Mohammad Mahallati is from a family of clerics in Iran that goes back over 300 years. His father Ayatollah Majdeddin Mahallati was a renowned advocate of charity in that country. When his father passed away in 2000, Mohammad Mahallati was ordained as a ranking clergy in Shiraz. Currently a professor of Islamic studies and ethics, Mahallati also has expertise in economics, civil engineering, and international relations. He has taught courses at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Georgetown, and he is known in academic circles to be a staunch promoter of religious moderation and interfaith understanding. In 2005, Mahallati received a fellowship from Harvard to work on his first book War Ethics in Muslim Cultures, a Critical and Comparative Perspective.
Mahallati served as Iranís ambassador to the United Nations from 1987 to 1989, a period coinciding with the peak of the eight year Iran-Iraq war. Going well beyond his official mandate as ambassador at great personal cost to his career, he successfully pushed for peace between the two countries. Since that time, he has served as a senior scholar and affiliate at several think tank institutions, including the Middle East Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, Search for Common Ground, and the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis.
Mahallati has published in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, the Daily Star, Middle East Insight, Rahnemay-e Haz-Iran, and Khabar-e Jonoob-Iran. His writings deal primarily with interfaith peacemaking and bridge-building between civilizations. In addition to teaching and writing, Mahallati is currently a trustee of the Ilex Foundation, a cultural bridge-building institution which he co-founded in 1999.