Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. He 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 Qur'anic 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), John Hopkins University, Goucher College, the Renaissance Institute, as well as Comparative Religions at Potomac College in Washington, D.C. Currently he is teaching at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
He served as Campus Imam at John Hopkins University from 1993 to October 2003, Adjunct Chaplain at John 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.
Imam Arafat is the Founder and President of Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF). This non-profit organization 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 and 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 State in more than 25 countries.
The Office of Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State produced a short video, Ramadan in America. It has been translated into at least five languages and has been posted on U.S. Embassy websites around the world. http://goo.gl/7Cpme