Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips is a Jamaican Canadian Islamic Scholar who converted to Islam in the early seventies after journeying politically and intellectually from Christianity to Communism. Shortly after his reversion to Islam he embarked on a spiritual academic journey to the other side of the world seeking Islamic knowledge. This journey took him to Saudi Arabia where he completed a BA in Islamic studies in Madeenah and an MA in Islamic Theology in Riyadh then to the University of Wales UK where he completed a PhD in Islamic Theology in the early nineties.
After graduation from Madeenah Dr Bilal became a teacher of Islamic studies for 10 years in an Islamic High School Manaret Riyadh and a lecturer of Arabic and Islamic studies in the American University in Dubai UAE for another 10 years. During his 10 years in the UAE he founded and taught at the Islamic Information Center in Dubai and during his subsequent 7 years in Qatar he has been an Islamic consultant and lecturer for the Islamic Information wing of Sh. Eed Charity.
Dr Bilal Philips has 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 for ten years as well as Peace TV Huda TV Islam Channel UK and the Deen Show Chicago USA.
In 2002 Dr Philips founded and headed the Islamic studies department of Preston University Ajman UAE and in 2007 he founded and headed the Islamic Studies Academy Doha Qatar while simultaneously launching the Islamic Online University (www.islamiconlineuniversity.com) which is currently offering free Islamic courses to over 100000 registered students from over 207 different countries world wide and for which he was included in the Jordanian publication The 500 Most Influential Muslims (latest edition).
Dr Bilal subsequently founded and headed in 2008 the English medium Islamic studies department of Knowledge International University who’s Chancellor is Shaikh Dr. ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn ‘Abdil-Azeez Al Sudais and who’s President of the board of trustees is Shaikh ‘Abdul-Azeez ibn ‘Abdullah Al Shaikh Mufti of Saudi Arabia. More recently in 2009 Dr Bilal Philips founded and headed the College of Da’wah and Islamic Culture (English Section) Omdurman Islamic University Sudan and established and directed Preston International College (www.prestonchennai.ac.in) in Chennai India.
In March 2010 Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips launched for the first time in history an accredited tuition-free BA in Islamic Studies degree course at the Islamic Online University based on a modified curriculum derived from those of the Islamic University of Madeenah Saudi Arabia; Omdurman Islamic University Sudan; and Al-Azhar University Egypt. This path-breaking initiative utilizes the worldwide presence of the Internet and advanced open source online learning technology to bring low-cost university level education within reach of anyone on the planet who has access to a computer and the Internet.
In 2013 global accreditation was given to the IOU as the government of Somalia’s Ministry of Higher Education has granted a university license to the Islamic Online University adding it to its list of accredited universities in Somalia which are recognized by the UN and therefore recognized globally. The same year the Islamic Online University in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and the General Secretariat for Islamic and Arabic Education (Amanah) launched a pilot Intensive English language course for the madrasah graduates in The Gambia to meet the immediate needs of the madrasah graduates enabling them to pursue higher education. The program is now being offered in three different countries namely The Gambia Somalia and Guinea Bissau.
In 2014 The IOU has been granted a university license and accreditation from the Ministry of Education Culture and Higher Education in Guinea-Bissau; as well as a license to operate an online university in The Gambia from The Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology in The Gambia.
Moreover in the same year the IOU introduced new departments: Department of Education; Department of Islamic Economics Banking and Finance; and Department of Psychology. All departments offer BA degree Diploma or Certificate programs to choose from. In addition a new department of Arabic Language and Linguistics has been launched offering a 2-year Intensive Arabic program. The IOU also introduced a BA in Islamic Studies in Russian language; Ijaza program; and a prison initiative. Thus the IOU has a single virtual campus for all its accredited programs hosted on its own dedicated server.
The IOU opened new programs: for the youth the Youth Dual Credit Program (YDCP) which offers the youth the opportunity to enroll in courses at the Islamic Online University for educational enrichment; and for those who do not hold a high school diploma the Open Education Program which enables the students without a high school diploma to join the various university level programs at the IOU and receive accredited diplomas upon successful completion of the required courses.
In addition the IOU has become a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) founded in 1938 in Canada as the International Council for Correspondence Education and today the ICDE is the leading global membership organization for open distance flexible and online education including e-learning with members from 60 countries representing every continent.
Also in 2015 tuition-free online Master in Islamic Studies program has been launched.
Alhamdulillah although the IOU has begun in 2007 with 1500 students only by the end of 2008 the number of registered students has tripled reaching 4500. Currently right at the beginning of May 2015 Allah has blessed the IOU with a student body of 200000+ students from over 224 different countries.