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Constitution of Iran

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Constitution of the
Islamic Republic of Iran
JurisdictionIslamic Republic of Iran
Created24 October 1979
Ratified3 December 1979
Date effective3 December 1979
Government structure
Head of stateSupreme Leader
ChambersIslamic Consultative Assembly
Guardian Council
ExecutivePresident-led Government
Prime Minister (until 1989)
JudiciaryJudicial system of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Supreme Court of Iran
First legislature14 March 1980
First executive5 February 1980
Last amended28 July 1989
Author(s)Assembly of Experts for Constitution
SignatoriesConstitutional referendum by the citizens of Iran
SupersedesPersian Constitution of 1906

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran[1][2] (Persian: قانون اساسی جمهوری اسلامی ایران, Qanun-e Asasi-ye Jomhuri-ye Eslâmi-ye Iran) is the supreme law of Iran. It was adopted by referendum on 2 and 3 December 1979,[3][4] and went into force replacing the Constitution of 1906.[5] It has been amended once, on 28 July 1989.[6] The constitution was originally made up of 175 articles in 12 chapters,[7] but amended in 1989 to 177 articles in 14 chapters.[8]

It has been called a hybrid regime of theocratic and democratic elements. Articles One and Two vest sovereignty in God and Article Six "mandates popular elections for the presidency and the Majlis, or parliament."[9] Main democratic procedures and rights are subordinate to the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader, whose powers are spelled out in Chapter Eight (Articles 107–112).[9][10]


Over the course of the year 1978 Iran was subject to worsening cycles of "provocation, repression, and polarization"[11] in political unrest. It became more and more clear that the Pahlavi regime was likely to fall and that the leader of the revolution taking his regime down was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Work began on a constitution for the new Islamic state that would follow the revolution. A preliminary draft was (according to Asghar Schirazi) begun in Paris by one Hassan Habibi while Khomeini was still in exile there.[12] It was structured like the 1958 constitution of the French Fifth Republic with separation of powers among the executive, judicial and parliamentary branches.[13] An outline was presented to Khomeini in January 1979 and he brought it with him when he returned to Iran. After being reworked by two different commissions, it was published on 14 June 1979 by the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan as the official preliminary draft of the constitution.[12]

The preliminary draft differed from the final version of the constitution in a number of ways. It made no reference to velayat-e faqih, and did not "reserve any special posts for Islamic jurists" except on the guardian council where they made up a minority and were to be approved by the parliament from a list drawn up by the "highest religious authorities".[12]

Despite this, Khomeini made "only two small changes (in part to bar women from the presidency and judgeships)",[14] in the draft, and publicly stated his approval of the draft "on more than one occasion", declaring at one point that it "must be approved quickly".[12] The Council of the Islamic Revolution approved of it unanimously after examination and "declared it to be the official preliminary draft of the Revolutionary Council".[12]

What happened next is disputed. The revolutionaries' original plan was to have a Constituent Assembly of hundreds of people write the new constitution, but with this broad support for the preliminary draft, there now seemed to be a consensus in favor of a much more streamlined completion. An "Assembly of Experts" of only a few dozen members would go over the text and "present it for final ratification in a national referendum".[12]

But Baqer Moin writes of contradictions in statements by Khomeini and questions about the election of the Experts. At the same time Ayatollah was publicly declaring the draft to be `correct`, he "had already started to denounce the supporters of a `Democratic Islamic Republic,` whose ideas were enshrined in the draft", and who included the man he had appointed president, Bazargan, as `enemies of Islam.` Also dismaying Bazargan and his colleagues, was the decision by the clerical members of the Revolutionary Council, without consulting them, to have the constitution finalized by a much smaller body—an `Assembly of Experts` with 70 members, which alarmed them because with much larger constituencies and fewer candidates "it would be easier to rig the elections". If Khomeini's network succeeded in doing so, "the likelihood of dissenting voices in the Assembly could be reduced to almost nothing".[15]

During a joint summit between the members of the provisional government and the Superieur Council of Revolution with the presence of Khomeini in Qom, it was decided that an Assembly for the Final Review of the Constitution was to be established for a final evaluation of the constitution of Iran.[citation needed]

Assembly of Experts[edit]

The assembly members were voted on in the summer of 1979. Out of the "72 delegates whose election was officially recognized, 55 were clerics", almost all of them following "the line of the Imam", i.e. Khomeini loyalists.[16] (Other delegates were from different minorities of religions, scientists, Athletes.)[citation needed]

