Department Chair:
Cynthia Chapman

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Hall

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8866
Fax: (440) 775-6910

Rice Hall 316
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Mohammad Mahallati

Mohammad Mahallati

Presidential Scholar of Islam

Contact Information


Rice Hall 328
(440) 775-8861

Mohammad Jafar Mahallati

Mohammad Mahallati

Professor Mahallati

Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Arts, National University (Tehran), 1975
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Kansas, 1978
  • Masters of Science, University of Oregon, 1980
  • Doctor of Philosophy, McGill University, 2006

Mohammad Jafar (Amir) Mahallati is currently Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies at the Religion Department of Oberlin College. He received his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from McGill University, after completing the Harvard fellowship for Persian studies in 2005-06. Mahallati has taught graduate courses and given lectures at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Georgetown Universities. He has served as senior scholar and affiliate with several academic and religious institutions focused on international relations, including the Middle East Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, and Search for Common Ground (all in Washington DC).

After his studies in Islamic theology at Khan Seminary (Shiraz, Iran) and receiving a B.A. in Economics from National University (Tehran), Mahallati completed a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Kansas and a M.S. in Political Economy from the University of Oregon. He served as Director General, Economic and International Affairs, in Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1981-1987, and was Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations from 1987-1989. As Ambassador he was successful in bringing an end to the devastating eight-year Iran-Iraq War. Besides his scholarly interests in Religious Studies, Mahallati enjoys pursuing his interests in Islamic arts and literature, specifically Sufi poetry and sacred calligraphy. He has co-translated into English two published volumes on the poetry of the contemporary Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri.  

Mahallati’s dissertation research focused on the history and theory of Islamic ethics. Presently he is working on a book titled: The Return of a Civilization: Reflections on the Contemporary Iranian-Shii Thoughts on War and Peace. Drawing on his dissertation research, this book focuses on modern critical writings on ethics of war and peace by Shii jurists and Iranian scholars since the end of the Iraq-Iran war in 1989. This book would be the first of its kind on this topic. It is intended for scholars and students of Islamic studies, conflict resolution, law, history, international relations and ethics. It will also be of interest to the general public and to policymakers in the Muslim and the non-Muslim worlds. Another field of Mahallati’s current research and publication, new in its field, is ethics of friendship aiming at a better understanding of friendship as a moral category in Muslim cultures at the individual and social levels. The research looks at cultural and religious elements in Muslim life that could be utilized in the modern international relations. Two products of the research are forthcoming edited volumes titled “Ethics of Friendship in Muslim Cultures: Theory and Practice,” that are in the publication process in English and Persian languages. These volumes that share only a few chapters provide a wide range of articles by many top scholars of the field that together can help a novel approach to peacemaking within and also without Muslim Cultures.  


  • Islam
  • Introduction to the Quran
  • Islamic Mystic Traditions, and Literature, Seminar
  • Politics and Religion in the Modern Middle East
  • The Ethics of Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking in Christianity and Islam
  • Introduction to Muslim Cultures and Civilizations: A Humanistic Approach
  • The Making of an Ayatollah, First Year Seminar Program
  • Forgiveness in Christian and Islamic Traditions
  • Ethics in Islam: A Historical and Theoretical Perspective
  • Ethics of War in Muslim Cultures: A Comparative and Critical Perspective, Seminar