Legalizing the Religious Exclusion: Emerging the Islamic Identity of the Modern Juridical Field in Iran through the Competition for Monopoly of Right in the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911)

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Reyhanenh JAVADI, Culture, Art and Communication Institute, Iran
In this paper I am concerned with the early competitions of the players of the Iranian Constitutional Revolutionary movement (1906-1911) regarding the monopoly of right in determining the Constitution and its effect on the Islamic identity of the judicial system in Iran. Accordingly, my question is “how the power struggle and the interactions of players in the Constitutional Revolution formed the Islamic identity of juridical field by effecting the first constitution through the claim for the House of Justice?” Applying Bourdieu’s account (1987) regarding the juridical field, by reviewing the writings of intellectuals, the parliamentary debates, and the text of the constitution (1906;1907), I elaborate the role of revolutionaries’ demand for the House of Justice –as their greatest claim- in the formation of a constitution with Islamic characteristics.

My answer to the question is that the players of the field of power were united over the slogan of the ambiguous demand for the House of Justice, however, they had different understanding of this demand. After the proclamation of the constitution, the competition of the intellectuals and Ulama [religious figures] for defining the supplementary fundamental law resulted in neglecting the promise of the House of Justice. More importantly, by instrumentally using the language of Sharia to promote the constitutional and modernist ideas, the secular intellectuals deprived themselves of a firm stance in the following power struggle in which traditionalist Ulama were persuading the legalization of the Islamic identity. As a result of this process of struggle in the field of power, the Iranian modern juridical field became highly dependent on and intertwined with sharia; and despite the early promises of the revolution, the continuous ongoing process of “legalizing” exclusion emerged in which the basic rights of the minorities –in particular, religious minorities as well as Muslim women– have been neglected.