Mukhtar was born in the town of Koorkoor in the Bakool region of southern Somalia. He is the son of Malak Mukhtar Malak Hassan, a highly respected chief of the Digil and Mirifle (Rahanweyn) Somali clans, and belongs to the Leysan subdivision of the latter.
Dr. Mukhtar is a two-time Fulbright-Hays Scholar, first in 1983-1984 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and then between 1984-1985 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. He also held fellowships from the Istituto Italiano per l'Africa and the Arab League's Education, Culture and Science Organization (ALECSO), in 1980 and 1981–1982, respectively, as well as from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2002.
Dr. Mukhtar has long been a producer and correspondent of the BBC African Service, and is presently the Chairperson of the Somalia Committee for Peace and Reconciliation (Ergada) as well as the Inter-Riverine Studies Association (ISA).
Dr. Mukhtar has written numerous scholarly works on the history and sociology of Somalia and Islam.
History and historiography:
- Historical Dictionary of Somalia, New Edition (2003)
- Somali Responses to Colonial Occupation (The Inter-Riverine Case) in Putting the Cart Before the Horse: Contested Nationalism and the Crisis of the Nation-State in Somalia, edited by Abdi Kusow (2004),
- Arabic Sources on Somalia, in: History in Africa 14 (1987).
- Islam in Somali History: Fact and Fiction, in: The Invention of Somalia, edited by Ali Jimale Ahmed (1995).
- The Plight of the Agro-Pastoral Society of Somalia," in Review of African Political Economy 70 (1996)
- The Emergence and Role of Political Parties in the Inter-River Region of Somalia From 1947-1960, in: Ufahamu 17, no. 2 (1989);
- Somalia: Searching for the Foundation of Social and Civil Morality," in The Proceedings of the 6th Somali Studies International Association, edited by Jorg Janzen (2001) "Somalia: Between Self Determination and Chaos," in Mending Rips in the Sky, edited by Hussein Adam and Richard Ford (1997).