmeena Nahas
    October 5, 2013 at 5:24 am

    I wanted to learn to recite the Qur’an correctly. I wanted to learn Arabic. I wanted to acquire correct and authentic Islamic knowledge. I cried and prayed to Allaah Subhan wa ta’ala to help me and I came across the IOU website.

    Sitting in the north-east corner of Bangladesh, sitting at home at my own computer, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to get what I wanted.


    May Allaah reward Sheikh Bilal in this world and the next for his efforts. May Allaah reward all my teachers in this world and the next for their efforts. May Allaah reward all my fellow students in this world and the next for their efforts.

    I’m proud to be an IOUan.

  • alimamgold@gmail.com'
    October 5, 2013 at 6:18 am

    May Allah be with him , protect him all the time and the Muslim ummah.

    Baraka llahu fikun

    Pls I want to know when to start the M.A program please.

  • kidsnfamily03@gmail.com'
    Aisha Zaheer
    October 5, 2013 at 6:57 am

    MAsha Allah,Very Inspiring.May Allah reward him for all his efforts in the propagation of true knowledge. Ameen… And may Allah make us to follow his example, Ameen.

  • ayinjaye@gmail.com'
    October 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I’m personally short of word to describe this great success from a successful daa’iyah like Dr. Bilal. My passion is being fulfilled.
    I pray Allaah to preserve the founder and the institution.
    أقول من صميم قلبي: نفخر بــك يـا شــيخــنا, وجــزاكم الله خـــيرًا, وأحـياك الله بالعافية

  • aanch786@hotmail.com'
    October 7, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Dr. Ameenullah Bilal is welknown to me as I have seen & listen his valuable & informative Islamic Lectures on PEACE TV. He is great son of Islam. May Al-Mighty ALLAH TA’ALA bless him with health & prosperity to preach Islam Teachings all the time.
    With Regards

  • ridwanulai@gmail.com'
    December 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Dr. Bilal is a great achiever. May Allah (SWT) protect him. amin

  • frederick-polanco@gmail.com'
    December 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on
    everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many options out
    there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Cheers!

    • annussa48@gmail.com'
      Justice Amin Labana
      July 7, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Now that I have known the respected Brother in Islam: Dr Billal Phillps, am really touched and inspired to do something before I return to ALLAH. It is my prayer that my iman should be on the increase so that my acts be in line with ALLAH’S expectations.
      May ALLAH bless Dr Billal Phillips, give him more and more time to live with us and that we should be able to cherish his existence.