Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Imam Arafat attended Damascus University and graduated with a degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in 1987 and a degree in Islamic Law in 1988. From 1975 to 1989 under the guidance and mentorship of the late Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, he studied Quranic interpretation, wisdom of the "Shari'ah" and the Islamic spiritual teachings. From 1989 to 1997, he accompanied the Grand Mufti during most of his international programs and conferences.
He served as Imam in Damascus from 1981 to 1989 and was then invited to the United States to lecture in various Islamic Centers. He was Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Maryland from 1989 to 1993, founded An-Nur Institute for Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in Baltimore in 1993, co-founded An-Nur Mosque in Carney, Maryland and was the Imam from 1995 to 1997. Currently he is President of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland, based in Baltimore.
He taught courses on Islamic Studies at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University, the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC), Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, the Renaissance Institute, as well as Comparative Religions at Potomac College in Washington, DC. Currently he is teaching at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
He served as Campus Imam at Johns Hopkins University from 1993 to October 2003, Adjunct Chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2000 to October 2003, and Muslim Chaplain for Baltimore City Police Department from 1998 to 2006.
Since moving to Baltimore in 1989, he has been heavily involved with interfaith work, both nationally and internationally, promoting better understanding between Muslims and other Faith Traditions. Among the recent seminars and conferences he has participated in are:
Imam Arafat is the Founder and President of Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF), which functions as an umbrella to bring people together for exchanges aimed at creating a better world that promotes peace and cooperation.
Currently CECF provides religious & cultural training, consultation, and orientation services for the international exchange students and staff of the U.S. Department of State's sponsored Youth Exchange Study Program, "YES Program" in the USA. Imam Arafat is the convener of three annual youth leadership and interfaith conferences, "Better Understanding for a Better World" (BUBW) in Orlando, San Diego, and Baltimore.
As of January 2005, Imam Arafat began conducting programs on "Islam in America" through the International Speakers Program of The United States Department of States in Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Iceland, Belgium and India.