About Us

Islamic Online University

Dean: Dr. Bilal Philips, Founder and Chancellor, Islamic Online University

Student body, 2015: 180,000+

The Islamic Online University (IOU) is the brainchild of Dr. Bilal Philips. He envisioned an institution that would offer online, intensive, undergraduate and graduate courses completely tuition-free.  


History and Development of the Islamic Online University 

The Islamic Online University is originally a product of Dr. Bilal's teaching courses in Islamic Studies at the American University, Dubai, for seven years after updating and modifying the complete curriculums of study for the college of education of the Sharif Kabunsuan College in Cotabato City, Mindanao, Philippines, in the early nineties.

One year after the IOU's establishment in 2001, the program ran into technical difficulties and had to shut down; however, the material developed for its courses was used to establish a department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Preston University, Ajman, UAE, and three years later, the department had its first batch of BA graduates.



The Islamic Online University, Qatar, has launched with completely free diploma courses, which are today available at the General Diploma in Islamic Studies section.



The IOU introduced the world’s first tuition-free, online Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies 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.

Hence, the IOU is operating on two separate virtual campuses: the degree campus and the diploma campus. Each campus is hosted on its own dedicated server.



The year of 2013 has brought a global accreditation 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.

Furthermore, the IOU has begun to broadcast to the virtual world via Insights TV; television station dedicated to broadcasting free Islamic knowledge across the world. And also in the same year, the IOU’s magazine Insights and the Global Qur’an Memorization Center were successfully launched.

Later on, 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.


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. The membership can be verified here. Also in 2015, tuition-free, online Master in Islamic Studies program has been launched.

Throughout the years, the IOU has concluded and signed various memorandums of understanding with different universities and higher education institutions in different parts of the world, which can be viewed in detail at our page Accreditation.


Alhamdulillah, although the IOU has begun in 2007 with 1,500 students only, by the end of 2008, the number of registered students has tripled, reaching 4,500. Currently, right at the beginning of 2015, Allah has blessed the IOU with a student body of 180,000+ students from over 224 different countries.