Schirazi writes that Khomeini then announced that the job of "determining whether or not" the constitution was "in conformity with Islamic requirements" was "exclusively reserved for revered jurists",[17] to the surprise of those outside his network. Also at odds with previous statements was that instead of quickly approving the draft, the Assembly for the Final Review of the Constitution (dominated by Khomeini supporters) rewrote it, adding a Guardian Jurist (wali-e faqih) leader with powers over other branches of government, and significantly increasing the power of the Council of Guardians.[18] (The offices of the President and the Prime Minister were retained for the executive branch of government from the French model.)[19]

A different version of events comes from Shaul Bakhash, who writes that Khomeini and his supporters accepted the preliminary draft but were provoked by an "opposition determined to establish a secular state".[14] A secularist group calling itself a "Seminar on the People's Expectations from the Constitution", called for changes in the draft: "a ceremonial president, supremacy of parliament, independent judiciary, individual rights, and equal rights for women, proposed making the universal declaration of Human Rights part of the constitution, more decentralization, and `democratization` of the army".[20] This led "Khomeini to spur the Islamic groups to counterattack', telling his supporters that the determination of whether articles of the constitution meet Islamic criteria `lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the leading Islamic jurists,` and non-jurists should not get involved. "It quickly became clear to Khomeini and his lieutenants that there existed considerable support and no mass opposition to the doctrine and that the constitution could serve to institutionalize both the supremacy of the faqih and clerical rule."[21] The idea that Khomeini "should be entrusted with supreme authority under the constitution" was brought up by provincial clerics in the Assembly and was quickly embraced by the Assembly.[21]

The assembly worked for sixty-seven sessions and in four rounds. The first round was considered with a preliminary evaluating of principles. The second round considered with providing principles in groups. The third round dealt with approbation of principles and the fourth round with investigation of all collection of principles.[citation needed]

According to a legal bill of council of revolution, the draft was put to a vote through a referendum, with voters given the option of voting yes or no. On 2–3 December 1979 Iranians voted, and the official result was over 99% in favor. (The vote was boycotted by some secular, leftist and Kurdish groups; and total of 15,578,956 votes was almost 5 million less than the earlier referendum for an Islamic Republic.)[22]

1989 Amendments[edit]

On 24 April 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a decree convening an Assembly for Revising the Constitution. It made several changes in the constitution, in Articles 5, 107, 109, 111, eliminating the need for the Supreme Leader to be a Marja' chosen by popular acclaim.[23] It made permanent the Expediency Discernment Council to work out disagreements between the Parliament and Council of Guardians, and eliminated the post of Prime Minister. The amendment concerning qualifications for the Supreme Leader is thought to have been introduced and approved because no marja' had given strong support for Khomeini's policies.[24] The amendments were approved by the voting public on 28 July 1989 (in same election as Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected to the first of two terms as President of Iran).[25]

Islamic principles[edit]

Velayat-e Faqih[edit]

While liberal and leftist values are present in the constitution, the overriding both are "the values, principles and institutions of an ideal Islamic society",[26] The Ayatollah Khomeini's concept of Velayat-e Faqih, i.e. Guardianship or rule of the Islamic Jurist, is enshrined in several places in the constitution.[26] One example is the section "Method of Governance in Islam" in the preamble, where it is stated

in creating the political infrastructures and institutions which make the foundation of society on the basis of an ideological outlook, the righteous assume the responsibility of governing and administering the country with the Qur’anic verse (verily, my righteous servants shall inherit the earth Q.21:105)

In case the term ‘righteous’ is ambiguous, a later section of the Preamble (Guardianship of the Jurist) states

On the basis of continuous Guardianship and Leadership (Imamate) the Constitution provides for leadership under all conditions, (by a person) recognized by the people as lender, so that there shall be security against deviation by various organizations ("The course of affairs is in the hands of those who know God and who are trustworthy in matters having to do with what he permits and forbids")[8][26]

Article 109, stipulates that the Leader must possess the "scholarship, as required for performing the functions of mufti in different fields of fiqh", i.e. only a high level cleric of Islamic law may be the Leader. Article 113 states the Leader is the highest public official in Islamic Republic of Iran.[26] The Head of Judiciary, who has considerable power (Establishing the organizational structure of the Judiciary, Drafting judiciary bills for parliament, hiring, dismissing, transferring judges) must be an Islamic legal cleric (mujtahid); as must be the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General (Article 162), and six out of the twelve members of the Guardian Council who are appointed by the Leader (Article 91) and have the power to veto legislation from the parliament that they believe does not conform to sharia (Article 96).[26]


Hassan Vakilian cites Article 4:

civil, penal financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. This principle applies absolutely and generally to all articles of the Constitution as well as to all other laws and regulations…

as evidence "Sharia laws and principles" ("Islamic criteria" in the article above) "must be considered as a main source of the legal order" in the constitution.[26] Sharia is referred to numerous times in the constitution but often by another terms (as it is above):

