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Mahmoud M. Ayoub is a Lebanese scholar and professor of religious and inter-faith studies.

Mahmoud M. Ayoub
Born1935 (age 83–84)
United States
OccupationProfessor, Writer, Board member
Board member ofEditorial Board, Journal, Islam and Christian Muslim Relations.[1]
Academic background
Alma mater
Harvard University, History of Religion, (Ph.D. 1975)
ThesisRedemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of ‘Ashura’ in Twelver Shi’ism (1975)
Doctoral advisorAnnemarie Schimmel
Academic work
DisciplineProfessor of Islamic Studies
Sub-disciplineChristian-Muslim Relations
Main interestsReligious studies; Christian-Islamic relations


Early lifeEdit

Mahmoud was born into a devout Muslim family in 1935 at Ain Qana (South Lebanon), a small town with an integrated religious population. His upbringing was socially integrated with events and people from both the Islamic and Christian religious faiths. Mahmoud Ayoub attended a British Presbyterian missionary school for the blind as a child. He described his experience in that school noting that "the school authorities did not really have an educational programme for us, what they wanted to do mainly was to make us Christians and of course they did and that created a lot of tension between me and my family and particularly my father."[4] He would later join an American Southern Baptist Church seeking a more zealous approach of reaching others with the Gospel.[4] During his university studies, he would eventually revert to Islam.[4]


After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the American University of Beirut in 1964, he moved to America to complete a Masters of Arts in Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966 and then a Doctorate in History of Religion from Harvard University in 1975. It was during his studies he resolved returning to Islam as his mother and father had wished for.[4][5]


Mr. Ayoub is currently Faculty Associate of Shi’ite Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Co-Director at the Duncan Black MacDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations for Hartford Seminary at Georgetown University.[5]

From 1988 to 2008, Mahmoud was Professor and Director of Islamic Studies at the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia, an Adjunct Professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, a Research Fellow at the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a Tolson visiting professor at the Pacific School of Religion at Berkeley University.[5]

In 1998, Dr. Ayoub helped develop and start a graduate Masters of Art level program in Muslim-Christian relations and comparative religion for the Centre for Christian-Muslim Studies at the University of Balamand in Lebanon. Mr. Ayoub has also taught at San Diego State University, the University of Toronto and McGill University.[5]

Published workEdit

Mahmoud Ayoub is author of various books and publications, some of which are:

  • Redemptive Suffering In Islam (1978) ISBN 978-9027979438
  • The Qur'an and Its Interpreters - Volume I (1984) ISBN 978-0791465226
  • The Qur'an and Its Interpreters - Volume II (1992) ISBN 978-0791409947
  • Islam: Faith and History (2005) ISBN 978-1851683482
  • A Muslim View Of Christianity: Essays On Dialogue (2007) ISBN 978-1570756900
  • The Crisis Of Muslim History: Religion And Politics In Early Islam (2014) ISBN 978-1851683963

Theological positionEdit

Mahmoud Ayoub promotes a moderate interpretation and understanding of Islamic theology.

A 2006 article about Muslim cab drivers and their adherence to the various religious rules and keeping the letter of the laws of Islam, when speaking to cab drivers transporting customers having alcoholic products, Ayoub is quoted saying "I know many Muslims who own gas stations [alcohol is prohibited in Islam] and sell ham sandwiches [pork is prohibited in Islam]. They justify it and I think rightly so; that they have to make a living."[6]

In 2013 when responding to questions about ISIS/ISIL, Ayoub dismissed them as contrary to Islam, stating that extremism has always been a problem in the religion, noting that Islam is unique among faiths in that it was founded as both a religion and a state. Mahmoud clarified the ideal dynamic would be a balance between the two with the state remaining in ultimate control. He further stated that from Islam's earliest beginnings, some have challenged that balance and sought to impose brutal theocracies, citing one group early in Islamic history that acted much like ISIS, trying to found a theocracy and killing all those who resisted or disagreed with it. "My view is the action of ISIS is not unique. Extremism appears in every epoch of Islam."[7]

At a lecture in 2013 at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, Ayoub said at the heart of the Islamic moral system is love, the basis for peace. In quoting a passage from the Hadith (collected sayings of Muhammad): "No one of you will be a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."[8]

In a 2014 article in The Jewish Exponent regarding religious observations, Ayoub's words are quoted “Repentance may be regarded as the cornerstone of religious life of both the individual and society.”[9]

