Interpreting the Codification of Sharīʿa Law into the New Legal System in the Making of the Persian Constitutional Revolution: A Critical Introduction to Two Original Pieces

By Jafar Shokrolah Zadeh


This study is motivated by the complicated codification of sharīʿa law into the new modern legal system in the aftermath of the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906. Implementing a modern legal system and outplacing a system with enormously influential Islamic maxims, borrowing rules from predominantly sharīʿa law at the time, was an absolutely unprecedented phenomenon in reforming the legal establishment as well as in reframing an understanding of the Persian traditional “justice system” in the history of modern Iran. Employing Marshall Hodgson’s words, achieving to implement the ideals of such a legal system could be considered nothing short of “a new overall cultural orientation within Islamdom.”[1] In pursuing the first part of this research, which has been an ongoing project, I would like to introduce and address the primary role of the legal treatise Yik Kalima (One Word), one of the most eminent initiatives in the reformation and codification of sharīʿa law into the modern legal system, which was, more or less, a sine qua non for the Persian Constitutional Revolution. In this introductory study, I will also examine the interpretation of the political scientist Javad Tabatabaei, one of the most quoted contemporary Iranian historians of thought, and his meticulous insights into Yik Kalima as well as his analysis of the contribution of sharīʿa law in the making of the constitution and, subsequently, in implementing the rule of law in the aftermath of the Persian Constitutional Revolution. In this introductory article, I also will elaborate on the biography of Yik Kalima‘s author in relation to the modern Iranian historical context, his initiative towards the making of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, the opening of Sharīʿa law to modern law, the text in relation to other debates on legal systems in the Middle East, and finally add a closing remark on researching the interpretive act of this legal treatise.

 II-Historical Context

As Alexander Hamilton specifies in the Federalist I, “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force,” it is certain the former applies to the American constitution if not the latter. The evidence of such awakening and “reflection” could be found in other Federalist papers as well, such as in Federalist VI, where the Publius rhetorically asks, “Is it not time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt as a practical maxim for the direction of our political conduct that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue?” It is not certain, however, that such binary reservation could be borrowed and employed to examine other constitutional phenomena, such as the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, under a comparative capacity. Not that the Persian Constitutional Revolution is an exceptional or an extraordinary case, it is just that the underlying nature of this revolution, if considered within its special predominantly sharīʿa law context, might not precisely follow Hamilton’s model of making of a constitution out of “reflection” or “accident” if it does not by coincidence follow both alternatives intermixedly. Whatever the case might be, establishing the modern rule of law for Iranians, whose nation was emerging from the “accidental and forceful” exposure of ubiquitous sharīʿa law, might have given voice to a growing concern among some of its intellectuals in the Qajar era (1785-1925). The “accidental and forceful” presence of sharīʿa law in Iran from the seventh century onwards, and the unending use (or abuse) of such dictums within Persian rulers’ territory, forced the Iranians to find a path out of their chaotic situation in relation to the remarkable changes they were observing in modern Europe. Like the political climate of seventeenth-century Europe, the persistent presence of tradition in Iran had kept all societal, political, and legal systems in a static mode with no viable path to moving forward. Objections to such societal stagnation emerged in Iran in line with the new wave of modernism, perhaps as the result of accidental exposure of Iranians to European culture and societies. Intellectual discussion in Iran reflected a new wave of thought in the commentaries of travelers’ books, memoirs, and other mediums for a better understanding of complex phenomena such as the new “rule-governed” political systems in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and their applicability to other countries such as Iran. Numerous efforts to reform and emulate a modern legal system in Iran with relatively constitutional apparatuses eventually resulted in the renowned Persian Constitutional Revolution at the dawn of twentieth century.