  • In the Preamble: "Islamic principles", "Islamic rules", "Islamic standards", "Islamic program", "Rules of Islamic codes", "Islamic ordinances and regulations";[26]
  • In articles 110, 147, 151, 167, 171, 175 and 177 "Islamic criteria".[26]
  • Other terms used are "Islamic law" (Article 45), "Islamic ordinances" (Article 91), "Islamic regulations" (Article 107), "Norms and principles of Islamic justice" (Article 14), "Principles and commandments of official religion" (Article 85), "Principles of Sharia" (Article 112), "Criteria of Fiqh" (Article 163), "Islamic sources and authentic fatwa" (Article 167).[26]


The preamble or introduction of the constitution touches on (its version of) events leading up to the revolution and on key features of the new Islamic regime:

How the "anti-despotic movement for constitutional government [1906–1911], and anti-colonialist movement for the nationalization of petroleum" in the 1950s failed "due to departure from genuine Islamic positions"; a matter rectified by the "authentically Islamic and ideological line" under the leadership pursued under the leadership of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.[7]

How the movement dawned in June 1963 with "the devastating protest by Imam Khomeini against the American conspiracy known as the 'White Revolution'".[7]
The plan of Islamic government set forth by Imam Khomeini known as "governance of the faqih".[7]
The fury of the Iranian people at a January 7, 1978 newspaper article insulting Imam Khomeini.[7]
The "watering" of the "sapling" of the revolution "by the blood of 60,000 martyrs".
How 98.2% of voters approved of Iran becoming an Islamic Republic.[7]

Our nation "intends to establish the ideal and model society" with the final goal of "movement toward God".[7]
Governance by the "just faqih" will prevent deviation of the government from essential Islamic duties.[7]
The economy in Islam will be "a means not an end", providing work, "suitable opportunities", "essential needs".[7]
The family is "the fundamental unit of society" within which women will recover their "precious function of motherhood".[7]
The Army and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are responsible not only for guarding the country but for "fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God's path".[7]
The judicial system will be based on Islamic justice.[7] The executive branch will implement "the laws and ordinances of Islam".[7]
"Mass communications media" will diffuse Islamic culture and refrain from anti-Islamic "qualities".[7]

The "central axis" of the theocracy shall be Quran and hadith, and as framed by the Assembly of Experts for Constitution, who hope that "this century will witness the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others."[27] (See also: Mahdi and Mohammed al-Mahdi)

Chapter I [Article 1 to 14]: General principles[edit]

Some of the more important articles of the constitution are described below:

Article 1 (Form of government)[edit]

The form of Government in Iran is that of an Islamic Republic following the Islamic revolution led by Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, affirmed by the referendum of Farvardin 9 and 10.

Article 2 (Foundation)[edit]

The Islamic Republic is a system based on the belief in:[28]

  1. One God (as stated in the phrase "There is no god except Allah"), who has exclusive sovereignty and right to legislate, and whose commands must be submitted to;
  2. the fundamental role of divine revelation in setting forth the laws;
  3. the return to Allah after death and resurrection, and the constructive role of this belief has in the course of man's ascent toward Allah;
  4. the justice of Allah in creation and legislation;
  5. continuous leadership and perpetual guidance, and its fundamental role in ensuring the uninterrupted process of the revolution of Islam;
  6. the exalted dignity and value of man, and his freedom coupled with responsibility before God; in which equity, justice, political, economic, social, and cultural independence, and national solidarity are secured by recourse to:
  1. continuous Ijtihad of Islamic jurists possessing necessary qualifications, exercised on the basis of the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad;
  2. sciences and arts and the most advanced results of human experience, together with the effort to advance them further;
  3. negation of all forms of oppression, both the infliction of and the submission to it, and of dominance, both its imposition and its acceptance.

Article 3 (State goals)[edit]

The duty of the Islamic Republic is to direct all of its resources to a number of goals.

  1. Support of faith and piety and struggle against vice and corruption
  2. Raising of public awareness through the proper use of the mass media and press
  3. Free education
  4. Free physical training
  5. Strengthening advanced scientific research
  6. The elimination of imperialism and foreign influence
  7. The elimination of despotism, autocracy and monopoly
  8. Ensure social and political freedoms within the law
  9. The end to all forms of undesirable discrimination
  10. The elimination of unnecessary governmental organizations
  11. Universal military training

These goals were designed to emphasize positive liberty.

