Message of Condolence by the Islamic Research and Information Center (IRIC) on the Occasion of Passing Away of Professor Mahmoud Ayoub

Message of Condolence by the Islamic Research and Information Center (IRIC) on the Occasion of Passing Away of Professor Mahmoud Ayoub

Message of Condolence by the Islamic Research and Information Center (IRIC) on the Occasion of Passing Away of Professor Mahmoud Ayoub

Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, a prominent Shia scholar and Honorary Faculty Associate in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford International University, passed away on Oct. 31 in Montreal, Canada, where he lived for the past several years.

Professor Ayoub spearheaded the establishment of Imam Ali Chair for Shia Studies and Dialogue Among Islamic Schools of Thought. This is the first chair for Shia studies in North America, a lasting legacy for Dr. Ayoub’s long and successful career.

Dr. Ayoub was born in 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 received his education at the American University of Beirut (BA, Philosophy, 1964), the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Religious Thought, 1966), and Harvard University (Ph.D., History of Religion, 1975).

His doctoral dissertation, Redemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of Ashura’ in Twelver Shiism in the Middle Ages turned into a book that still stands as a classic in the field.

From 1988 to 2008, Dr. Ayoub was a Professor and Director of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. Over his career, he also taught at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, San Diego State University, the University of Toronto, and McGill University, among others.

During the early 1990s, he supervised a group project to translate Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, a monumental contemporary commentary on the Qurʾān by the late Mohammad-Hossein Ṭabāṭabāʾī from Arabic into English. Although that project was never finished, it gave birth to Dr. Ayoub’s two-volume commentary on the early sūras of the Qurʾān.

In 1998, Dr. Ayoub helped devise and launch a graduate M.A. level program in Muslim-Christian relations and comparative religion for the Centre for Christian-Muslim Studies, University of Balamand, Lebanon.

After decades of working in leading universities nationwide, Professor Ayoub found a welcoming home at the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary — now Hartford International University for Religion and Peace.  Professor Ayoub and his wife, Linda Clark lived on campus, attended educational events where Dr. Ayoub often offered insightful commentary, and frequently welcomed students, alumni, faculty, and staff into their home.

Throughout his academic career, Professor Ayoub has received distinguished awards and scholarships, both for his achievements and research. Among others, he was a recipient of the Kent Doctoral Fellowship and the Canada Council Fellowship. In 1994-1995, he participated in the Fulbright Exchange of Scholars program for Malaysia. In the Spring-Summer of 2000, he undertook a research project on Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt and Lebanon, also on a Fulbright scholarship.

Published works: 

  • Redemptive Suffering in Islam (1978)
  • The Qur’an and Its Interpreters – Volume I (1984)
  • The Qur’an and Its Interpreters – Volume II (1992)
  • Islam: Faith and History (2005)
  • A Muslim View of Christianity: Essays On Dialogue (2007)
  • The Crisis of Muslim History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam (2014)
  • Dirasat fi al-‘Alaqat al-Masihiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Arabic

In addition, his articles have appeared in books and journals such as:

  • The Muslim World, Journal of the American Oriental Society
  • Bulletin of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies (Tokyo)
  • Islamochristiana (Rome, Italy).

Dr. Ayoub’s authority in both the scholarship and comparative study of Islam and Muslim-Christian relations, as well as interreligious dialogue, is demonstrated by the national and international recognition he has received worlwide.

At the Islamic Research and Information Center, we would like to express our sincere condolences to the Islamic society as a whole and, in particular, to Dr. Ayoub’s family, friends and academic associates on the sorrowful loss of Professor Mahmoud Ayoub and ask Allah, Almighty for extending His grace and blessings to his soul.

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