By Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Richard Tapper
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Additional info for Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform
The Special Clergy Court (dadgah-e vizheh-e rowhaniyat) was formed at Ayatollah Khomeini’s order in the aftermath of the revolution in order to try clerics associated with the previous regime. It was revived in 1987 to convict Mehdi Hashemi, a close associate of Ayatollah Montazeri. Its formation then was disputed as unconstitutional; and in 1988, in a letter to parliament, Khomeini suggested that the court should be aligned with the mandates of the constitution, but only after the Iraq war ended.
52 ISLAM AND THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY 35 such a sphere. Indeed, attempts to narrow the scope of the debate, and to confine it to ‘Islam and the constitution’, polarized the opposition between conservatives and reformists and sharpened the contrast between their visions of Islam and readings of the constitution. For the conservatives, fiqh has answers to all the problems of society; their vision of Islam, premised on notions of ‘duty’ and ‘obedience’, is legalistic and absolutist, tolerates no dissent and makes little concession to the people’s will and contemporary realities.
In other words, while the Sharia is sacred, universal and eternal, fiqh, like any other system of jurisprudence, is local, multiple and subject to change in its doctrines and premises. 45 The second distinction is one made in all schools of Islamic law between the two main categories of legal rulings: ‘ibadat (ritual/spiritual acts) and mu‘amilat (social/private contracts). Rulings of the first category, ‘ibadat, regulate relations between God and the believer, and See Cooper (1998), Kurzman (2001), Ghamari-Tabrizi (2004) For this distinction, see Kamali (1989: 216).
Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform by Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Richard Tapper