Mohammad-Ali Rajai

Mohammad-Ali Rajai (Persian: محمدعلی رجائی‎; 15 June 1933 – 30 August 1981) was the second President of Iran from 2 to 30 August 1981 after serving as prime minister under Abolhassan Banisadr. He was also minister of foreign affairs from 11 March 1981 to 15 August 1981, while he was prime minister. He was assassinated in a bombing on 30 August 1981 along with prime minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar.

Mohammad-Ali Rajai
Portrait of Mohammad-Ali Rajai.jpg
Portrait of Mohammad-Ali Rajai
2nd President of Iran
In office
2 August 1981 – 30 August 1981
Supreme LeaderRuhollah Khomeini
Prime MinisterMohammad-Javad Bahonar
Preceded byAbolhassan Banisadr
Succeeded byAli Khamenei
47th Prime Minister of Iran
In office
12 August 1980 – 4 August 1981
PresidentAbolhassan Banisadr
Preceded byMehdi Bazargan
Succeeded byMohammad Javad Bahonar
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
11 March 1981 – 15 August 1981
PresidentAbolhassan Banisadr
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byKarim Khodapanahi (Acting)
Succeeded byMir-Hossein Mousavi
Minister of Education
In office
November 1979 – 12 August 1980
Prime MinisterMehdi Bazargan
Preceded byGholam Hossein Shokohi
Succeeded byMohammad Javad Bahonar
Member of the Parliament of Iran
In office
28 May 1980 – 1 August 1981
ConstituencyTehran, Rey, Shemiranat and Eslamshahr
Majority1,209,012 (56.6%)
Head of Mostazafan Foundation
In office
17 September 1980 – 30 August 1981
Appointed byRuhollah Khomeini
Preceded byAlinaghi Khamoushi
Succeeded byMir-Hossein Mousavi
Personal details
Born(1933-06-15)15 June 1933
Qazvin, Persia
Died30 August 1981(1981-08-30) (aged 48)
Tehran, Iran
Resting placeHafte Tir Mausoleum
Political partyIslamic Republican Party
Islamic Association of Teachers of Iran
Other political
Freedom Movement (Until 1979)
People's Mujahedin (Until 1975)
Spouse(s)Ateghe Sediqi (1958–1981)
Alma materTarbiat Moallem University

Early life and educationEdit

Mohammad-Ali Rajai house in Baharestan street, Tehran

Mohammad-Ali Rajai was born on 15 June 1933 in Qazvin, Iran.[1] His father, a shopkeeper named Abdulsamad, died when he was 4 years old.[2][3] Rajai grew up in Qazvin and moved to Tehran in the late 1940s. He joined the Air Force at age sixteen or seventeen.[4][5] In 1959 he graduated from Tarbiat Moallem University with a degree in education.[3] He worked as a teacher of mathematics.[5]

Political careerEdit

Before the Islamic revolutionEdit

After moving to Tehran, Rajai became involved in the anti-Shah movement and was associated with Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani and the Fadaeian group.[3] At one time a member of the largely anti-clerical People's Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), Rajai turned against its leftist orientation[6] and in 1960 joined the Freedom Movement of Iran.[1][4] He was arrested at least twice by the Shah's forces for his opposition activities and famously displayed his bare foot at the United Nations while describing being tortured by the Shah's interrogators. His longest detention extended from May 1974 to late 1978.[4][5][2]

After the Islamic revolutionEdit

He was actively involved in the Iranian Revolution and was a leader in the movement to purge Iranian universities of American and European influences, which was later called the Cultural Revolution.[citation needed] Rajaei appointed to important occupations after the victory of Islamic revolution. The occupations were as follow:

Ministry of EducationEdit

At the beginning, Gholam Hosein Shokohi was the minister of education, and Rajaei was one of his chancellors. After Shokohi's resigning due to illness, Muhammad Ali Rajaei was appointed as the supervisor of the ministry of education. He was introduced by Muhammad Javad Bahonar, and he became the supervisor of education ministry from 18th shahrivar month to 7th mehr at 1357 solar. Finally, Mehdi Bazargan presented him as the minister of education in his cabinet. His programs in the ministry of education included fair distribution of facilities, fair distribution of finance among staffs, reforming of centers of educating teachers, creating a suitable pedagogical system for Muslim society, developing of Islamic ethics among teachers and pupils, creating a good relation between parents and teachers and respect to dignity of teachers according to Islam. These schedules were very important for Rajaei, and he tried to realize them. He was in charge of the ministry for nine months. The most important achievements were the consistency of all schools and also trying to do away with discrimination and differences. He also tried to change the contents of educational books and also made attempts of Islamization of their contents.[8]

