Ingrid Mattson, the sixth of seven children, was born in 1963 in Kingston, Ontario, where she spent her childhood and attended Catholic schools. She credits the Catholic women who educated her with providing "a fantastic education" and "a place to explore and develop this early, youthful spirituality".She studied Philosophy and Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo in Canada from 1982–87. As part of her course of study, she spent summer of 1986 as a visiting student in Paris, France. During this time, she befriended West African students from a Sufi Muslim community. On reading the Qur'an, she found, "an awareness of God, for the first time since I was very young." After returning to Waterloo, she reverted to Islam in 1987. She completed her studies in Waterloo and earned combined Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Fine Arts in 1987.
Doctor of Law, honoris causa, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, 2012 Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, Chicago Theological Seminary, 2012 Wisam al-Istiqlal (Medal of Independence) of the First Order for contributions to the field of Islamic Studies, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 2010 Jordan’s Royal Institute for Strategic Studies “500 Most Influential Muslims,” 2009, 2010, 2011. Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” 2007 Newsweek Magazine’s “People to Watch” in 2007
“Our history is not a history of the marginalization and exclusion of women. Our history is a history of the empowerment of women.”