Assembly of Experts for Constitution

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Assembly of Experts for Constitution
4th constituent assembly
Flag of Iran (1964).svg
Founded15 August 1979
Disbanded15 November 1979
Deputy Speaker
Political groups
Majority (55 to 58 seats)
Multi-seat districts: Plurality-at-large voting
Single-seat districts: First-past-the-post voting
First election
3 August 1979
Last election
Meeting place
Palais du Senat iranien (1970).jpg
Senate House, Tehran, Iran
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Assembly of Experts for Constitution (Persian : مجلس خبرگان قانون اساسی), also translated the Assembly for the Final Review of the Constitution (AFRC), [1] was a constituent assembly in Iran, elected in the summer of 1979 to write a new constitution for the Islamic Republic Government. It convened on August 18 to consider the draft constitution written earlier, completed its deliberations rewriting the constitution on November 15, [2] and saw the constitution it had written approved by referendum on December 2 [3] and 3, 1979, by over 98 percent of the vote. [4]

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

A constituent assembly or constitutional assembly is a body or assembly of popularly elected representatives composed for the purpose of drafting or adopting a constitutional-type document. The constituent assembly is a subset of a constitutional convention elected entirely by popular vote; that is, all constituent assemblies are constitutional conventions, but a constitutional convention is not necessarily a constituent assembly. As the fundamental document constituting a state, a constitution cannot normally be modified or amended by the state's normal legislative procedures; instead a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly, the rules for which are normally laid down in the constitution, must be set up. A constituent assembly is usually set up for its specific purpose, which it carries out in a relatively short time, after which the assembly is dissolved. A constituent assembly is a form of representative democracy.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital, largest city, and leading economic and cultural center.



Prior to its election a "Revolutionary council" had unveiled a draft constitution on June 18 which was written by Hasan Habibi. Aside from substituting a strong president, on the Gaullist model, for the monarchy, the constitution did not differ markedly from Iran's 1906 constitution and did not give the clerics an important role in the new state structure. Ayatollah Khomeini was prepared to submit this draft, virtually unmodified, to a national referendum or, barring that, to an appointed council of forty representatives who could advise on, but not revise, the document. Ironically, as it turned out, it was the leftist who most vehemently rejected this procedure and demanded that the constitution be submitted for full-scale review by a constituent assembly. Ayatollah Shariatmadari supported these demands. [4]

Ayatollah high-ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics

Ayatollah or ayatullah is a high-ranking Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah cleric. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, Quran reading, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hujjat al-Islam.

Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari Iranian Shia faqih

Sayyid Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, also spelled Shariat-Madari, was an Iranian Grand Ayatollah. He favoured the traditional Shiite practice of keeping clerics away from governmental positions and was a critic of Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, denouncing the taking hostage of diplomats at the US embassy in Tehran. In 1982 he was accused of being part of a plot to bomb Khomeini's home and to overthrow the Islamic state, and he remained under house arrest until his death in 1986. His followers also opposed Ruhollah Khomeini.


According to Shaul Bakhash, the seventy-three-member Assembly of Experts was made up of 55 clerics, 50 of whom were candidates of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP). About a dozen members were independents or represented other parties and voted against the controversial articles of the constitution. [5] According to Sepehr Zabir, pro-IRP faction were 50% while 10% were better-known clerics such as Mahmoud Taleghani who were closer secular groupings. 20% were non-clerics embracing theocracy and the remaining 20% were followers of Abolhassan Banisadr and Mehdi Bazargan. Organizations such as the National Front, People's Fedai Guerrillas and People's Mujahedin of Iran were totally absent. [6] A seat of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan remained vacant after his credential was rejected. [7]

Shaul Bakhash, is an Iranian-American historian in Iranian studies at George Mason University where he is a "Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History."