Some of the goals are put in context of the requirements of Islam. For example:

  1. The planning of a correct and just economic system
  2. The expansion of Islamic brotherhood among all peoples
  3. The creation of the government's foreign policy

Article 4 (Islamic Principle)[edit]

All laws and regulations "absolutely and generally" must be based on Islamic criteria. Enforcing this will be the Islamic jurists (fuqaha') and the Council of Guardians.

Constitution compared to traditional Islam[edit]

Olivier Roy points out that traditionally sharia was the "sole foundation for the judicial norm", not constitutions which were secular. Khomeini himself specifically affirmed the preeminence of the Islamic state over sharia in January 1989 when he publicly dressed down the future Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei, pronouncing the opposite.

On key questions Iranian law remains fairly un-Islamic. The constitution grants equal rights among men and women (article 20). The discretionary law of repudiation was not recognized for men. There is no legal discrimination on the basis of personal status against Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, all of whom perform military service, pay no special taxes and hold full citizenship; nevertheless they are prohibited from assuming leadership posts and vote in separate colleges. Similarly, a Muslim foreigner has the same status as a Christian foreigner. In short Iranian citizenship is not an Islamic notion. Finally, Iran has kept the solar calendar and celebrates the new year on March 21.[29]

Article 5 (Religious leader's office)[edit]

During the occultation of the Twelfth Imam, the Ummah (Islamic community) must be led by a just and pious, courageous, resourceful faqih (Islamic jurist) knowledgeable about affairs of the day, in accordance with Article 107.

Article 12 (Official religion)[edit]

"The official religion of Iran is Islam"—specifically of the Twelver Shi'ism in Usul al-Dîn and of the Ja'farî school in fiqh, -- "and this principle will remain eternally immutable."

Article 13 (Recognized religious minorities)[edit]

"Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities", who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education.

Article 14 (Non-Muslims)[edit]

"The government ... and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims" with "Islamic justice and equity", provided those non-Muslims "refrain from engaging in conspiracy or activity against Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Chapter II [Article 15 to 18]: Language, script, calendar and flag[edit]

Article 15 (Official language)[edit]

The "Official language and writing script (of Iran)... is Persian. In addition "regional and tribal languages" are allowed "in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools"

Article 16 (Arabic education)[edit]

"Since the language of the Qur'an and Islamic texts ... is Arabic", Arabic "must be taught ... in school from elementary grades until the end of high school."

Article 17 (Official calendar)[edit]

The official calendar of Iran is the Solar Hijri calendar, which combines a year zero from the Islamic Hijri calendar, and organization of months according to the Iranian solar calendar. "The official weekly holiday is Friday. Both the solar and lunar Islamic calendars are recognized".

Article 18 (Official flag)[edit]

The official flag of Iran is composed of green, white and red colours with the special emblem of the Islamic Republic, together with the motto (Allahu Akbar).

Chapter III [Article 19 to 42]: Rights[edit]

Article 20 (Women's rights)[edit]

Women will enjoy equal legal, "human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights", when "in conformity with Islamic criteria".

Article 22 (Individual rights)[edit]

"The dignity, life, property, rights," etc. "of the individual are inviolate", "except in cases sanctioned by law".

Article 23 (Individual beliefs)[edit]

The Iranian constitution holds that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Article 24 (Publications and the press)[edit]

"Publications and the press are free to discuss issues" unless it is "deemed harmful to the principles of Islam or the rights of the public."[30]

Article 27 (Freedom of assembly)[edit]

Assembly is allowed, "provided arms are not carried" and the assemblies "are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam".

Article 37 (Presumption of innocence)[edit]

"Innocence is to be presumed, ... unless his or her guilt has been established by a competent court."

Article 29 (Welfare benefits)[edit]

It is a "universal right" of all to enjoy social insurance or other forms of security for "retirement, unemployment, old-age disability", lack of guardianship, being a wayfarer, accident and the need for health and treatment services and medical care. The government, in accordance with the laws and by drawing on national revenues, is required to provide such insurance and economic protection to each and every citizen of the country.

Article 38 (Torture is forbidden)[edit]

"All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credence. Violation of this article is liable to punishment in accordance with the law."[8]

Comment: Torture in the Islamic Republic[edit]

Videotaped confessions and "ideological recantations" by opponents of the regime are very common on Iranian broadcast television. The government denies using torture (shekanjeh) to elicit these statements, but Human Rights Watch calls torture and other ill-treatment "widespread and systematic" in Iran. Historian Ervand Abrahamian[31] describes on way the government has found to skirt the explicit ban on torture and coerced confessions in the Constitution,[32] by using Ta'zir or "Discretionary Punishment" of up to 74 lashes for lying to authorities.

