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The Legal Status of Religious Minorities: Imāmī Shī'ī Law and Iran's Constitutional Revolution

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image of Islamic Law and Society

This study investigates the extent to which the laws of Iran's Constitutional Revolution mark a break with Islam with regard to the legal status of religious minorities as reflected in the writings of some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Imāmī Shī ī ulamā . Whereas Shī ī law usually treated religious minorities and Shī īs differentially, some—but not all—of the Revolutionary enactments treat religious minorities as the equals of Muslims. I conclude that the legal status of some religious minorities improved only somewhat during the Revolution as compared to their status under Shī ī law. The two-faced nature of the Revolution's enactments echoes the rival forces at work. The controversy over whether religious minorities should be treated as equals was legal in nature, but no less a dispute over the orientation of Iranian society.


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