Majid was born in 1937 in Mashhad, Iran. He came to the United States at the age of 17 when he was selected to serve as a delegate to the 1955 New York (International) Herald Tribune Forum and to meet President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Shortly thereafter, he attended Dartmouth College, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Government. He then attended Harvard University, where he earned his Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies and his Ph.D. in Political Economy.
During his time at Harvard doing his graduate studies, Majid lived at Friends Meetinghouse for two years. During this time he participated in an AFSC Peace Caravan. He also attended Friends Meeting while at Oxford in the late 1970s, and attended and later joined Honolulu Friends Meeting when he moved there to teach at the University of Hawaiʻi.
His application for United States citizenship was a matter demonstrating his commitment to pacifism. An affirmation of allegiance to the United States was required, which Majid was willing to make. There was also a questionnaire that had to be addressed. Among other things, the questionnaire asked if he would be willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States. Majid, citing his long history as a pacifist, responded that he would not be willing to bear arms. The local Director of Immigration considered that to be a refusal to affirm allegiance to the United States, and refused to grant the citizenship request. Majid, with support from the Congressional delegation of Hawaiʻi -- and Honolulu Friends Meeting -- successfully explained the difference between the affirmation and answers to the questionnaire, and Immigration changed its position and granted his citizenship.
Majid dedicated his life to fostering international understanding and peace. He worked around the world, serving as Director of Social Planning at the Plan Organization of Iran, Founding Director of the Iran Communication and Development Institute (Tehran), Senior Fellow at Saint Anthony's College at Oxford University, Program Specialist at UNESCO (Paris), Trustee of the International Institute of Communications (London), Professor of International Communication at the University of Hawaiʻi, Director of the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of Hawaiʻi, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions (Cambridge), and Director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research (Honolulu). During his professional life as an educator, besides teaching at the University of Hawai‘i as full time Professor, Majid also taught at Lesley University (Massachusetts), New College, the University of Tehran, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oxford University, and Soka University of America.
As an internationally recognized scholar, he was a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Club of Rome. His numerous publications include over 25 books and 100 articles, translated in a dozen languages including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Slovenian, Korean, Japanese, Bahasa Malay, Arabic, and Persian. A self-described "global nomad," he traveled to or lived in six continents and approximately one hundred different countries and enjoyed swimming and poetry as a daily pastime. Majid is survived by his loving wife, Katharine, with whom he enjoyed 40 years of marriage, their children, Maryam, John, Yalda, and Terrence, and six grandchildren.
Memorial donations in Majid's name may be made to Amnesty International.