The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran sets forth the cultural, social, political, and economic institutions of the Iranian society on the basis of Islamic principles and norms, which represent the earnest aspiration of the Islamic Ummah. This principal aspiration was defined by the very nature of the great Islamic Revolution of Iran and the course of struggle of the Muslim masses from its early stage to final victory, as expressed in the decisive and forceful slogans of all segments of the society, and now, at the dawn of this great victory, our nation seeks its realization wholeheartedly.
The very distinctive characteristic of this revolution, as compared with other movements taken place in Iran during the past century, is its ideological and Islamic nature. Having undergone through the Constitutional Movement against despotism and anti-colonial movement relating to the Nationalization of Oil Industry, Muslim people of Iran learned from this costly experience that the very main reason for the failure of these movements can be clearly attributed to their lack of an ideological basis.
Although the Islamic line of thought and the leadership of militant religious leaders played a major role in these movements in recent history, nonetheless, the struggles waged in the course of these movements floundered due to departure from the genuine Islamic positions. It was at this juncture that under the leadership of the eminent marji‘ taql?d (juristic authority), ?yatull?h al-‘Uîm? Imam Khumayni, the awakened conscience of the nation realized the need for pursuing an authentic Islamic ideological course in its struggles. This time, the militant ‘ulam?’ (clergy) of the country, who, in conjunction with committed intellectuals and writers, had always been in the vanguard of popular movements, found new impetus through his leadership. (The birth of this movement of the Iranian people is set at 1382, lunar year) corresponding to 1341 H. Sh. (solar Islamic calendar) or 1962.
The Dawn of the Movement
The U.S. conspiracy known as the “White Revolution”, intended to stabilize the foundations of despotic rule and reinforce political, cultural, and economic dependence of Iran on world imperialism, met with the devastating protest of Imam Khumayni, who initiated a widespread movement of the people culminating in the momentous revolution, marked with much bloodshed, of the Muslim Ummah in the month of Khurdad 1342 H. Sh. (June 1963). This revolution, which in reality marked the birth of this majestic and widespread uprising, confirmed the axial role of Imam Khumayni as Islamic leader. The firm bond between the Imam and the people endured despite his exile from Iran resulting from his protest against the humiliating law of Capitulation (which provided legal immunity for American advisers), and the Muslim nation, particularly committed intellectuals and militant ‘ulam?’, continued their struggle in the face of banishment, imprisonment, torture and even execution.
Throughout this time the conscious and responsible segment of society enlightened the people from the strongholds of mosques, the centers of religious teachings, and universities. Drawing inspiration from the revolutionary and fertile teachings of Islam, they led an unrelenting and conclusive struggle to raise the level of ideological awareness and revolutionary consciousness of the Muslim people. The despotic regime, which had begun the suppression of the Islamic movement with barbaric attacks on the Feydiyyah Theological School, Tehran University, and all other active centers of revolution, in an effort to evade the revolutionary anger of the people, resorted to the most savage and brutal measures. In these circumstances, execution by firing squads, medieval torture, and long-term imprisonment were the price our Muslim Ummah paid, marking its resolve to continue the struggle. The Islamic Revolution of Iran was sustained by the blood of hundreds of young men and women of faith who raised their cries of “All?hu akbar” (God is the Greatest) at daybreak in execution yards, or when they were gunned down by the enemy in the streets and marketplaces. Meanwhile, the regular declarations and messages of the Imam, issued on various occasions, extended and deepened the consciousness and determination of the Muslim nation.
The idea of Islamic government based upon wil?yat al-faq?h (rule of the jurist), as presented by Imam Khumayni at the height of the period of repression by the despotic regime, was pathbreaking for a genuine struggle based on Islamic teachings. It produced a new well-defined and consistent motive for the Muslim people, giving a new impetus to the struggle of militant and committed Muslims both within the country and abroad.
