American Islamic College was incorporated in September 1981 as a private, not-for-profit, four-year institution of higher education meant to offer especially strong programs in Islamic Studies and the Arabic Language. In November 1982, AIC received authority from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) to operate as a postsecondary institution. The search for suitable premises led to the purchase of its present property (see insert) in March 1983.

Old AIC Building

The monumental main building (1922) and the subsequent additions (1955) were both designed by Barry Byrne (1883-1967), a Chicago native and one of Franklin Lloyd Wright’s four best known students.

The College first opened its doors to students in September 1983 under founding President Isma`il Al-Faruqi (1921-1986) and founding Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ahmed Sakr (1933-2015). In May 1984, IBHE bestowed degree-granting authority on AIC for the B.A. in Arabic Studies and the B.A. in Islamic Studies. In February 1985, AIC became the first accredited Islamic institution of higher education in North America when it was awarded “Initial Candidacy Status” from the regional Higher Learning Commission (HLC). In June 1988, AIC held its first commencement ceremony with six students receiving B.A. degrees.

Already in 1977, the buildings were considered noteworthy enough to be put on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places. In the summer of 1983, the complex of buildings was awarded Chicago Landmark status by the City’s Commission on Historical and Architectural Landmarks.

Unfortunately, in March 1989, HLC withdrew AIC’s candidacy status for regional accreditation due to failure to address concerns about financial stability and governance. The following year IBHE revoked the College’s operating and degree-granting authority. Though AIC subsequently regained this status with IBHE and continued to function in minimalist fashion, it was unable to meet the HLC criteria for reapplication for candidacy status which, in turn, led IBHE to revoke our operating and degree-granting authority for a second time in 2004.

Beginning in 2009, American Islamic College embarked upon a new phase of significant reorganization and the installation of a reformed governance structure and a new administration. In 2010, the campus buildings and grounds underwent extensive renovation and remodeling. It was then that AIC reemerged as a revitalized resource of the Muslim community, hosting two consecutive international conferences on Islam in America, organizing public lectures and offering a variety of non-credit and non-degree classes in subjects such as Islamic History, Islamic Art, and Arabic. In the fall of 2013, after being granted IBHE operating authority once again, the College reopened its doors to undergraduate and—for the first time—graduate students. By April 2014, AIC had received IBHE degree-granting authority for its B.A. and M.A. programs in Islamic Studies and, in December 2014, for the Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies (Islamic Chaplaincy). It is not accredited, and so, students do not have access to FAFSA and other sources of Federal and state funding.

In March 1983, the College purchased its present property, a former Catholic girls high school called Immaculata and attached convent.
Campus Renovation – 2010
Operating Authority – 2013
Degree Granting Authority – 2014

We have undergraduate and graduate students now filling the renovated classrooms and dormitory, and the College is more alive now than ever before. AIC’s history is thus still in the making, and we welcome you to be part of it.