Appointment as Prime MinisterEdit

Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar

In 1979, Rajai left the Freedom Movement.[1] Following the Iranian Revolution, he was appointed minister of education in the government of Mehdi Bazargan, and although Bazargan's cabinet resigned on 6 November 1979, he did not resign and remained in the post until 12 August 1980 when he became prime minister. Following the presidency of Bani Sadr, after 5 months, he nominated Rajai for the position, and parliament voted him in. He appointed Khodapanahi as foreign minister, Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani as interior minister and Javad Fakori as defence minister. During his prime ministership, the Iran–Iraq War started and his government's first policy became the "victory and defence". He was in office until 2 August 1981 when he became the second president of Iran.


Bani Sadr was impeached on 22 June 1981 by parliament, and Khomeini held a Provisional Presidential Council by 6 people headed by Mohammad Beheshti and later Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili. Rajai was one of the members of that Council. He nominated himself for the presidential election in 1981. He was the first president from the Islamic Republican Party after winning 91% of the votes. He officially became the president after the Oath of Office on 2 August 1981.[9] He named Mohammad-Javad Bahonar to the Parliament to become the next prime minister. Parliament voted in to Bahonar and he formed a new government.


On 30 August 1981, President Rajai held a meeting of Iran's Supreme Defence Council, along with the Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar. Witnesses later stated that a trusted aide brought a briefcase into the conference room, set it between the two leaders, and then left. Another person opened the case, triggering a bomb that set the room ablaze and killed Rajai, Bahonar, and three others.[10] This attack occurred two months after the Hafte Tir bombing. The assassin was identified as Massoud Keshmiri, an operative of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (also known as the MKO, MEK and PMOI), who had infiltrated the Prime Minister's office in the guise of a state security official. Rajai was buried in Behesht-e Zahra.

Political positionsEdit

Rajai's political programs were based on a form of constitutional law that included a position of privilege for Islam. He insisted that those in control of the state must be Muslim, emphasized the Velayat-e Faqih, and believed it essential that the government cooperate with institutions such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and Islamic Revolutionary Court. He respected people's freedom insofar as it did not contraveneIslamic law and tried during his tenure to create a consistent government.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Houchang E. Chehabi (1990). Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran Under the Shah and Khomeini. I.B.Tauris. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-85043-198-5. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Brown, Roland Elliott (20 April 2017). "Rajai: The Clerics' Loyalist (1981)". IranWire.
  3. ^ a b c "Documentary Biography of President Mohammad Ali Rajai". Islamic Revolution International Center. 6 November 2016. Archived from the original on 2 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Mohammad Ali Raja'i". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Kihss, Peter (1 September 1981). "Obituaries | Mohammad Ali Rajai, Iran's President". New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015.
  6. ^ Ostovar, Afshon P. (2009). "Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the Development of Military Power in Iran (1979–2009)" (PhD Thesis). University of Michigan. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  7. ^ "پرتال جامع علوم انسانی - شهید محمدعلی رجایی و دوران پس از پیروزی انقلاب اسلامی". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  8. ^ "مرکز اسناد انقلاب اسلامی - کارنامه شهیدان رجایی و باهنر در وزارت آموزش و پرورش". Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Rajai Sworn In; Bani-Sadr Predicts Revolt", Pittsburgh Press, 2 August 1981, p. A-8
  10. ^ Facts on File Yearbook 1981
  11. ^ Ali Ahmadi (1384). "How created a consistent government". Gozaresh. pp. 14–18.
Political offices
Preceded by
Mehdi Bazargan
Prime Minister of Iran
Succeeded by
Mohammad Javad Bahonar
Preceded by
Karim Khodapanahi (Acting)
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Acting)
Succeeded by
Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Preceded by
Abulhassan Banisadr
President of Iran
Succeeded by
Ali Khamenei
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hassan Habibi
Islamic Republican Party nominee for President of Iran
July 1981
Succeeded by
Ali Khamenei