It was not, however, easy for Iranian intellectuals of the era to unanimously institutionalize “their idea” of constitution for invoking the rule of law they surmised. Indeed, their correspondence and published materials insinuate the fact that they hardly had a monolithic or homogeneous, or even structural, understanding of the modern legal system and its relevance to other apparatuses. The structure of Iranian government at the time under the hierarchy of the king and the absence of any modern legal checks and balances induced a considerable obstacle for the small group of Iranian intellectuals who were advocating some fundamental change in reinstituting a less monarchical power. In defining and readjusting such modern European changes within the Iranian context and their relevance to its political-legal climate, however, they were either solely advocating a system with underlying sharīʿa law, or outmaneuvering the sharīʿa law and focusing merely on a modern alternative with no room or tolerance for any religious precepts (not even for existing sharīʿa law at the time). An infinitesimal third group, in hopes of achieving a golden mean, took an entirely different approach to these two extremes. Yet, almost all groups, as Javad Tabatabaei has argued, predominantly “politicized”[2] the reforming process of the legal system in Iran and advocated in complete oblivion of any preformed competing theories such as a “legal or economic idea”[3] and, consequently, likely failed to recognize or delineate the future lines of historical context for the revolutions they sought to emulate or forestall.

III-An Exemplary Initiative towards the Making of the Persian Constitutional Revolution

In the slightly different approach of a very small group of Iranian intellectuals to reforming the legal system in the second half of the nineteenth century, noted in the previous section, there were prominent figures such as Mirza Yusif  Khan Tabrizi (1823-1895). Mirza Yusif  Khan Tabrizi, (also referred to as Mustashār al-Dulah) was a leading intellectual who promoted the idea of modernity and, particularly, the modern legal system, by publishing many significant books and treatises, including his major legal treatise, Yik Kalima (One Word), which is the focus of this article. In this peculiarly drafted treatise, he argued that the law and the legal system had as much significance for Iran’s future as its Sharīʿa law did. From the introductory remarks, we learn that he was born in Tabriz, a major city in northwest Iran with great political significance, where he studied ethics, Arabic literature, and French. He worked in various political capacities, sometimes as a secretary in the British Consulate in Tabriz and, later, as a functionary in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4] In 1854, he was given an appointment by Nasser al-Din Shah, the sitting king of Iran, in the consulate in Haji Tar Khan––now Astrakhan in southern Russia. Eight years later, in 1862, he was delegated as Chargé d’affaires of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saint Petersburg and, a year after that, was appointed as Consul Général in Tbilisi, Georgia,[5] where he stayed until 1867 and where he was promoted to Chargé d’affaires of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Paris and worked under that title until 1869. Between 1871 and 1873, when Mirza Hossein Khan Moshir al-Dowle was appointed as the Iranian prime minister under the ruling Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, Mirza Yusif  Khan was promoted to legal counselor in the Department of Justice and eventually became deputy to the secretary of justice, Mirza Yahya Khan Moshir al-Dowle. As a deputy to the secretary of justice, he was conferred the administrative title of Mustashār al-Dulah – a title that literally means “state councillor.”[6]

Besides the legal treatise Yik Kalima, Mustashār al-Dulah had also published some books on very fundamental national issues such as Resaleh Rah Ahan (A Treatise on Railroads), Elm-ol-Tabaghat Ala’rz (Stratigraphy of the Earth), Ramze Jadid-e-Yusif i (The New Code of Yosefi), Resaleh Dar Vojobe Eslahe Khate Eslam (A Treatise on the Reform of Islam), and Az Pishamade Kare Zaman dar Dakhele Mamlekate Iran (The Status Quo of Iran).  His legal treatise Yik Kalimah turned out to be so significant in reforming the Iranian legal system and so threatening to the government of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, the sitting king of Iran at the time, that the king appointed his agents to beat Mustashār al-Dulah’s head for weeks with the very treatise he wrote. The severe result of such torture cost Mustashār al-Dulah his eyesight and ultimately his life. The government also removed his prestigious state title of Mustashār al-Dulah and confiscated the wealth and properties he inherited from his parents.