Mahmoud Taleghani Iranian Ayatollah

Mahmoud Taleghani was an Iranian theologian, Muslim reformer, democracy advocate and a senior Shi'a cleric of Iran. Taleghani was a contemporary of the Iranian Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and a leader in his own right of the movement against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. A founding member of the Freedom Movement of Iran, he has been described as a representative of the tendency of many "Shia clerics to blend Shia with Marxist ideals in order to compete with leftist movements for youthful supporters" during the 1960s and 1970s. His "greatest influence" has been said to have been in "his teaching of Quranic exegesis," as many later revolutionaries were his students.

Abolhassan Banisadr 1st President of Iran

Seyyed Abolhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician. He was the first President of Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution abolished the monarchy, serving from 4 February 1980 until he was impeached by parliament on 20 June 1981. Prior to his presidency, he was the minister of foreign affairs in the interim government. He has resided for many years in France where he co-founded the National Council of Resistance of Iran. At age 86, Banisadr is currently the oldest living former Iranian President.

The controversial articles in question were ones that revamped the draft constitution to include principles of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (velayat-e faqih) and establish the basis for a state dominated by the Shia clergy. [8] The article was passed with 53 votes in favor, while 8 cast votes against and 5 abstained. [1]

Members of the opposition bloc were reportedly the following:

Ezzatollah Sahabi Iranian activist

Ezzatollah Sahabi was an Iranian politician and journalist. He was a parliament member from 1980 to 1984.

Ali Golzadeh Ghafouri Iranian writer and faculty

Ali Golzadeh Ghafouri was an Iranian Shia cleric and religious progressive politician.

Ahmad Nourbakhsh

Seyyed Ahmad Nourbakhsh is an Iranian engineer and professor of turbomachinery at the University of Tehran. He was elected to the 73-seats Assembly of Experts for Constitution in 1979.

Representatives of ethnoreligious minorities are also likely to have voted with the opposition. [9] They were:


The assembly's work was part of a highly contentious time during the Iranian Revolution that saw the breakup of the original alliance of secular, radical, religious, and theocratic groups that all united to overthrow the Shah. [11] [12] [13] It was to the Assembly that Khomeini proclaimed "the velayat-e faqih is not something created by the Assembly of Experts. It is something that God has ordained," [14] which clashed with comments such as, "our intention is not that religious leaders should themselves administer the state," [15] made before the victory of the revolution.

The Assembly of Experts for Constitution is not to be confused with the later Assembly of Experts of the Leadership, which is a body created by the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran to elect and supervise Iran's Supreme Leader.

References & notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Sussan Siavoshi (2017), Montazeri, Cambridge University Press, pp. 107–109, ISBN   9781107146310
  2. Bakhash, Reign of the Ayatollah's (1984) p.83
  3. Assembly of Experts
  4. 1 2 History of Iran: Iran after the victory of 1979's Revolution
  5. Bakhash, Reign of the Ayatollah's (1984) p.81
  6. Zabir, Sepehr (2012). Iran Since the Revolution (RLE Iran D). Taylor & Francis. pp. 34–35. ISBN   1136833005.
  7. "The 1979 Assembly of Experts for the Drafting of the Constitution Election", The Iran Social Science Data Portal, Princeton University, archived from the original on 2015-09-24, retrieved 10 August 2015
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Yvette Hovsepian-Bearce (2016), The Political Ideology of Ayatollah Khamenei, Routledge, p. 23, ISBN   978-1-315-74835-1
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Saffari, Said (1993), "The Legitimation of the Clergy's Right to Rule in the Iranian Constitution of 1979" (PDF), British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Taylor & Francis, 20 (1): 64–82
  10. 1 2 3 4 Sanasarian, Eliz (2000), "Religious Minorities in Iran", British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge Middle East Studies, Cambridge University Press, 13: 64–82, ISBN   113942985X
  11. Schirazi, Constitution of Iran (1997) p.31-32
  12. Keddie, Modern Iran (2003) p.247
  13. Schirazi, Constitution of Iran (1997) p.24-48
  14. International Herald Tribune, 24, October 1979
  15. from Le Monde newspaper October 25, 1978, "in one of his last interviews before leaving Paris," p.14 of The Last Revolution by Robin Wright, c2000) (source: Benard and Khalilzad, The Government of God)

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