Sheikh Rizwan Arastu

Shaykh Rizwan was born in 1976 in the UK and moved soon afterward to the US. He completed all of his schooling in South Carolina and graduated from Irmo High School in 1994. He completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University where, in 1998, he received his bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology along with minors in near eastern studies and education. He is also certified in high school and elementary education.

He began his Arabic studies at the renowned Middlebury College Intensive Arabic Program while still a sophomore in university. It was in 2000 that his interest in Islamic studies reached fruition when he headed to Qum, Iran to study at the hawzah (Islamic seminary). He devoted himself to his studies, and had soon completed all the major texts taught in the hawzah in the disciplines of Arabic morphology, syntax, literature, formal logic, jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, theology, and philosophy.

Shaykh Rizwan then turned his full attention toward the study of the Qur’an and traditions of Prophet Muhammad and the Imams.

He memorized much of the Qur’an and began studying the famous Sunni exegesis Anwār al-tanzīl
(Tafsīr al-Bayḍāwī) privately with Shaykh Hameed Ha’iri. This class prepared him to attend the lectures in exegesis of Ayatullah Jawadi Amoli, which he did with great interest. He also began a unique study of Wasāʾil al-shīʿah and Kitāb al-kāfi with Shaykh Dawud Gha’ibi and Shaykh Muhsin Ahmadi, two accomplished students of the late Grand Ayatullah Jawad Tabrizi. In 2006, in conjunction with several of his teachers, Shaykh Rizwan founded the Islamic Texts Institute. He brings to ITI a unique mixture of a strong western and eastern education. His leadership skills, his intensive study of the Arabic language, and his experience with the exegesis of the Qur’an and traditions under the tutelage of accomplished teachers make him a vital asset to the work of ITI, if God wills.

In early 2014, Shaykh Rizwan founded Islamic-Literacy.org, a web-based educational platform that aims to raise the bar on Muslims’ knowledge and practice so all Muslims become Islamically literate.

He is also a faculty at the Ahl al-Bayt Islamic Seminary in Streamwood, IL. He lives with his wife and five children in Elgin, IL.