Dr. Azhar Ali Rizvi was born on 7th october, 1936 in the city of Fatehgarh, Province of U.P, India. He belongs to a respectable Syed family. He was a son of Syed Muhammad Ali, with qualities of Sufi’s and Saints. During his childhood, he participated in the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. Initially he got education at home and then joined Higher Secondary School Fatehgarh. He used to read the news papers Dawn and Anjaam.
The family of Dr. Azhar Ali Rizvi migrated from India to Pakistan in 1951 under worst circumstances. He passed his matriculation examination and continued his studies at Government College and F.C College, Lahore and qualified his BSc examination. Then he did his Post Graduation i.e.MA in Psychology in 1961 from Govt. Islamia College, Civil Lines, Lahore. He obtained his PhD degree from University of the Punjab and 2nd PhD in Counselling Psychology from South West University (USA).
He started his career as adhoc lecturer at Peshawar and then after the selection from Public Service Commission, he was posted at Govt. Degree College, Rawalpindi and served from 1962 till 1971. He introduced the paper of Experimental Psychology at Intermediate level in 1962 along with practicals. During this time he remained active member of different organizations, such as Secretary Educators Club and Lecturers Association etc.
In 1971, Dr. Muhammad Ajmal became the Principal of Government College, Lahore and adjusted Dr. Azhar Ali Rizvi under his administrative control. Dr. Rizvi served the Depatment of Psychology till his retirement. He remained member board of studies of various Universities of the country and Convener Board of Studies in Psychology, University of the Punjab for about 19 years.
Dr. Rizvi served as Secretary General and President Pakistan Psychological Association, Member Board of Governors and Subjects Expert of Dr. Muhammad Ajmal, National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. Due to his constant efforts, Psychology was included in the Faculty of Science in the University of the Punjab in 1974.
Dr. Rizvi introduced a compulsory paper of Muslim Psychology in MSc. Psychology Syllabus in 1978. He was a Founder President of Society for Advancement of Muslim Psychology. He was an author of many books and articles. One of his books “Muslim Tradition in Psychology and Modern Trends” received award from National Book Council of Pakistan, Islamabad. He developed three Indigenous Personality Tests. Ghazali Personality Inventory, Shakhsiyat Ka Serukhi Jaiza and Dewan’s Projective Test for Children and also translated many Psychological Inventories into Urdu.
Dr. Azhar Ali Rizvi remained Editor of a Psychology Quarterly for about 19 years. In Encyclopedia of Psychology (2002), published by American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, his contributions were highly acknowledged with the wording as under
“Muhammad Ajmal (1920-1994) developed a Sufi Doctrine (divinely inspired humanism), as an indigenous approach to healing along Scientific lines. The Sufi Psychotherapy inspired his students and gave rise to sub discipline of Muslim Psychology at the Government College, Lahore. One of his students Syed Azhar Ali Rizvi took a leading role in the establishment of the Institute of Muslim Psychology, Lahore. Prof. Azhar Ali Rizvi, Founder Director of the Institute of Muslim Psychology formerly Chair of the Psychology Department, Government College, Lahore, (University of the Punjab) is an Editor of Zehan (Mind), the Urdu Journal of Muslim Psychology. Rizvi’s book Muslim Traditions in Psychotherapy and Modern Trends (Lahore, 1994) results from intensive Research on Sufi Scholars of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (particularly the work of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi and Shah Wali Ullah). According to Rizvi, the concept of Abnormality his synonymous with the distance one maintains from the Creator and therapy in geared to reduce the distance through Cognitive understanding and strengthening Faith of God. In the frame work outline by Dr. Sinha (1997), the work of Ajmal (1969, 1986) and Rizvi (1994) belong in the Category of Indigenous Psychology. Rizvi’s (1980) work on Ashraf Ali Thanvi, a Sufi Scholar of Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent on Reading Therapy and on Healthy and Unhealthy Personality (Rizvi, 1994) is important.
Dr. Azhar Ali Rizvi was a Honorary Director of Psychope. He was a strong supporter of Urdu Language. He was a founder Editor of Urdu Quarterly Magazine “Zeehan”. He pioneered an Innovative Behavior Therapy which is based on Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi’s Concept of Human Personality. He produced work on Iqbal’s Theory of Counseling and was Excellent Practicing PsychoTherapist and rendered his services for a long period at Fountain House Lahore under the Umbrella and Guidance of Dr. Rashid Chaudhry.