Fazlur Rahman was born September 21, 1919, in what is today Pakistan. His early education was in Islamic schools followed by an M.A. degree from Punjab University, Lahore, in 1942, with a First Class in Arabic. He was awarded the D. Phil. degree by Oxford University in 1949 for his thesis, Avecenna's Psychology.
He was lecturer in Persian Studies and Islamic Philosophy at Durham University from 1950-1958. In 1958, he was appointed Associate Professor in the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University in Montreal, where he remained until 1961. In 1962, he was named Director of the Central Institute of Islamic Research in Pakistan and
continued in that capacity until 1968.
In 1969, he was appointed Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Chicago and in 1987 the University made him Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in recognition of his contributions to scholarship.