IV- The Openness of Sharīʿa Law Law to Modern Modern Law Law in Yik Kalima

The legal treatise Yik Kalima, as it will be construed from the introduction of the book and from the author’s correspondence with his peers in the second half of nineteenth century, comes from author’s direct and careful observations on the “after-effect” of the rule of law in Russia, France, and England. From one of those correspondences, we learn that the author had initially selected the title “Ruḥ al-Islam[7] for this treatise, which literally signifies “The Spirit of Islam.” Tabatabaei believes that the author, perhaps influenced Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois,[8] selected the title accordingly:

Unlike many of his contemporaries who barely grasped an idea of the depth of severe existing tradition in Iran, Mustashār al-Dulah perceived the immediate need of a peculiar underlying theory, which he called it Roha Al-Islam, and based on which codifying law would possibly be made. Indeed, codifying Sharīʿa law to the modern law is highly contingent upon complications of the modern Iran and on the basis of the “spirit of laws.[9]

Nevertheless, the author changed the title to “Yik Kalima” (One Word), to refer to the law, the single concept that the Iranian citizens could barely put themselves in peril even to articulate at the time. Mustashār al-Dulah’s second resource for such codification was an interpretive reflection on the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen (Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen), approved by the National Assembly of France on August 26, 1789. This document for him, as Tabatabaei explains, was among the first modern legal documents through which “the Iranian legal system will be codified provided that the compliance of its articles with the ‘spirit of Islam’ would be authenticated.”[10]

There are a number of different characteristics that make Mustashār al-Dulah’s approach to reforming the legal system very different from that of his Iranian contemporaries. Some of his contemporaries, such as Mirza Malkom Khan, did not recognize the depth of his work and instead accused him of translating the French Codes. Although he was the acting ambassador of Iran to France and was acquainted, more or less, with French intellectualism, and despite his urging on the importance of the issue of law for political change, he did not simply argue for the adoption of Western ideas or embedding Western rule of law in making the Iranian legal system look modern, and this would be regarded as his first significant characteristic. In other words, his proposal for modernizing the Iranian legal system did not include any attempts to decontextualize Western laws or to pattern after the Western legal system. Instead, as he repeats several times in the introduction to his book, he has every intention to reform the Iranian legal system by seeking help from Western legal codes and with simultaneous recognition and inclusion of the practical significance of the existing Iranian rules and regulations. Mustashār al-Dulah adheres to this approach because of the predominantly dichotomous political-legal perspective of his time. From the political point of view, the decisions of the Iranian king, who had obviously the highest authority, had much more weight above the law.[11] From a legal perspective, in that particular historical period of the nineteenth century, the canonical Islamic interpretations and regulations were regarded as axiomatic and the Islamic canonical rules and their interpretations, as well as the Fatwas, in most cases, were the primary prevalently used sources for decisions on hearings.[12] Finding any traces of “law” in its modern perception, as Tabatabaei explains[13], within the wide Islamic canonical context was increasingly unthinkable and defining such fundamentally modern phenomena as the antithesis to the Islamic canonical interpretations was unquestionably daunting.  The context is highly intertwined with sharī‘a dictates, with almost rare unconditional applicability to other subjects. Opening up any new dialogue or legal-religious debates within such a context could put the life of the initiator highly at risk, as it eventually happened to Mustashār al-Dulah. Therefore, with regard to the cultural background of the time in which he writes his legal treatise, it is hard to distill Mustashār al-Dulah’s intellectual approach in the pre-Constitutional Revolution era to simply a total imitated translation with the sole intention of introducing a set of French Codes.

Even though, in complete ignorance, some of his contemporaries interpreted Mustashār al-Dulah’s efforts as a mere translation of French codes, the very nature of the book, in translation for the first time, considered with the special case of French intellectual and legal ideas, based on many different theories in translation studies (Friedrich Schleiermacher 1815; Hans. G. Gadamer 1960; George Steiner 1975), could be regarded as a progressive initiation towards reforming a legal system. However, Mustashār al-Dulah avoids utilizing the direct translation of the legal codes for the simple reason that the legal translation could not make the codes compatible with the government in which the translator himself was serving at the time. As was already discussed, decontextualizing the French codes and importing them into a contrasting context, whether through translation, imitation, or interpretive simulation, would result in random discrepancies and disparities that could hardly be of use for any nation, particularly the Iran of the nineteenth century. Yet, discussing such decontextualized comparative thought vis-à-vis sharī‘a law will be considered as the second characteristic of his significant contribution to such reforms.

