From a family with 300 years of clerical background, Mohammad Mahallati began his studies on Islam in 1969 in the Khan Madrasah of Shiraz, where his grandfather, the grand Ayatollah Bahauddin Mahallati, was the most senior instructor. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in both Iran and the U.S. in Islamic studies, economics, civil engineering, and international relations. He began his first job in 1980 as chairman of the economics department of Kerman University in Iran.
Pursuant to the closure of all universities after Iranís 1979 Cultural Revolution, Mahallati joined the Iranian Foreign Ministry where he was Director General of Economic and International Affairs. He also served as Ambassador to the United Nations from 1987 to1989, a period that coincided with the peak of the eight-year long Iran-Iraq War. Going beyond his official mandate at the cost of his career, he successfully pushed for peace between the two countries.
From 1990 to 2000, Mahallati taught international relations at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Georgetown Universities. He also served as senior scholar and affiliate at several think tank institutions, including the Middle East Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, and Search for Common Ground.
Mahallati has published in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, Middle East Insight, Rahnemaye Haz-Iran, and Khabare Jonoob-Iran. After his father Ayatollah Majdeddin Mahallati passed away in 2000, he was ordained as a ranking clergy in Shiraz, Iran.
Mahallati is serving as a trustee of the Ilex Foundation, a cultural bridge-building institution, which he co-founded in 1999. He is presently a fellow at Harvard University.