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Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the year 1979 and after the establishment of an Islamic Republic, an assembly of experts was set up to prepare the draft for a new constitutional law. In November 1979 (Ābān, 1358 of the Iranian calendar), the new constitution was presented by this assembly and gained a national consensus through a referendum held a month later in December, 1979. The most prominent feature of the new constitution was the abolition of the monarchical system in Iran and its replacement with the religious system of Velāyat-e Faqih or “Governance of the Chief Religious Jurist”. From among the other significant features of this new constitution, mention can be made of the emphasis on such ideals of the Islamic Revolution as social justice, freedom, independence, and the revival of true Islamic concepts like the Islamic Ummah (communion) and humanitarian values for honoring human rights. This constitutional law was revised in the year 1989 and it underwent some important changes as regards the pre-requisites and responsibilities of the leader, the status of the president and its relationship with the administrative, legislative, and judicial bodies, the appointment and the responsibilities of the chief of judiciary, and the authority of the Council of Guardians.

As a result of the natural course of the Islamic Revolution and on the basis of the Article 4 of the constitution, the process of the revising of the earlier laws began right from the early days of the establishment of the Islamic Republic. During this revision process efforts have been made to adapt these laws to the religious rulings or to formulate new laws based on religious-jurisprudential principles. Since the degrees of the lack of proximity that existed between the various earlier laws and their religious counterparts were varied, the revision that consequently took place, too, was of varying degrees. From among these laws, the civil law over the formulation of which care had already been taken in order to make it commensurate with religious laws as well as the legal proceedings and the registration act underwent limited changes while the criminal laws, on the other hand, underwent fundamental changes.

The formulation of the Islamic punishment laws comprising the Qisās Act, the Diyah (compensatory payment) Act, etcetera, and another act called the “Ta’zirāt Act” which had been legislated in the years 1982 and 1983 respectively were some of the important steps taken towards the formulation of comprehensive criminal laws on the basis of religious rulings. From among these laws the “Ta’zirāt Act” continues to remain intact while the other acts have been replaced by another act called the “Islamic Punishments Act” that was passed in 1991.

The establishment of a firm relationship between the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic jurisprudence (and particularly that of the Ithnā Ashari school of thought) in the past two decades has fostered a suitable environment for research on jurisprudential matters by keeping in view the social needs and the requirements of time and place. Moreover, the studies in various jurisprudential-legal disciplines have provided a suitable environment for the development of basic philosophical, historical, and sociological issues related to law and jurisprudence.

 * source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Iran Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 ,pp.627

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