The third distinctiveness of Mustashār al-Dulah’s case is his comparative analysis of French codes with sharīa law, the very remarkable codeswitchings that we see in almost every page of his books from French codes to Qur’ānic verses and ḥadīth. This comparison could make his readers reflect upon the disadvantages of the traditionally structured system on the one hand (if we could call it a monolithic Islamic structure) contrasted with advantages of more modern legal systems on the other hand. His comparative approach to explain the rule of law is also meta-linguistically significant since it was, more or less, a slight step toward an act of reforming legislation via fostering an increased awareness, rather than a translation or interpretation of legal codes. This is because, through the comparative analysis of both legal systems, the reader could see the sharīa system’s malfunctions. These malfunctions stand up against some very central issues that are properly and explicitly addressed in modern legal systems, and although Mirza Yusif  Khan enormously praised the superb sharīa book and its tradition in his treatise, he believes that the nature of sharīa law, considerably, is different from the French laws in five aspects: first, unlike the book of sharīa, the codes (the compiled French books of laws) are written upon mutual consent of state and nation, and not autonomously.[14] Second, unlike the sharīa law, the French codes are a comprehensive collection of common law, free from inconsistent reasoning and illogicalities.[15] Third, the French codes are written in a simple language and easy to comprehend for everyone without any need for marginal gloss or complicated commentaries and interpretations that are required in the sharīa law. Fourth, unlike the primary and secondary sources that are used intermixedly in compiling sharīa law, religious and secular matters are not mixed together in the French codes. And finally, the issue of “costume and practice” is the fifth difference: while “costume and practice” is regarded as an inseparable part of the French codes, this issue remained unnoticed in the book of sharīa.[16] However, Mirza Yusif  Khan had obviously not intended to highlight such differences as obstacles in Yik Kalima. Yet, from the introductory remarks of the book, we could also conjecture that Yusif  Khan draws our attention to such differences by raising a question on absence of public law (droit public) in sharīa law and in the Iranian legal system as a necessary condition for the success of the rule of law and subsequent political movements in Iran. It is safe to claim that the Islamic Mullahs in the pre-Constitutional Revolution era in Iran had barely any knowledge of “public law” or the differences that public law could make within the sharīa system for the public good, should it be accidently or deliberately included in the sharīa law.

To address such important issues, Mustashār al-Dulah utilizes a very interesting strategy in his comparative analysis of French codes contrasting sharīa law. As the first step, he uses the fundamental concepts and codes of the new legal perspectives. This part is written with a basic investigation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. There are two forms of general rights discussed in all seventeen articles of this declaration, namely human rights and the rights of the nation. In like manner, Mustashār al-Dulah not only includes all seventeen articles of the declaration within the nineteen articles of his legal treatise, he also makes a parallel comparative analysis of exercising such rules under the new legal system in which he intends to introduce the human rights and the rights of the nation of Iran within the context of modern law. However, Mustashār al-Dulah might have not conceived the central role of this document or the doctrine of “natural rights” in different parts of his treatise. Tabatabaei refers to his “indifference – and if not, his ignorance – to some fundamental issues” in the introductory remarks of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, such as the abstract concept of the Supreme Being (l’Etre suprême), which puts the concrete concept of human being against Maximilien Robespierre’s abstract concept of Culte de l’Être suprême.[17] A detailed elaboration on such indifference to or misunderstanding of the central abstract concepts of modern law will be explained in the next article.

Mustashār al-Dulah’s second strategic step is his inclusion of Islamic interpretations in his legal treaties. Not only does Mustashār al-Dulah disallow making any underestimation of outmaneuvering sharīa law in his book, he also considers such inclusion as a salient characteristic of his legal treaties. In doing so, he brings imperative codes from sharīa rules and Islamic canonical interpretations, probably to examine his depiction of the rule of law through his treatise Yik Kalima, despite the legal malfunctions he had already highlighted in the traditional Iranian legal system. Such inclusion, in a way, might have root in Mustashār al-Dulah’s safe mode of indirect and implicit criticisms and objection to the status quo of the Islamic canonical interpretations and their highly religious and centralized concentration on the fate of human being in the Hereafter. However, it seems as if this was the only possibility for him to introduce some modern legal concepts to his nation while escaping any accusation of propagating Westernization.