The prisoners are asked questions. If their answers are not satisfactory, they can be lawfully whipped for `lying`. In theory, this punishment should come after a proper law court has found them guilty of perjury. But the line between interrogation and trial is hazy as the same clerics wear three different turbans – prosecutor, judge, and interrogator.[33]

"The new regime has often told UN delegations that ta'zir should not be equated with torture because it is sanctioned by the sharia and administered by qualified magistrates."[32]

Chapter IV [Article 43 to 55]: Financial affairs[edit]

Article 44[edit]

"The economy of Iran is to consist of three sectors: state, cooperative, and private; and is to be based on systematic and sound planning." "All large-scale and mother industries, foreign trade, major minerals, banking, insurance, power generation, dams, and large-scale irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and telephone services, aviation, shipping, roads, railroads and the like" are to be entirely owned by the government. This article was amended in 2004 to allow for privatization.[34][35][36]

Article 49 (Ill-gotten wealth)[edit]

"The government has the responsibility of confiscating all wealth accumulated through usury, usurpation, bribery, embezzlement, theft, gambling, misuse of endowments, misuse of government contracts and transactions, the sale of uncultivated lands and other resources subject to public ownership, the operation of centers of corruption, and other illicit means and sources, and restoring it to its legitimate owner; and if no such owner can be identified, it must be entrusted to the public treasury. This rule must be executed by the government with due care, after investigation and furnishing necessary evidence in accordance with the law of Islam."

Article 50 (Environment)[edit]

Protecting the environment is "a public duty" and economic activity that degrades or causes irreversible harm to the environment is forbidden.

Chapter V [Article 56 to 61]: Right of national sovereignty[edit]

The executive, judicial, and legislative branches are separate powers and supervised by the leadership (Article 57); Pursuant to Article 60, the president fulfills "executive" functions "except in the matters that are directly placed under the jurisdiction of the [Leader]" as enumerated in Article 110. Suspension of elections is allowed during wartime (Article 68).

Chapter VI [Article 62 to 99]: Legislative powers[edit]

Representatives of the people to be members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly will be elected directly and by secret ballot (Article 62),

Term of membership in the Islamic Consultative Assembly is four years (Article 63),

There are to be 270 members, for minority religions, Zoroastrians and Jews will each elect one representative; Assyrian and Chaldean Christians will jointly elect one representative; and Armenian Christians in the north and those in the south of the country will each elect one representative (Article 64),

Deliberations of the Islamic Consultative Assembly must be open, and full minutes of them made available to the public (Article 69),

The Islamic Consultative Assembly cannot enact laws contrary to the usul and ahkam of the official religion of the country or to the Constitution. It is the duty of the Guardian Council to determine whether a violation has occurred, in accordance with Article 96 (Article 72).

Article 81 (Foreign business)[edit]

Multinational corporations are forbidden from taking over certain businesses in Iran: "concessions to foreigners or the formation of companies" in Iran is forbidden.

Article 91 (Guardian Council)[edit]

A "Guardian Council" is to "examine the compatibility of the legislations passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly with Islam". The council is to be made up of:

  1. six 'adil fuqaha' (just Islamic jurists), "conscious of the present needs and the issues of the day, to be selected by the Leader", and
  2. six jurists, "specializing in different areas of law, to be elected by the Islamic Consultative Assembly from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power".

Article 99[edit]

The Guardian Council has the responsibility of supervising the elections of the Assembly of Experts for Leadership, the President of the Republic, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and the direct recourse to popular opinion and referenda.

Chapter VII [Article 100 to 106]: Local councils[edit]

Article 100[edit]

"Each village, division, city, municipality, and province will be supervised by a council" to "expedite social, economic, development, public health, cultural, and educational programmes" etc. "according to local needs". Members of these councils "will be elected by the people of the locality".

Article 101[edit]

In order to prevent discrimination and secure the cooperation, and arrange for the supervision, a Supreme Council of the Provinces will be formed, composed of representatives of the Provincial Councils.

Article 102[edit]

The Supreme Council of the Provinces may draft bills and submit them to the Islamic Consultative Assembly,

Article 103[edit]

Provincial governors, city governors, divisional governors, and other officials appointed by the government must abide by all decisions taken by the councils within their jurisdiction.

Article 104[edit]

In order to ensure Islamic equity and cooperation, councils consisting of the representatives of the workers, peasants, other employees, and managers, will be formed in educational, administrative, industrial and other units, composed of representatives of the members of those units.

Article 105[edit]

Decisions taken by the councils must not be contrary to the criteria of Islam and the laws of the country.

Article 106[edit]

The councils may not be dissolved unless they deviate from their legal duties.

