Islamic republic

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Politics and government

An Islamic republic in its modern context has come to mean several different things, some contradictory to others. Theoretically, to many religious leaders, it is a state under a particular theocratic form of government advocated by some Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East and Africa. In their conception of the Islamic republic, the laws of the state are required to be compatible with the laws of Sharia, Islamic law, while the state remains a republic (that is, not a monarchy as many Middle Eastern states are presently). In other cases, it is merely a symbol of cultural identity. In fact many argue that an Islamic Republic strikes a middle path between a completely secular and a theocratic (and/or Orthodox Islamic) system of government.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran (established in 1979), the Assembly of Experts (who can appoint or dethrone the Leader), the president and members of the legislature are elected by direct vote of the citizens as per Constitution. Candidates approved by the Guardian Council are allowed to run for election.

Iran's Islamic republic is in contrast to the constitutionally democratic (though currently authoritarian after Pervez Musharraf's coup d'état) and partially secular state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (proclaimed as an Islamic Republic in 1956) where Islamic laws are technically considered to override laws of the state, though in reality they rarely do. Mauritania became an Islamic republic on 28 November 1958.

Pakistan was the first country to adopt Islamic prefix to define its republican status under the otherwise secular constitution of 1956. Interestingly enough, despite this definition, the country did not have state religion till 1973, when a new constitution, more democratic but less secular, was adopted. Iran is one of the first contemporary nations to formally attempt to follow this form of the government after a revolution.

Today, the creation of an Islamic State is the rallying cry for many Muslims, including those described as Islamists, all over the world. However the term itself has different meanings among various people. Many advocate the abolition of the monarchies of the Middle East, regimes which they believe to be overly authoritarian or otherwise repressive to Islam, in some cases, to be replaced with a unified and monolithic Caliphate and in other cases Islamic Republics along national lines. There are many Muslims to whom the idea of a republic, Islamic or secular, itself is an antithesis of the Islamic form of governance.

The nations of Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, and Pakistan all have "Islamic republic" in their full name, though they differ greatly in individual governments and laws. Pakistan for example, only uses the "Islamic" name on its passports and visas. All government documents are prepared under the name of the Federation of Pakistan, and some constitutional scholars believe that this should be the proper name. However, Islamic republic is specifically mentioned in the Constitution of 1973.

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