V- A Similar Case in the Ottoman Empire

Although Yik Kalima is a unique legal treatise in the history of Iran, this was not the only comparative analysis of a legal system in the history of the modern Middle East. Besides Yik Kalima, some of the dimensions of which are still unknown, the official codification and consolidation of Ottoman law, known as the Mecelle or Mecelle-ʾi Aḥkām-ı ʿAdlīye (Majallah el-Ahkam-i-Adliya, in Arabic,مجلة الأحكام العدلية ,)  might be, to some extent, a similar comparative analysis case of legal treaties to reform their legal system. This treatise was also advocated with the purpose of reforming the legal system in the Ottoman Empire of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.[18] The president of the commission for Mecelle at the time was Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, who was also a legal scholar and a statesman. As Omer Turan explains, Ahmet Cevdet Pasha describes the necessity for such reform as follows:

More and more Europeans were coming to the Ottoman land. Especially during the Crimean War these relations increased. It soon became obvious that the one court in Istanbul was insufficient to meet the increased demand for legal settlement in the commercial field. Foreigners did not want to attend the Islamic law courts, since the witnessing of non-Muslims against Muslim, and foreign non-Muslims against native Ottoman non-Muslims were not accepted by the Islamic court. The French were requesting an explanation about the Ottoman law in order to inform their own citizens.[19]

The other members of the commission for writing Mecelle were Seid Halil Seif-od-Din, Seid Ahmed Hulusi, Seid Alkhaled Hilnli, Mehnled Enlin, and lbni-Abidin Alaed-Din. The initial results of this commission were published in 1851, and “the [reformed] regulations were published gradually from 1869 to 1876.”  Putting the situation of the Ottoman Empire and Iran of the late nineteenth century in a comparative framework, we might surmise that Mustashār al-Dulah notices the shortages of the Islamic canonical interpretation in dealing with social issues in a like manner that Ahmet Cevdet Pasha did, and conceivably in different ways. Obviously, no assumption should be made of any likely connections between Ottoman and Iranian political leaders at the time of writing Mecelle or Yik Kalima, as we have, indeed, little evidence to prove such claims whatsoever. However, in the first part of his book, Mirza Yusif  Khan says, “writing a book on this topic through mutual consultations is not unprecedented in Islam.”[20] Nader Sohrabi believes that “By this [assertion] he must have meant the partial codification of (primarily Hanafi school) Islamic law that had been carried out in the Ottoman Empire in 1869 under the Madjalla (mecelle) code, of which Mirza Yusif  Khan must have been aware.”[21] It seems that Sohrabi might have speculated such connection based on the reference he gives to Mirza Yusif Khan’s introduction to his book. However, looking closely within the context of the book and the background on the history of Islam on which Mirza Yusif Khan is inviting the readers to contemplate, the reference of such precedent might be the “mutual consensus or agreement of the Muslims or Ijma.” The context would give the chance to readers to realize that by using the word “Islam,” Mirza Yusif Khan meant the “history of Islam,” which has little to do with contemporary Islamic events in Turkey and Iran, or any likely relations between the political leaders of the two nations to initiate a constitutional movement in a similar form. Additionally, as is emphasized throughout this paper, drawing any relationship between sharīa law vs modern legal concepts would create confusion about the nature of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, and might not be regarded as anything helpful to bring about fundamental political-legal changes. The benefit of such assertion might not be more than speculation, which helps to elaborate on some differences, as Mirza Yusif Khan did in the introduction of his book.

Given the nature of their legal reformations that might flow in different directions, these two statesmen seem to be seeking similar social alliances with their fellow citizens in Iran and in Turkey. Yet, highlighting the differences is worth pointing out. For instance, as is explained in section IV, Mustashār al-Dulah strongly advocated the need for a vigorous legal foundation in fostering the public law (droit public) within the Iranian legal system. Unlike Mecelle of Ottoman Empire, Mustashār al-Dulah reiterated this issue emphatically in his legal treatise, and public law was among one of his major concerns and very pivotal for his project success.

