Coming from a family of scholars and theologians in Iran that goes back over 300 years, Mohammad Jaífar Mahallati holds a PhD in Islamic studies from McGill University as well as degrees in economics, civil engineering, and international relations. His first academic appointment was as chairman of the economics department of Kerman University in Iran.
From 1987 to1989, during the peak of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Mahallati served as Iranís ambassador to the UN and was instrumental in bringing peace between the two countries.
Since 1991 he has given lectures and seminars on political Islam and has served on think tanks including the Middle East Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, and the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis. From 2005 to 2006 he held the Harvard fellowship for Persian studies. His diverse background in classical and modern academic disciplines and his practical experience as an administrator and negotiator have given Mahallati unusual insight into modern Iran, Islam, and the underlying historical factors that are crucial to the social and intellectual development of the region. His experience at the UN and his contacts in both religious and political circles have provided him with a unique understanding of the contours of law, personalities, and cultural mores of Middle Eastern societies.
Mahallatiís most recent book is Ethics of War in Muslim Cultures. He has published pieces in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, Lebanonís Daily Star, Middle East Insight, Rahnemay-e Haqq-Iran and Khabar-e Jonoob-Iran. His writings are mostly about interfaith peacemaking and bridge-building between civilizations. A staunch promoter of religious moderation and interfaith understanding, Mahallati is a trustee and co-founder of the Ilex Foundation, a cultural bridge-building institution.