Chapter VIII [Article 107 to 112]: Leader and leadership council[edit]

Article 107 (Fuqaha)[edit]

After the death of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, the Experts shall choose a new leader from among the fuqaha possessing qualities specified in articles 5 and 105. It also states that the leader is legally equal to the populace.

Background and comments[edit]

Before the 1989 amendments to the constitution, Article 107 called for the leader to be someone who was "accepted as a marja' and Leader by a decisive majority of the people", and if such a person could not be found, to appoint a "leadership council" made up of marja'[37] In his book Islamic Government: Guardianship of the Jurist, Khomeini had argued that "only the most senior religious jurists -- not just any cleric -- had the scholastic expertise and the educational training to fully comprehend the intricacies of Islamic jurisprudence."[38] According to historian Ervand Abrahamian, the original constitution also declared that "the leadership clauses, especially those stipulating that ultimate authority resides in the senior religious jurists [marja'], were to endure until the Mahdi, the Lord of the Age, reappears on earth."[39]

They were amended nonetheless because the Assembly of Experts that would choose the next leader knew "well that the senior jurists distrusted their version of Islam", i.e. Khomeini and his supporters interpretation of Islam.[40] Abrahamian argues that this "unwittingly undermined the intellectual foundations" of the jurist's roll as guardian.[38] Another scholar (Olivier Roy) called the change "an end to the logic of the Islamic revolution" for the same reason.[41]

Article 110 (Supreme Leader's duties and powers)[edit]

The constitution accords many powers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, including:

  1. Delineation of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after consultation with the Nation's Exigency Council.
  2. Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the system.
  3. Issuing decrees for national referenda.
  4. Assuming supreme command of the armed forces.
  5. Declaration of war and peace, and the mobilization of the armed forces.
  6. Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
    1. the fuqaha' on the Guardian Council.
    2. the supreme judicial authority of the country.
    3. the head of the radio and television network of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    4. the chief of the joint staff.
    5. the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
    6. the supreme commanders of the armed forces.
  7. Resolving differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation of their relations.
  8. Resolving the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through the Nation's Exigency Council.
  9. Signing the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic by the people. The suitability of candidates for the Presidency of the Republic, with respect to the qualifications specified in the Constitution, must be confirmed before elections take place by the Guardian Council, and, in the case of the first term [of the Presidency], by the Leadership;
  10. Dismissal of the President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Islamic Consultative Assembly testifying to his incompetence on the basis of Article 89 of the Constitution.
  11. Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria, on a recommendation [to that effect] from the Head of judicial power. The Leader may delegate part of his duties and powers to another person.

Human rights groups have argued that the Supreme Leader's powers extend beyond those specifically enumerated in the Constitution because he can use "Islamic issues for justification."[42]

Article 111 (Removal and replacement)[edit]

Under some circumstances, such as incapacity, a leader can be removed or replaced.

Article 112 (Expediency)[edit]

If a proposed bill of Majles is "against the principles of Shariah or the Constitution," then the Guardian Council should meet with the Expediency Council to resolve the legislative deadlock.

Chapter IX [Article 113 to 151]: Executive power[edit]

The president is the second-highest office holder (Article 114),

elected for a four-year term (Article 114).

He must be of Iranian origin and nationality and a Twelver Shi'i, have administrative capacity and resourcefulness, virtues of trustworthiness and piety, stay loyal to the principles of the Islamic Republic (Article 115)

and declare his candidacy officially (Article 116).

Elections will have a second run-off round if there is no majority in the first round (Article 117),

will be supervised by the Guardian Council (Article 118)

and must take place no later than one month before the end of the term of the outgoing president. (Article 119),

Article 146 (Forbidden military bases)[edit]

Foreign military bases in Iran, even for peaceful purposes, are forbidden.

Chapter X [Article 152 to 155]: Foreign policy[edit]

Article 152[edit]

The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based upon the rejection of all forms of domination, both the exertion of it and submission to it, the preservation of the independence of the country in all respects and its territorial integrity, the defence of the rights of all Muslims, non-alignment with respect to the hegemonic superpowers, and the maintenance of mutually peaceful relations with all non-belligerent States.[43][44]

Article 153[edit]

Any form of agreement resulting in foreign control over the natural resources, economy, army, or culture of the country, as well as other aspects of the national life, is forbidden.[43][44]

Article 154[edit]

The ideal of the Islamic Republic of Iran is independence, justice, truth, and felicity among all people of the world. Accordingly, it supports the just struggles of the Mustad'afun (oppressed) against the Mustakbirun (oppressors) in every corner of the globe.[43][44]

Article 155[edit]

The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran may grant political asylum to those who seek it and are worthy of it.[43][44]

