Mohammad Amini Memorial Award

This annual scholarship in the amount of $1000 USD is dedicated to the memory of the late historian Mohammad Amini (1951-2022) in recognition of his life and work as an advocate for democratization and human rights in Iran. Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate students working on issues related to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran.

Deadline: May 1, 2024


The 2024 Award Committee

  • Fariba Amini (Chair)
  • Ali Banuazizi
  • Rudi Matthee
  • Niki Akhavan
  • Saghar Sadeghian



1- The scholarship will be administered by the Association for Iranian Studies.
2- The Mohammad Amini Memorial Award will be given annually.
3- AIS will be responsible for publicizing the award on its webpage and issuing an annual call for applications.
4- AIS will assemble a committee of five members, including at least one member of the AIS council, to review applications and determine the awardee each Spring, beginning in 2024.
5- The $1000 USD fund will be submitted to AIS by the donor(s) in advance of the annual conference in which the award will be distributed to the awardee.
6- Due to sanctions-related OFAC regulations, we are unable to deliver scholarship funds to scholars and institutions in Iran.


How to apply

Send the writing sample related to democratization, the rule of law, and/or human rights in Iran along with a letter of recommendation to.,

Deadline: May 1, 2024


In the early afternoon of Sunday, October 16, 2022, Mohammad Amin Amini passed away in Irvine, California. This eminent Iranian historian and scholar of contemporary Iranian history was also a long-time social and political activist, a forceful voice in the political debate about Iran’s past, presence, and future. He contributed to Iran’s contemporary history with an dispassionate and research-oriented approach, producing works such as Sowdāgari bā tārikh (Deception with History), a breakthrough in the history of the Iranian national movement. Refusing to let opposing voices silence him or hold him back, he pursued his goals with courage and passion until the end of his prolific life.
Born in 1951, Mohammad grew up in a political environment and in the bosom of a patriotic, freedom-loving family. He was the eldest son of Nosratollah Amini, jurist and Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh’s personal lawyer, who was also the first head of the Social Security Organization. Nosratollah Amini in addition briefly served as mayor of Tehran in this period. After the revolution, Mr. Amini served as governor of Fars and was famous for saving the treasure of Iran, Persepolis. Mohammad’s mother was the late Nahid Atai, a learned woman, full of affection, who brought him up in a political and cultural environment.
Mohammad Amini graduated from the prestigious Alborz College. Having completed his secondary education, he went to the United States, aged seventeen. He first went to Michigan to study English and then enrolled in the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to study geology. He also joined the Confederation of Iranian Students and, indeed, was one of its founding members. A gifted person with a strong memory and an excellent public speaker, he became engaged in various types of activity in the movement. Before the 1979 Revolution, he returned to Iran clandestinely but as repression took over, he inevitably returned to the United States and stayed there for the rest of his life.
He spent much of his time in exile engaged in research on Iran’s history, a passion that stayed with him until the end of his life. The result of his endeavor is reflected in his eloquent writings, in which he analyzed Iranian society and history from various angles. He believed that some historical figures, their works, and contributions to Iranian history, need to be re-examined to diagnose of the roots of the country’s current problems.
One of the figures Mohammad turned to was Ahmed Kasravi’s and his The History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution. Other topics he took on are the Fadā’iyān-e Islam (the devotees of Islam), the idea of creating an Islamic state in Iran, the clerical classes, and the national movement centered on the figure of Mohammad Mossadegh. He addressed such issues in many articles, linking them to major socio-historical trends such as patriotism, nationalism, federalism, etc. In his frequent lectures, debates, and TV talks, he set out to explain his views on Iranian history and politics. His writings and his public performances made his name widely known in Iran and beyond. This legacy will remain a bright light for future Iranian generations and all those who seek the truth in today’s darkness. He will be remembered as a true patriot in Iran, and his voice will echo in the memory of so many Iranians.
In 2009, Mohammad Amini said, “I think that the compulsory hijab is like “the eye of Esfandiyār” [the Achilles Heel] of the theocratic regime [in power in Iran] and the most heinous symbol of the regime’s dominance over the most private parts of people’s lives; the fight against it is the central discourse of freedom in Iran.”
May he rest in peace. His memory will live on.