Furthermore, unlike the case of Mecelle, in which the Islamic canonical interpretations and sharīa rules would come to very promising use, they could hardly be an auspicious foundation for a modern legal system and they lacked enough inspiration for the future of a nation Mustashār al-Dulah was hoping to write for. Additionally, as is reiterated in this paper time and again, one should not overlook the life-threatening danger of opening up any dialogues on the rule of law opposing the uselessness of working sharīa to define “law” and to initiate speaking in a dissident voice within the Iranian Islamic context. However, the Islamic canonical interpretations are so extravagantly employed in that era that even the king of Iran had benefited from those interpretations and, with the Mullahs who were in charge of them, made a sanctuary escape for his tyrannical ruling power. This is truly why Mustashār al-Dulah had to openly praise “the book of sharīa” (and its Islamic tradition) and reintroduce it not only as the most authentic primary source of his project to which he constantly refers, but also as a quite popular book among Muslims, with long-established guidance, directions, and instructions for whoever wishes to lay the foundation for a genuinely successful legal system.

VI- Closing Remarks on Translation

A decade after Mustashār al-Dulah passed on, and right after the Persian Constitutional Revolution, Iranians became even more involved in perceiving the depth of modern legal systems, probably influenced by the important legacy that Mustashār al-Dulah and his contemporaries such as Akhund Zadeh and Mirza Malkom Khan, to name a few, left behind. It was in this period that Iranian audiences started to receive translated books on the French Revolution with commentaries, along with books on comparative revolutions, such as the translation of the Belgian Revolution of 1831. Such legacy, unremittingly, kept this continuum going even within the context of the next regime, namely Pahlavi I and II (1925-1979). The translation of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Law into Persian is an exemplary translation of this period and the endorsement of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the king of Iran at the time, who, from knowledge or by accident, took that book to the parliament and officially made it mandatory for all members of parliament to read. This shows the durability of that continuum.

Translating Yik Kalima with commentaries and interpretations would be considered a contribution to perceiving the Persian Constitutional Revolution continuum and developing a spatial awareness in orienting readers toward the complexity of changing sharīa law to the modern legal system in the history of modern Iran. Since the book of Yik Kalima comprises a spectrum of complicated discourses including the French Revolution, the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, and the canonical Islamic interpretations, therefore, the translation of this treatise would not be a purely linguistic analysis within a traditional framework of one-to-one equivalence-finding, as has been prescribed by many scholars in translation studies. It is rather a call for a translation based on the book’s historical background and the political context within which the book emerged, in Henri Meschonnic’s word, as a “language-poem-ethics-politics continuum.”[22] It is just within that discourse which the “forms of life” in Persian and English language could be expressed in translation in the same way that Meschonnic desires. A good example of using such strategy could be the translation of French concept of “justice” which means”عدالت in Persian. Mustashār al-Dulah is frequently using this concept in his legal treatise, but clarifying the meaning of this important concept in different paragraphs, if the concept is not considered within a Meschonnician “language-poem-ethics-politics” continuum, would undoubtedly be confounding. As we have already discussed, and Tabatabaei emphatically clarified in his book, the legal treatise Yik Kalima happens to put the modern Iran against its ancient world in a precarious crossroads. In this crossroads, Mustashār al-Dulah employed the concept “justice” with two different perspectives, but within the same “continuum.” In codifying the sharīa law, on the one hand, he is taking the Islamic canonical interpretations into serious consideration by sticking to Islamic Hadith such as “the justice is the basis of prosperity” (in Arabic “العدل اساس العمران“).[23] This dictum comes from the interpretations of Islamic philosophers such as Ibn Sina (or Avicenna, 980–1037 AD), whose interpretation has strong roots in the Aristotelian conception of justice.[24] On the other hand, Mustashār al-Dulah adheres to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen to define the codes, and there could be some different interpretations of justice in that declaration. Although some theoretical basis of the Aristotelian conception of justice could be relevant to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, like many other concepts such as “preparatory question” (question préparatoire), “justice” as a concept in the modern legal system and in the new humanities, similarly, took on a different meaning after the French Revolution. For Mustashār al-Dulah, “justice” means the “rule of law” and this example shows how practical the Meschonnic’s theory of continuum corps-langage to trace and retrieve a series of thought could be. As was discussed in the previous sections, it is the discontinuity and disruption of a vigorous school of thought that brought many complications in understanding the legal and philosophical concepts through translation into the Persian language. The reason, as Meschonnic comments, is that no one could consider the fact that “it is no longer a language system that must be translated but a system of discourse, not the discontinuum but the continuum.”[25]


[1] Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The venture of Islam: conscience and history in a world civilization 293-94 (2004).