Chapter XI [Article 156 to 174]: Judiciary[edit]

Article 156[edit]

Duties of the Judiciary:

  1. investigating and resolving grievances, violations of rights, and complaints;
  2. promoting justice and freedom;
  3. supervising law enforcement;
  4. investigating, prosecuting, and punishing, crimes;
  5. crime prevention and reforming criminals

Article 157[edit]

The Leader shall appoint the head of the judiciary

Article 158[edit]

The head of the judiciary shall be responsible for the establishing the structure for the administration of justice; draft bills on the judiciary; appointing, dismissing, transferring judges (Article 158),

Article 159[edit]

Grievances and complaints will be referred to the courts

Article 161[edit]

The Supreme Court will "supervise the correct implementation of the laws by the courts", ensure "uniformity of judicial procedure";

Article 162[edit]

The chief of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor-General must both be just mujtahids (Islamic jurisprudents). They will be nominated by the head of the judiciary branch for a period of five years, in consultation with the judges of the Supreme Court;

Article 164[edit]

Judges cannot be removed from office except by trial and conviction, or by being dismissed in consequence of a violation;

Article 165[edit]

Trials are to be open to the public; unless detrimental to public morality or discipline, or in case of private disputes;

Article 167[edit]

Verdicts of courts must be well reasoned out and documented (Article 166),
Judges must make use of "Islamic sources and...verdicts " in matters where the Iranian law books are silent;

Article 168[edit]

"Political and press offences will be tried openly ... in accordance with the Islamic criteria";

Article 169[edit]

"No act or omission may be regarded as a crime with retrospective effect on the basis of a law framed subsequently";

Article 170[edit]

Judges may not execute statutes and regulations that conflict with the laws or the norms of Islam;

Article 171[edit]

When there is a moral or material loss as the result of an incorrect ruling of a judge the defaulting judge must stand surety for the reparation of that loss in accordance with the Islamic criteria;

Article 172[edit]

Military courts will be established to investigate crimes committed in connection with military or security duties by members of the military or security;

Article 174[edit]

The National General Inspectorate will "supervise the proper conducting of affairs and the correct implementation of laws by the administrative organs of the government".

Chapter XII [Article 175]: Radio and television[edit]

This article guarantees the freedom of expression and dissemination of thoughts in the "Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran" when keeping with the Islamic criteria and best interests of the country. It gives the Leader the power to appoint and dismiss the head of the "Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and establishes a council with two representatives (six in total) from each branch of the government to supervise this organization.[45]

Chapter XIII [Article 176]: Supreme Council for National Security[edit]

Chapter 8, which has only one article, establishes Iran's National Security Council. "The Council shall consist of: heads of three branches of the government, chief of the Supreme Command Council of the Armed Forces, the officer in charge of the planning and budget affairs, two representatives nominated by the Leader, ministers of foreign affairs, interior, and information, a minister related with the subject, and the highest-ranking officials from the Armed Forces and the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps."

Chapter XIV [Article 177]: Revisions[edit]

To revise the constitution, the Leader must "issue an edict to the President after consultation with the Nation's Exigency Council stipulating the amendments or additions to be made by the Council for Revision of the Constitution which consists of:

  1. Members of the Guardian Council.
  2. Heads of the three branches of the government.
  3. Permanent members of the Nation's Exigency Council.
  4. Five members from among the Assembly of Experts.
  5. Ten representatives selected by the Leader.
  6. Three representatives from the Council of Ministers.
  7. Three representatives from the judiciary branch.
  8. Ten representatives from among the members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
  9. Three representatives from among the university professors.

Whatever this Council and the Leader agree on will be put to a national referendum and amend the constitution if it receives an absolute majority vote. (Unlike referenda under Article 59, where referendum must be approved by a supermajority of the Islamic Consultative Assembly before going to a vote.)[46]

Parts of the constitution that cannot be amended: "Articles of the Constitution related to the Islamic character of the political system; the basis of all the rules and regulations according to Islamic criteria; the religious footing; the objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran; the democratic character of the government; the wilayat al-'amr; the Imamate of Ummah; and the administration of the affairs of the country based on national referenda, official religion of Iran [Islam] and the school [Twelver Ja'fari]".[47]