The movement continued on this course until, finally, popular discontent and intense public rage, caused by the mounting repression at home as well as by the exposure of the regime by the ‘ulam?’ and militant students and the reflection of the struggle at the international level, shook the foundations of the regime violently. The regime and its sponsors were compelled to tone down the repression and to “liberalize” the political atmosphere of the country. This, they imagined, will serve as a safety valve which would prevent their eventual downfall. But the people, aroused, conscious, and resolute under the decisive and unfaltering leadership of the Imam, embarked on a triumphant, unified, comprehensive, and countrywide uprising.
The Popular Outrage
The publication by the ruling regime of an outrageous article on 15 Day, 1356 (January 7, 1978) meant to malign the sanctity of the ‘ulam?’, in particular Imam Khumayni, accelerated the revolutionary movement and caused an outburst of popular outrage across the country. The regime attempted to quell the eruption of the people’s anger by silencing the protest and uprising with bloodshed, but this only quickened the pace of the Revolution. The seventh-day and fortieth-day commemorations of the martyrs of the Revolutionlike a series of steady heartbeatsadded greater vitality, intensity, fervor and solidarity to this movement all over the country. In the course of this popular movement, the employees of all government establishments took an active part in the effort to overthrow the tyrannical regime by calling a general strike and participating in street demonstrations. The widespread solidarity of men and women of all segments of society and of all political and religious persuasions played a significant role in the struggle. The women, especially, participated in large numbers and were actively involved in a most conspicuous manner at all stages of this great struggle. The common sight of mothers with infants in their arms rushing towards the scene of battle and in front of the barrels of machine-guns, indicated the essential and decisive role played in the struggle by this major segment of society.
The Price the Nation Paid
After a little more than a year of continuous and unrelenting struggle, the nascent Revolution sustained by the blood of more than 60,000 martyrs as well as 100,000 wounded and disablednot to mention billions of. tumans of damage to propertycame to bear fruit amidst cries of “Independence! Freedom! Islamic government!” This great movement, which triumphed through reliance on faith, unity, and the decisiveness of its leadership at every critical and sensitive juncture, as well as on the self-sacrificing spirit of the people, succeeded in upsetting all the calculations of imperialism and destroyed all its nexuses and institutions, thereby opening a new chapter in the history of all-embracing popular revolutions of the world.
Bahman 21 and 22, 1357 H. Sh. (February 12 and 13, 1979) witnessed the collapse of the monarchical regime and abolition of domestic tyranny and foreign domination based on it. This great victory proved to be the rebirth of Islamic government, a long-cherished desire of the Muslim people, and brought with it the glad tidings of final victory.
In the referendum on the Islamic Republic, the Iranian people, unanimously and along with the mar?ji‘ al-taql?d of Islam and the leadership, declared their final and firm decision to bring about a new political order, an Islamic Republic, by a 98.2% majority vote.
Now the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, setting forth as it does the society’s political, social, cultural, and economic institutions and their interrelationships, must now pave the way for the consolidation of the foundations of Islamic government and propound a plan for a new system of government to be established upon the ruins of the previous t?gh?t? [i.e. anti-God, profane, tyrannical] order.
The form of Government in Islam
In the view of Islam, government does not derive from the interests of a class nor does it cater to the domination of an individual or group. It represents, rather, the crystallization of the political ideal of a people sharing a common faith and outlook, organized in order to pave the way, in the process of its intellectual and ideological development, for movement towards the ultimate goalthe movement towards God. In the course of its revolutionary developments, our nation has cleansed itself of the dirt and impurities accumulated during the t?gh?t? past and purged itself of foreign ideological influences, thus returning to the authentic intellectual standpoints and world view of Islam. It now intends to establish an ideal and model society based upon Islamic norms. The mission of the Constitution is to realize the ideological objectives of the movement and to create conditions conducive to the development of Man in accordance with the sublime and universal values of Islam.
