Hassan Rohani the 7th president of Iran was born Hassan Fereydoun in Sorkheh, near Semnan, on November 12, 1948 into a religious family. His father, Haj Asadollah Fereydoun, was opposed to the former shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, which exposed him to the political concerns at a young age. He began studying religion as a youth and attended religious seminaries of Qom in the 1960s, learning from prominent Shia scholars like Grand Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Golpaygani and Grand Ayatolah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani. Here he changed his surname to Rohani, which means "clerical or spiritual." In addition, he began to study modern courses, and was enrolled in the University of Tehran in 1969. He obtained a B.A. degree in Judicial Law in 1972, and in 1973 he was entered military service, as a draftee, in the city of Neishabour.
Many years later Rohani continued his studies and in 1995 was graduated from the Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, with an M.Phil. degree in Law. His thesis entitled "The Islamic legislative power with reference to the Iranian experience." Later in 1999, he received his Ph.D. degree in Constitutional Law from the Glasgow Caledonian University. His thesis titled "The Flexibility of Sharia (Islamic Law) with reference to the Iranian experience". His Caledonian research was initially supervised by Iranian lawyer and scholar Professor Sayed Hassan Amin and later by Dr Mahdi Zahraa, an Islamic law scholar.
Hassan Rohani (first row, 2nd from left) praying with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Neauphle-le-Château, France 1978
Hassan Rohani as a young cleric started his political activities by following the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini during the beginning of the Iranian Islamist movement. In 1960's. He traveled throughout Iran made speeches against the Shah of Iran and his government.
Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Rohani did his best to install and stabilize the Islamic Republic. He started with reorganizing the Iranian army and military bases. Later in 1980 he was elected to the Parliament of Iran (Majlis).
During his five terms in the Majlis (from 1980 to 2000), he served in various capacities including head of defense committee (1st and 2nd terms) and foreign policy committee (4th and 5th terms), and deputy speaker of the Majlis (in 4th and 5th terms).
During the Iran-Iraq war, Rohani was the member of the Supreme Defense Council (1982-1988) and the High Council for Supporting War and headed its Executive Committee (1986-1988). He also served as deputy commander of the war (1983-1985), commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya Operation Center (1985-1988), and commander of the Iran Air Defense Force (1986-1991). He was appointed as Deputy to Second-in-Command of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff (1988-1989).
Rohani was one of the three people who conducted the talk with McFarlane, in Tehran when he came there in May 1986, on buying weapons. Later this weapons sale became to be known as the Iran-Contra affair, also referred to as Irangate.
At the end of the war, Hassan Rohani was awarded the second-grade Fath (Victory) Medal along with a group of military commanders who served in Iran-Iraq war. He also on the occasion of the liberation of Khoramshahr from Iraqis occupation, received the first-grade Nasr Medal by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ayatollah Khamenei.
After the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was amended in 1989 and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) came into being up to the present time, Rohani has been representative of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, at the council. He was the first secretary of the SNSC and kept the post from 1989 to 2005. Rohani was also national security advisor (to President Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Khatami) from 1989 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2005. In 1991, Rohani was appointed to the Expediency Council and has kept that post up to the present time. He heads the Political, Defense, and Security Committee of the Expediency Council.
Rouhani as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) played leading role in the nuclear negotiations which brought him the nickname of "Diplomat Sheikh. His term as Iran's top nuclear negotiator, however, was limited, from 6 October 2003 to 15 August 2005.
Following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, Rohani resigned his post as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) after on 15 August 2005, and was succeeded by Ali Larijani as the new secretary who also took charge of Iran's nuclear case. Rohani then was appointed by the Supreme Leader as his representative at the SNSC.
Rohani was considered a leading candidate in the June 2013 election because of his centrist views yet close ties to Iran's ruling clerics and the reformist elements of Islamic Republic. He announced his presidential candidacy on 11 March 2013. Rohani as a presidential candidate was endorsed by former presidents Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani. Later the reformists supported him on the presidential race after pro-reform candidate Mohammad Reza Aref quitted in favor of Rohani. On 15 June 2013, Rohani was announced president elect by the Interior Minister Mostafa Najjar. He secured 18,613,329 votes out of total 36,704,156 casted votes, while his main rival Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf secured 6,077,292 votes. Rohani performed well with the middle class, youth and women, his electoral landslide victory was widely seen as the result of willingness among all Iranian ranks to change and reform; religious Iranians equally celebrated Rohani's victory as well, demonstrating rejection of the conservative policies.
Dr. Hassan Rohani was inaugurated as the seventh president of Iran on 4 August in House of the Parliament.