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The Government and the Political System

During the first two Hejira centuries, Iran was governed by the local rulers all of whom were under the central caliphate. However, from the 3rd century onwards after Iran attained political independence the sources of political power in this country need to be studied and examined. Before the Ghaznavids rose to power there were three main categories of politically independent powers in Iran: a) the group that had apparently accepted the caliphate and regarded their rulers as the autonomous representatives of the caliph called the “Amirs” (Emirs) of their territories; b) religious groups like the Alavids and the Khawārej (Kharejites) who referred to their supreme leaders as “Imams” and who had their own special religious principles for the appointment, authorities, and disposal of the Imams; and c) a third group that followed the legacy of the traditional Sassanid Iran and referred to their ruler as the “Shāh”.

The term “Soltān” or “Sultan” emerged with the rise of the Ghaznavids and became an important title within the Islamic world for many centuries to follow. From the etymological viewpoint, the “Soltān” was a person who had gained control over the Islamic territories through military expedition. Although in theoretical-political discussions like the ones in such as texts as the “Ahkām al-Soltāniyah” this kind of power lacked legitimacy, after the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate in mid 7th Century AH/13th Century AD, it was gradually given approval and the Soltān came to be recognized as a legitimate ruler in many Islamic territories. During the Safavid period, efforts were made to convince some religious personalities – like Mohaqqeq Karakie in the role of the representative of the “Imam of the Age” (‘a) – to approve of the legitimacy of the Soltān.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned issue of legitimacy, not much historical information has been compiled, studied, or analyzed in order to present a clear picture on the basic and fundamental rights in Iran during the various phases of its history as well as to review the laws that limited the authority of the Shāh, regulated the relationship between the Shāh and government as well as the religious authorities, the appointment of the crown prince, and the deposal of the Shāh.

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Iran Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 ,pp.624 - 625

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