Dr. Ismail al-Faruqi was born in Jaffa, Palestine. His father, 'Abd al-Huda al-Faruqi, was an Islamic judge (qadi) and a religious man well-versed in Islamic scholarship. Dr. Faruqi received his religious education at home from his father and in the local mosque. He began to attend the French Dominican College Des Freres (St. Joseph) in 1936.
His first appointment was as a Registrar of Cooperative Societies (1942) under the British Mandate government in Jerusalem, which appointed him in 1945 the district governor of Galilee. When Israel became an independent Jewish state in 1948, Dr. al-Faruqi at first emigrated to Beirut, Lebanon, where he studied at the American University of Beirut, then enrolled the next year at Indiana University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, obtaining his M.A. in philosophy in 1949. He was then accepted for entry into Harvard University's department of philosophy and was awarded his second M.A. in philosophy there in March 1951, with a thesis entitled
Justifying the Good: Metaphysics and Epistemology of Value. However, he decided to return to Indiana University; he submitted his thesis to the department of philosophy and received his Ph.D in September 1952. By then he had a deep-rooted background in classical philosophy and the developing thought of the western tradition.
He then studied Islam at Cairo and other centers of Muslim learning, and Christianity at the Faculty of Divinity, McGill University. He taught at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University; the Central Institute of Islamic Research, Karachi; the Institute of Higher Arabic Studies of the League of Arab States, Cairo University; and al Azhar University, Cairo, and, between 1964 and 1968 was Associate Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, developing a program of Islamic Studies.
From the fall of 1968 he was Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University until his death in 1986.