He was born in Lancashire in 1909. He received his degree in English at Oxford in 1932, and became a Lecturer in Anglo-Saxon at the University of Kaunas. In 1939, he went to Egypt to study Islam and Arabic, and converted to Islam. The following year he was given a lectureship in Cairo University. He returned to the UK in 1952, and got a degree in Arabic from London University. He was a student and friend of C.S. Lewis, and in turn, became a teacher and friend to Le Gai Eaton, whom he helped bring into Islam.
From 1970-74 he was Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books at the British Museum where he had been in special charge of the Qur’an manuscripts, amongst other treasures, since 1955. Besides being a well respected biographer of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and a translator and author of texts about tasawwuf, Dr. Lings was a modern day authority on William Shakespeare. Last autumn, he put forth his thesis that Shakespeare may have been influenced by Sufism.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. May Allah ta’ala reward him for all the benefit he gave to so many of us whose lives and understanding of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the din were enriched by his work.