This article itself was a revision to the Constitution, so the constitution was amended in 1989 without this chapter allowing amendments being a part of the constitution.[47]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "قانون". Archived from the original on 7 December 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2006.
  2. ^ "Constitution". Islamic Parliament of Iran. Parliran.ir. Archived from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  3. ^ Mahmood T. Davari (1 October 2004). The Political Thought of Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari: An Iranian Theoretician of the Islamic State. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-134-29488-6.
  4. ^ Eur (31 October 2002). The Middle East and North Africa 2003. Psychology Press. p. 414. ISBN 978-1-85743-132-2.
  5. ^ Constitutional Background Archived 7 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine Hauser Global Law School Program
  6. ^ "Constitutional Background". Archived from the original on 8 September 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Introduction". Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Translated by Hamid Algar. Berkeley: Mizan Press. 1980.
  8. ^ a b c "Constitution. Iran (Islamic Republic of) 1979 (rev. 1989)". Constitute. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b Francis Fukuyama (28 July 2009). "Francis Fukuyama: Iranian constitution democratic at heart – WSJ". WSJ. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  10. ^ Richard Horowitz. "A Detailed Analysis of Iran's Constitution – World Policy Institute" (PDF). worldpolicy.org. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  11. ^ Kepel, Gilles, Jihad : the Trail of Political Islam, Harvard, 2002, p. 111
  12. ^ a b c d e f Asghar Schirazi (1997). The Constitution of Iran : Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic. I.B. Tauris. pp. 19–23.
  13. ^ Abrahamian, Khomeinism, 1993, p. 33
  14. ^ a b The Reign of the Ayatollahs : Iran and the Islamic Revolution by Shaul Bakhash New York, Basic Books, 1984, p. 74
  15. ^ Moin, Baqer, Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah, (Thomas Dunne Books), c2000, pp. 216–7
  16. ^ Asghar Schirazi (1997). The Constitution of Iran : Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic. I.B. Tauris. p. 32.
  17. ^ Asghar Schirazi (1997). The Constitution of Iran : Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic. I.B. Tauris. p. 33.
  18. ^ Asghar Schirazi (1997). The Constitution of Iran : Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic. I.B. Tauris. pp. 33–51.
  19. ^ "Iran Chamber Society: Civil Society and the Rule of Law in the Constitutional Politics of Iran Under Khatami –Iranian president Mohammad Khatami". iranchamber.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2006.
  20. ^ The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash, pp. 76–77
  21. ^ a b (p. 82 The Reign of the Ayatollahs by Shaul Bakhash)
  22. ^ Asghar Schirazi (1997). The Constitution of Iran : Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic. I.B. Tauris. p. 52.
  23. ^ Moin, Baqer, Khomeini, (2001), p. 293
  24. ^ Brumberg, Daniel, Reinventing Khomeini: The Struggle for Reform in Iran by Daniel Brumberg, University of Chicago Press 2001, p. 146
  25. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, History of Modern Iran, Columbia University Press, 2008, p. 183
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vakilian, Hassan (2021). "Constitutional Utopianism: a Case Study of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: a Case Study of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran" (PDF). Forum Prawnicze. 6 (68): 47–62. doi:10.32082/fp.6(68).2021.903 (inactive 31 January 2024).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  27. ^ Framers' agenda -- Dead link! Archived 4 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Constitution of Iran Archived 21 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine Unofficial English translation hosted at University of Bern, Switzerland (with good summaries)
  29. ^ Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, 1994, pp. 177–8
  30. ^ Papan-Matin, Firoozeh (27 September 2013). "Translation of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1989 Edition)" (PDF). Iranian Studies. 47 (1): 159–200. doi:10.1080/00210862.2013.825505. S2CID 154138008.
  31. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions by Ervand Abrahamian, University of California Press, 1999 p.4
  32. ^ a b Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions by Ervand Abrahamian, University of California Press, 1999 pp. 137–8
  33. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions by Ervand Abrahamian, University of California Press, 1999 p. 133
  34. ^ "Public Information Notice: IMF Executive Board Concludes 2005 Article IV Consultation with the Islamic Republic of Iran". International Monetary Fund. 27 March 2006. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017.
  35. ^ "PSO Committed to Privatization". Economic Focus. Iran Daily. 28 November 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  36. ^ "BBCPersian.com". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  37. ^ "8. The Leader or Leadership Council". Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran [unamended]. Translated by Hamid Algar. Berkeley: Mizan Press. 1980. p. 66.
  38. ^ a b Abrahamian, Khomeinism, pp. 34–5
  39. ^ Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p. 33
  40. ^ Abrahamian, p. 34
  41. ^ Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, 1994, p. 179
  42. ^ JURIST – Iran: Iranian Law, Legal Research, Human Rights
  43. ^ a b c d "The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapter X". Iran Chamber Society. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  44. ^ a b c d "Persian text of constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran". rc.majlis.ir. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  45. ^ "The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapters XII & XIII". Iran Chamber Society.
  46. ^ "The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapter V". Iran Chamber Society.
  47. ^ a b "The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapter XIV". Iran Chamber Society.

External links[edit]