Having converted to Islam by the age of 30, Rashid al-Din became the powerful vizier of the Ilkhan, Ghazan. Later he was commissioned by Ghazan to write the Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh, now considered the most important single source for the history of the Ilkhanate period and the Mongol Empire. He retained his position as a vizier until 1316.
Historian Morris Rossabi calls Rashid-al-Din "arguably the most distinguished figure in Persia during Mongolian rule". He was a prolific author and established the Rab'-e Rashidi academic foundation in Tabriz.
Rashid al-Din was born into a Persian Jewish family in Hamadan, now in Hamadan Province. His grandfather had been a courtier to the founder Ilkhanate ruler Hulagu Khan, and Rashid al-Din's father was an apothecary at the court. He converted to Islam around the age of thirty.
Rashid was trained as a physician and started service under Hulagu's son, Abaqa Khan. He rose to become the Grand Vizier of the Ilkhanid court at Soltaniyeh, near Qazvin. He served as vizier and physician under the Ilkhanate emperors Ghazan and Öljaitü before falling to court intrigues during the reign of Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan, whose ministers had him killed at the age of seventy. His son, Ghiyas al-Din ibn Rashid al-Din, briefly served as vizier after him.
The Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh "Compendium of Chronicles" was commissioned by Ghazan and initially was a history of the Mongols and their dynasty, but gradually expanded to include the entire history since the time of Adam to Rashid al-Din's time.
Rashid was assisted by Bolad, a Mongol nobleman who was the emissary of the Great Khan to the Ilkhanid court. Bolad provided him with much background about Mongol history, especially about the Borjigin clan.