In the mediaEdit

In 2009 Ayoub voiced his opinion regarding the idea of a U.S. Muslim college, believing Muslims are better off attending established American schools, saying U.S. Muslims badly need a seminary since there are none in the country: "I don't know that I would send my child to go to a college where they can only learn tradition. Young people have to live, I like mixing people. I don't like ghettos."[10]

On 24 March 2015 the Peace Islands Institute brought together Mahmoud M. Ayoub and Neset Ulusal of Quinnipiac University for a discussion entitled "Muslim Voices Against Extremism".[11]

In a 2015 article Mahmoud's work was mentioned as helping develop a scholarly approach to inter-faith relations between Islam and Christianity.[12]

In 2016 Mr. Ayoub was mentioned being the “driving force behind establishing the chair and raising money for it” regarding the first academic chair in North America dedicated to Shi’i studies at Hartford to help complimenting and contrasting dialogue balancing the predominant Sunni view of Islamic thought.[13]


In 2008 Professor Mahmoud Ayoub was instrumental in persuading the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) into donating $1.5 million for the Temple University Seminary chair office. This effort was met with warnings from David Horowitz claiming the IIIT group had funded terrorism and having terrorist ties. After the university seemed unable to publicly respond with an open acceptance or rejection of the donation, the IIIT withdrew its offer in December of that year. Although IIIT had been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Homeland Security after the domestic terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, no charges were brought against their organization.[14]


In 2012, Mr. Ayoub received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).[15]

Mahmoud has received a Kent Doctoral Fellowship, a Fulbright scholarship and a Canada Council Fellowship.[4][16][5]


  1. ^ "Mahmoud Ayoub (Faculty Associate in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations)" (PDF). Hartford University. p. 1. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Mahmoud Ayoub (Faculty Associate in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations)" (PDF). Hartford University. p. 11. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  3. ^ Staff (3 April 2013). "Entrepreneurship Faculty Member Named Fulbright Specialist". University of Missouri - Kansas City. Retrieved 31 August 2018. Distinguished Fulbright Specialist participants include Mahmoud Ayoub...
  4. ^ a b c d e Siddiqui, Ataullah (1997). "Mahmoud Ayoub (1935—)". Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century; Mahmoud Ayoub (1935—). Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 97–98. doi:10.1057/9780230378230_5. ISBN 0230378234.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life; Mahmoud Ayoub". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Georgetown University. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  6. ^ Dorell, Oren (11 October 2006). "Cabbies, culture clash at Minn. airport". USA Today. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Christopher (15 December 2014). "Scholars: ISIS Abhorent To Islam Followers". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  8. ^ Campbell, Kay (23 October 2013). "Muhammad taught 'middle way;' peace is theme of Quran, says Islamic prof at Oakwood University". Huntsville, Alabama. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  9. ^ Schwartzman, Bryan (9 September 2014). "Repenting — Not Just for Rosh Hashanah". The Jewish Exponent. Philadelphia. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Scholars Plan U.S.' First Four-Year Accredited Islamic College". Fox News. Plainsboro, New Jersey. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  11. ^ Stannard, Ed (14 March 2015). "Connecticut chapter of Peace Islands Institute promotes peace by bringing people together". New Haven Register. New Haven, Connecticut. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  12. ^ Gertz, Steve (8 December 2015). "Let Muslims Wish You Merry Christmas". Huffington Post Opinion. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Hartford Seminary establishes first Shi'i chair in North America; Historic Post Will Encourage Dialogue Between Sunnis and Shi'as" (Press release). Hartford, Connecticut: Religion Press Release Service. Religion News Service. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  14. ^ Gordon, Lewis R. (February 2008). "Volume 38, Number 3". Faculty Herald. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  15. ^ Agron, Belica (13 October 2012). "Professor Mahmoud Ayoub Receives 2012 Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Institute of Islamic Thought". Salem News. Boston / Hartford. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  16. ^ "International Institute of Islamic Thought - Professor Mahmoud Ayoub". International Institute of Islamic Thought. Retrieved 31 August 2018. He participated in the Fulbright Exchange of Scholars program for Malaysia in 1994-5. In the Spring-Summer of 2000, he undertook a research project on Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt and Lebanon, also on a Fulbright scholarship.

External linksEdit