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Mofsed-e-filarz (Persian: مفسد فی الارض, also Mofsed fel-Arz, Arabic: المفسد في الأرض ) is the title of capital crime (or person guilty of the crime) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, that has been translated in English language sources variously as "spreading corruption on Earth",[1] "spreading corruption that threatens social and political well-being",[2] "corrupt of the earth; one who is charged with spreading corruption,"[3] "gross offenders of the moral order",[4] and "enemies of God on Earth."[5]

In classical sharia law, this crime is known as fasad-fel-arz.

According to scholar John Esposito, the term is used in the Quran to refer to “corrupt conditions, caused by unbelievers and unjust people, that threaten social and political well-being.”[6] It is found in Quran in the verse

They said, "O Zul-Qarnain, Gog and Magog are corruptors of the earth. Can we pay you to create a barrier between us and them?"[Quran 18:94][4]

The crime is similar to "moharebeh" (civil unrest/waging war on God and people), and offenders have been charged with both crimes. The charge as enforced by the Islamic Republic of Iran has been called "a catchall indictment of political dissent" and carries the death sentence.[7] According to at least one source, Mofsed-e-filarz was first introduced as a crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini.[8]

The charge was used by Islamic Republican judicial authorities in the early days of the Iranian Revolution, resulting in many imprisonments and executions. Possibly more than 8,000 people suffered that fate, ranging from former members of the Shah's government, leaders of opposition or terrorist groups, or simply opponents of the regime,[9] against Baha’i leaders on a number of occasions,[10] and in February 2011 a large majority of members of the Iranian parliament called for the prosecution and execution of Iranian opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi on the charge of mofsed-e-filarz.[7]


  1. ^ The Last Holdouts, 10, September 2008
  2. ^ MPs demand death for opposition leaders,, 15 February 2011
  3. ^ Post-revolutionary politics in Iran: religion, society, and power By Daṿid Menashri
  4. ^ a b Language and culture in Persian, Paul Sprauchman,
  5. ^ Hardliner Repression of Iranians Online, September 10, 2008
  6. ^ On Mofsed fel-Arz – Spreading Corruption on Earth By Geoffrey Cameron, May 15th, 2009, quoting The Oxford Dictionary of Islam
  7. ^ a b Iran Lawmakers Want Opposition Leaders Killed, ALAN COWELL and NEIL MacFARQUHAR,, February 15, 2011
  8. ^ On Mofsed fel-Arz – Spreading Corruption on Earth, By Geoffrey Cameron, May 15th, 2009]
  9. ^ Detained Protesters Threatened with Execution, ICHRI, 4 January 2010
  10. ^ Baha’i Leaders Remain Unjustly Detained After One Year, ICHRI, 14 May 2009