Dr. iur. Bahman Khodadadi (Universität Münster): The Theocratic Agency of the Iranian Legal System at the Legislative and Judicial Levels

Afternoon Talk on Islamic Law

  • Datum: 19.01.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 16:00
  • Ort: Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht
About the speaker:
Bahman Khodadadi pursued his Bachelor of Law and Master of Criminal Law at the universities of Ferdowsi and Allame Tabataba’i in Iran. He was a visiting fellow at the University of Münster, Germany (as a member of the Cluster of Excellence for Religion and Politics) where he ultimately pursued his doctoral thesis. In 2021, he received the “Harry Westermann Award” from the University of Münster for the best doctoral dissertation of the year. His research focus lies on criminal law theory, sociology of law and religion, Islamic jurisprudence, criminology, and legal history. Currently, he is working as a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Thomas Gutmann at the University of Münster.

About the topic:
The Iranian theocracy is an exceptional form of Islamic polity in terms of the special role that Sharia plays within the theocratic legal system. The project of Shariatization triggered in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 has shaped the Iranian legal system into the world’s most prominent theocracy, where revolutionary norms are married with Shiite jurisprudence. The legal analysis of the uneasy intersection between Sharia and the legal system, as entrenched within the Iranian constitutional framework, indicates that not only has the Islamicity of all laws firmly been guaranteed, any revision of theocratic elements of the constitution has also been obstructed. The result is the formation of a theocratically frozen constitution that secures Islamicity at the legislative level and safeguards the Islamicity of the legal system at the judicial level. In empowering judges to deliver sentences based on unwritten law (authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwa), the constitution preserves the traditional role of Muslim judges and therefore deactivates the mechanism of codification, which is considered a trademark of modern Western legal codes. This has given rise to a systematic overlap between the scope of sin and crime and made the application of the last resort principle (ultima ratio) particularly complicated, if not impossible.
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