Volume 26, Issue 1 (2019)                   IQBQ 2019, 26(1): 73-94 | Back to browse issues page

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Afary J. Performance of Justice in Qajar Society. IQBQ. 2019; 26 (1) :73-94
URL: http://eijh.modares.ac.ir/article-27-44361-en.html
Mellichamp Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara , Afary@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (201 Views)
This article examines the performance of justice in Qajar Iranian society (1789-1906) and the ways in which social hierarchies operated in the determination of justice.  As in ancient or medieval European society, people were not considered equal before the law. Men were treated differently from women, while non-Muslims were subject to substantially different expectations and punishments. Sunnis and those belonging to other Shi’i schools of Islam such as the Isma‘ilis and Zaidis had fewer rights than Twelver Shi’is in legal disputes and were subject to more restrictions. But even men belonging to Twelver Shi’ism, the largest branch of Shi’ism and a majority of Iranian, were not equal before the law. In addition, partly because of the duality between ‘urfi customary law and sharia religious law, and party because of clerical power, laws were neither unanimous nor centralized, which meant justice was often arbitrary. Qajar justice commonly practiced corporeal punishment and executions, usually performed in public, and these served as a means of both chastising the people and entertaining them. Finally, the institution of slavery remained in force. Slaves, as moveable properties, occupied a position between humans and commodities and were subject to very different sets of regulations and punishments.  One consequence of this patch quilt of laws was that European powers, starting in the Safavid era, demanded the right to adjudicate legal disputes between their citizens who resided in Iran and the local populace. These agreements, which were known as capitulation treaties, offered protection to persecuted minorities of Iran and runaway slaves. But they also allowed foreign powers to become involved in Iran’s domestic affairs and to monitor maritime trade in the Persian Gulf. All of these social hierarchies would be questioned in the course of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution and new laws would be promulgated in the hopes of creating a modern state with equal rights for citizens.
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Article Type: Original Research | Subject: Arts and Humanities (General)
Received: 2020/07/11 | Accepted: 2019/08/15 | Published: 2019/08/15

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