With due attention to the Islamic content of the Iranian Revolution, as a movement aimed at the triumph of all the mustaè‘af?n (oppressed) over the mustakbir?n (oppressors), the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuity of the Revolution at home and abroad. In the development of international relations in particular, the Constitution tries, with other Islamic and popular movements, to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community [in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]:
(إن هذِهِ اُمَّتُکُم اُمَّهً واحِدِةً وَأَنَا رَبُّکُم فَاعبُدُونِ)
(This community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me, [21:92])
and to sustain the continuity of the struggle for the liberation of all deprived and oppressed peoples throughout the world. With due attention to the essential character or this great movement, the Constitution guarantees the rejection of all forms of intellectual and social tyranny and economic monopoly, and aims to entrust the destinies of the people to the people themselves in order to break completely with the system of despotism. [This is in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]:
(وَيَضَعُ عَنهُم إصرَهُم والأغلال ألَّتي کانَت عَلَيهِم)
(He removes from them their burdens and the fetters that were upon them. [7:157])
In creating the political infrastructures and institutions which make the foundation of society on the basis of an ideological outlook, the righteous (s?lih?n) assume the responsibility of governing and administering the country [in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]
(إنَّ الأَرضَ يَرِثُها عِبادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ)
(Verily, My righteous servants shall inherit the earth. [21:105])
Legislation, which sets forth regulations for the administration of society, revolves around the Qur’?n and Sunnah. Accordingly, the exercise of close and earnest supervision by just, pious, and just scholars of Islam (al fugah?’ ul-‘Adil) is an absolute necessity. And as the purpose of government is to foster the development of the human being in its movement towards a Divine order [in accordance with the Qur’?nic phrase]:
(وَ إلَي الله المَصِيرُ)
(And toward God is the journeying, [3:28])
so as to bring about conditions favorable for the expression and blossoming of the human being’s innate potential for manifesting the divine dimensions of Man, [in accordance with the injunction of the Prophet],
(Mould yourselves according to the Divine morality, [Hadii?th])
This goal cannot be achieved without the active and broad participation of all segments of society in the process of social transformation.
With attention of this aspect, the Constitution provides the ground for such participation by all members of society at all stages of the political decision-making process on which the destiny of the country depends, so that in the course of man’s development towards perfection, each individual is himself involved in and responsible for the growth, advancement, and leadership of society. This is precisely the .realization of the government of the mustad’afin upon the earth [in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]:
(وَنُرِيدُ اَن نَمُنَّ عَلَي الَّذِينَ استُضعِفوا فِي الأرضِ وَنَجعَلَهُم أَئمَّةً وَنَجعَلَهُمُ الوارِثِينَ)
(And We wish to show favor to those who have been oppressed upon the earth, and to make them leaders and to make them the inheritors. [28:5])
The Wilâyah of the Just Faqîh
In keeping with [the Islamic principle of] governance (wil?yat al-amr) and the perpetual necessity of leadership (im?mah), the Constitution provides for the establishment of leadership by a qualified faq?h, recognized as Leader by the people. [This is in accordance with the had?th]:
(مَجاري الأُمُورِ بِيَدِ العُلَماء باللهِ الأُمَناءِ عَلي حَلالِهِ وَحَرامِهِ)
(The direction of [public] affairs is in the hands of those who are learned concerning God and are trustworthy in matters pertaining to what He has made lawful and unlawful. [Tuhaf ul-‘ug?l, p. 176])
Such leadership will prevent any deviation from authentic Islamic duties by the various organs of the State.
The Economy, a Means Not an End
In strengthening the foundations of the economy, the principal consideration will be the fulfillment of the human being’s material needs in the course of its overall growth and development. This principle contrasts with other economic systems where the aim is concentration and accumulation of wealth and maximization of profit. In materialist schools of thought, the economy is an end in itself, whereby it becomes a subversive, corrupting and ruinous factor in the course of man’s development. In Islam, the economy is a means, and all that is required of a means is that it should provide better efficiency in realizing the ultimate goal.
In this perspective, the economic program of Islam consists of providing the means for the expression of the multifarious creative talents of the human being. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Islamic government to furnish all citizens with equal and appropriate opportunities, to create employment, and to satisfy their essential needs, for the sake of unflagging of human development.
