'Ali at-Tamimi was born in 1963 in Washington DC. He grew up at a time when they were not many Muslims in the Washington DC area. In 1978, when Ali was about 15 years old, his parents moved to Saudi Arabia. Since 'Ali did not speak Arabic, he attended a private school that was divided into two sections, Arabic and English. In Aliâs second year in the School in Riyadh, the school hired a man by the name of Bilal Philips to teach Islamic Studies in English. This was another turning point in 'Aliâs life. The young Canadian Bilal Philips was a recent graduate of the Islamic University in Madinah. Philips â who would later become one of the most well known Islamic lecturers in the English speaking world â taught his young students directly from his own university class notes. Philips stressed the importance of following the Sunnah and not blindly following a personality or culture. He taught them the importance of supporting any Islamic arguments by evidences from Qur'an or Hadeeth. In a short period of time, the amount of knowledge the students amassed was massive. The Canadian teacher shared young at-Tamimiâs western culture, and now passed on his Islamic knowledge and zeal for learning to 'Ali.
Being a good and fast reader since childhood, 'Ali read every single book published about Islam in English (at the time) whether it was by Muslims or non-Muslims. However, he wanted to learn Islam from the original Arabic sources. Arabic language became an obstacle for him. Starting with small classical books, 'Ali translated every word with the help of a dictionary. He used to spend the whole night learning Arabic. Then he started listening to some religious lecture tapes recorded in Arabic. He would sometimes get the help of some of the Arab students. Reading an average of six hours per day, he built a strong Arabic vocabulary. His Arabic improved to a degree that when he applied to Madinah University later on, he did not need to go through the Arabic program and he went straight to the college classes.
A book lover, there are about 4,000 books in 'Ali at-Tamimi's personal library. Most of his lectures and seminars deal with 'Aqeedah (Islamic Creed), amounting to over 500 hours of recorded audio tapes. He is also a co-author of a widely distributed Daâwah booklet, âA Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam.â The book took a scientific and rational approach to explain Islaam. There are tens of thousands of people who listened and benefited from 'Ali at-Tamimi's lectures.