Ali Nakhjavani was born in 1919 in Baku, Azerbaijan to Ali-Akbar Nakhjavani and Fatimih Khanum, both Bahá'ís. After his father's death circa 1921, when he was two, his family was advised by `Abdu'l-Bahá to move to Haifa, where he grew up. In 1939 he received the Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from the American University of Beirut, and then in the early 1940s he returned to Iran, residing first in Tehran, then Tabriz and finally in Shiraz. In 1950 he was elected to the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, the governing body of the Bahá'ís in that country, where he served until the following year.
In 1951, Ali Nakhjavání and his family moved to Uganda to assist with the development of the Bahá'í community in that country; while he was there he worked as a teacher and lecturer. During his early years there, Enoch Olinga joined the religion, and in 1953 Nakhjavání, and his wife along with Olinga and two other Bahá'ís travelled from Uganda to Cameroon to help spread the Bahá'í Faith in Cameroon. From 1954-61 he was a member of the Auxiliary Board for the spread of the religion in Africa, and later from 1956 to 1961 he was elected to the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa, the Bahá'í governing body for the region.
In 1961, Nakhjavání was elected to the International Bahá'í Council — the forerunner to the Universal House of Justice, the worldwide governing body of the Bahá'ís — and thus moved to Haifa. In 1963 he was elected to the Universal House of Justice during its inaugural convention, and served as a member of that body until 2003. Ali Nakhjavání is married to Violette Nakhjavání (née Banani) and they have one daughter, Bahiyyih, and one son, Mehran; they currently reside in France.
Ali Nakhjavání has written many works that have been published in Bahá'í periodicals, as well as authoring three books:
- Nakhjavání, Alí (2005). Towards World Order. Baha'i Publications Australia. ISBN 978-1-876322-93-9.
- Nakhjavání, Alí. Shoghi Effendi: Author of Teaching Plans. Casa Editrice Baha'i Italy. ISBN 978-88-7214-107-6.
- Nakhjavání, Alí. Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen. Casa Editrice Baha'i Italy. ISBN 978-88-7214-112-0.
- Bahá'í International Community (2003-04-29). "Two members of Universal House of Justice leave after 40 years service". Bahá'í World News Service. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15.
- Universal House of Justice (1986). "In Memorium". The Bahá'í World of the Bahá'í Era 136-140 (1979-1983). XVIII (Bahá'í World Centre). pp. 797–800. ISBN 978-0-85398-234-0
- Hainsworth, Philip (May 2001). "It All Began 50 Years Ago ...". Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom) 2001 (May)[dead link]
- Mughrab, Jan (2004). "Jubilee Celebration in Cameroon". Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 20 (5) (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom). Archived from the original on 2010-11-15
- Bahá'í International Community (2003-08-23). "Cameroon celebrates golden time". Bahá'í World News Service. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15.