Women in the Constitution
Through the creation of Islamic social infrastructures, all the human resources that have hitherto been subject to multifaceted foreign exploitation shall regain their true identity and human rights. As a part of this process, it is only natural that women should benefit from a larger restitution of their rights, because of the greater oppression that they suffered under the t?gh?t? order.
The family is the fundamental unit of society and the principal nucleus for the growth and edification of the human being. Compatibility of belief and ideals is the main consideration in the establishment of the family, which provides the primary basis for man’s development and growth.
It is the duty of the Islamic government to provide the necessary facilities for the realization of this goal. Such a view of the family unit delivers women from being regarded as objects and tools for the promotion of consumerism and exploitation. Thereby, while she recovers her momentous and precious function of motherhood and of rearing human beings committed to Islamic ideals, she also assumes a pioneering social role as a fellow struggler of man in all vital areas of life, thus shouldering a more serious responsibility and enjoying a higher worth and nobility from the Islamic viewpoint.
An Army Committed to Islamic Principles
The basic criterion to be attended to in the organization and equipment of the country’s defense forces is faith and Islamic teaching. Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps are to be organized in accordance with this goal. They will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the Islamic mission of Jih?d in God’s way and of struggling for the cause of extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world:
(أَعدوا لَهُم مَااستَطَعتُم من قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِباطِ الخَيل تُرهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّاللهِ
وَعَدُوَّکُم وَءَاخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِم...)
(Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them. [8:601])
The Judiciary in the Constitution
The Judiciary is of vital importance in safeguarding the rights of the people in accordance with the course set by the Islamic movement, and for preventing deviations within the Islamic Ummah. Accordingly, provision has been made for the creation of a judicial system based on Islamic justice and constituted of judges who are just and have knowledge of the precise Islamic laws. Because of its essentially crucial nature and the need for conformity to Islamic teachings, this system must be free from every kind of unhealthy affiliations and connections. [This is in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]:
(... وَاِذاحَکَمتُم بَين النَّاسِ أَن تَحکُمُوا بُالعَدلِ...)
(And when you judge among the people, judge with justice. [4:58])
Considering the special importance of the Executive in implementing the laws and ordinances of Islam for the purpose of bringing about a society subject to equitable relations, and considering as well the necessity of this vital issue for paving the way for realization of the ultimate goal of life, the Executive must open the way for the creation of an Islamic society. Consequently, the Executive’s confinement within any kind of complex and obstructive system that delays or compromises the attainment of this objective is rejected by Islam. Therefore, the system of bureaucracy, the product and issue of t?gh?t? forms of rule, will be firmly discarded so as to establish an executive system that is more efficient and swift in fulfilling its administrative commitments.
The Mass Media
The media of mass communication, radio and television, must serve the diffusion of Islamic culture in pursuit of the progressive path of the Islamic Revolution. To this end, they should draw upon a healthy debate of different ideas, and strictly refrain from diffusing and propagating destructive and anti-Islamic traits.
It is incumbent on all to follow the principles of this law as it regards the freedom and dignity of the human race as its topmost objective and paves the way for the progress and development of the human being. It is also necessary that the Muslim Ummah should participate actively in building the Islamic society by selecting competent and faithful officials and by keeping a constant watch on their performance so as to succeed in building an Islamic society that may be a model and witness to the world’s people [in accordance with the Qur’?nic verse]:
(وَکَذلِک جَعَلناکُم اُمَّةً وَسَطاً لِتَکُونُوا شُهَداء عَلَي النَّاسِ...)
(Thus We made you a median community, that you might be witnesses to men. [2:143])
The Assembly of Experts, constituted of the people’s representatives, concluded the task of framing the Constitution on the basis of the draft proposed by the government and proposals received from various groups. It consists of twelve chapters comprising one hundred and seventy-five articles and was completed, with the above-mentioned objectives and motives, on the eve of the fifteenth century of the hijrah of the Noble Messenger, may Peace and blessings be upon him and his family, the founder of the redeeming school of Islam, hoping that this century will witness the establishment of a world government of the mustaè‘af?n and the defeat of all mustakbir?n.