[2] Javad Tabatabaei, 1 Ta’amoli Darbare-ye Iran, Nazaria Hukomat -e- Ghanun Dar Iran, Mabani Nazaria Mashruteh Khahi 201 (2nd ed. 2012).

[3] Id. at 201.

[4] Mirza Yusif  Khan Tabrizi , Risalah Mousom bi Yik Kalima 22 (1870).

[5] Id. at 23.

[6] Javad Tabatabaei, 1 Jedal-e- Ghadim va Jadid: Az nouzayesh ta Inqilab-e- Farance 1500-1789, 197 (2nd ed. 2014).

[7] The Encyclopedia Of Contemporary ISLAM, (last visited Sep 29, 2018).

[8] Javad Tabatabaei, supra note 2, at 199.

[9] Id. at 207.

[10] Id.

[11] According to Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh (2006), “Ancient Greek historian/geographers like Herodotus (484?–425 BC) and Xenophon (430?– 355 BC) confirm that the Achaemenids (559–330 BC) founded a federal kind of state, a vast commonwealth of autonomous nations. The founder of this federation, Cyrus (Kurosh) the Great (559– 529 BC), together with his successors, substantially expanded their new commonwealth, and divided it into many satrapies (thirty to forty at times), each governed by a local Satrap, a Khashthrapavan or a vassal king. This was a commonwealth of global proportions, which included lands of Trans-Oxania, Sind, and Trans-Caucasus as far as what are now Moldavia, Trans-Jordan and Syria, Macedonia and Cyprus, Egypt and Libya. This was a political system of universal aspirations; ruled by a Shâhanshâh (king of kings). Thus it could also be referred to as the ‘Shâhanshâhi’ system.” Mojtahed-Zadeh, Pirouz. “Erratum: ‘Boundary’ in ancient Persian tradition of statehood: an introduction to the origins of the concept of boundary in pre-modern history.” GeoJournal 66.4 (2006): 273-83. Web.

[12] A ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority, Fatwā – Oxford Reference, Dominant social paradigm – Oxford Reference (2017), (last visited Sept. 29, 2018).

[13] Javad Tabatabaei, supra note 6, at 197.

[14]  Mirza Yusif  Khan Tabrizi , Risalah Mousom bi Yik Kalima 7 (1870).

[15] Id. at 9.

[16] Javad Tabatabaei, supra note 6, at 224.

[17] Javad Tabatabaei, supra note 2, at 239.

[18] LLC Revolvy, “Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha” on Revolvy.comTrivia Quizzes, Emin Ali Paşa&item_type=topic (last visited Nov. 25, 2017).

[19] John W. Livingston, In the shadows of glories past: jihad for modern science in Muslim societies, 1850 to the Arab Spring 217 (2018).

[20] Id. at 14.

[21] Id. at 303.

[22] Henri Meschonnic, Ethics and politics of translating 27 (2011).

[23] A collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Qoran, English Dictionary, Thesaurus, & grammar help | Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Dictionaries | English, (Last visited Sept. 29, 2018).

[24] Ibn Sina takes issue with Aristotle’s conception of justice. This conception is mentioned in Aristotle’s book, Nicomachean Ethics, where the definition of justice falls under three maxims of “what kind of actions are their object-matter, and what kind of mean state Justice is, and between what points the abstract principle of it, i.e., the just, is a mean.” Robert C. Bartlett & Susan D. Collins, Action and contemplation: studies in the moral and political thought of Aristotle 75 (1999).

[25] Henri Meschonnic, Ethics and politics of translating 69 (2011).

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