Imam A. M. Khattab was born January 11, 1932, in Al Balashone, Egypt. After completing grade three in Al Balashone he went to Zagazig for grade four. He was 11 years old. It was here, around the age of 15 years, that he was inspired, one day, to purchase himself some study guides in English, French, and German, and he learned to write and speak these languages on his own. Later, he went on to Cairo's Al-Azhar University where he received a broad education in theology and the social sciences by attending, on his own initiative, four colleges simultaneously: Arts, Science, Law and Theology. He graduated with a master's degree in theology from the school of Usul-ud-Din. He also completed four years of law school, but chose to leave the final examination unfinished because he was delegated abroad. He obtained a second master’s degree in sociology from the University of Alberta and an almost-completed doctorate in sociology from the University of Waterloo, both in Canada.
After graduation from Al-Azhar University, he served in the Egyptian consulate in Calcutta, India, for two years and later headed the Institute of Foreign Languages at Al-Azhar.
Imam Khattab was delegated from Al-Azhar to Canada in the year 1964 as the first imam of the mosque in Edmonton, Alberta. After five years he moved to London, Ontario, and from there to Sarnia, Ontario. In Sarnia he was the director of the social services department at St. Joseph Hospital for seven years. During his last two years of employment there he commuted from Sarnia to Toledo, Ohio, for two years (1980-82) as a part time imam at the Bancroft Mosque. When the Toledo community dedicated the new Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in 1982, Imam Khattab became our first full time imam until his retirement in 1998.
While in Toledo, he guided the construction of the new Islamic Center in Perrysburg and was the driving force in uniting a diverse congregation of 22 different nationalities in the Center. He served the Muslim community of Greater Toledo for 16 years, and, in 1998, upon retirement, was named Imam Emeritus of the Center. In addition to his duties at the Center, he taught Arabic at the University of Toledo and the Bowling Green State University. He also served on many regional and national organizations, notably as Secretary General of the Council of Imams of North America, member of the World Call Council, and member of the Interfaith Round Table in Michigan.
Imam Khattab was an original thinker. He used the hitherto neglected and abandoned tool of ijtehad to break new ground in religious thinking. At times, this forward looking and enlightened approach to religious interpretation put him at odds with traditional orthodoxy. However, his in-depth knowledge of religion and the history of religious traditions, the strength of his towering personality, and his simple approach to the practice of religion put him in the forefront of Islamic thinkers in North America. It would be decades before others would accept his interpretations on such sensitive issues as using astronomical calculations for calculating the start of Ramadan, interest and banking, and the propriety of giving zakah to a mosque or an Islamic Center. With patient persuasion, persistence, and an abiding sense of humor, he guided the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo to become one of the most enlightened and forward-looking centers in North America.
He was known among the Toledo community simply as "Imam". He passed away September 15, 2001.