Tariq Ramadan is the son of Said Ramadan and Wafa Al-Bana, who was the eldest daughter of Hassan al Banna, who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Gamal al-Banna, the liberal Muslim reformer is his great-uncle. His father was a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and was exiled by Gamal Abdul Nasser[3] from Egypt to Switzerland, where Tariq was born.

Tariq Ramadan studied Philosophy and French literature at the Masters level and holds a PhD in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Geneva. He also wrote a PhD dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche, entitled Nietzsche as a Historian of Philosophy.[4] Ramadan then studied Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar university in Cairo, Egypt.[5]

He taught at the College de Saussure, a high school in Geneva, Switzerland, and held a lectureship in Religion and Philosophy at the University of Fribourg from 1996 to 2003. In October 2005 he began teaching at St Antony's College at the University of Oxford on a Visiting Fellowship. In 2005 he was a senior research fellow at the Lokahi Foundation.[6][7] In 2007 he successfully applied for the professorship in Islamic studies at the University of Leiden, but then declined to take up the position, citing professional reasons.[8][9] He was also a guest professor of Identity and Citizenship at Erasmus University Rotterdam,[10][11][12] till August 2009 when the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University dismissed him from his positions as "integration adviser" and professor, stating that the program he chairs on Iran's Press TV, Islam & Life, was "irreconcilable" with his duties in Rotterdam. Ramadan described this move as Islamophobic and politically charged. Beginning September 2009, Ramadan, was appointed to the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.

Ramadan established the Mouvement des Musulmans Suisses (Movement of Swiss Muslims),which engages in various interfaith seminars. He is an advisor to the EU on religious issues and was sought for advice by the EU on a commission on “Islam and Secularism”.In September 2005 he was invited to join a task force by the government of the United Kingdom.[3] He is also the President of the Euro-Muslim Network,a Brussels-based think-tank.

He is widely interviewed and has produced about 100 tapes which sell tens of thousands of copies each year

As of 2009, Tariq Ramadan was persona non grata in Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia[19] Libya or Syria because of his "criticism of these undemocratic regimes that deny the most basic human rights".

Ramadan is married to a French convert to Islam and they have four children.