National / Regional Profiles
Religion and State (RAS) Indexes1
Religion Indexes (Iran)
State Funding of Religion
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)
State Regulation of Majority or All Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)
State Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)
Iran: Major World Religions (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2
The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Baha'is, Buddhists, Chinese folk-religionists, Christians, Ethnic religionists, Hindus, Jews, New religionists, Nonreligious, Sikhs, Zoroastrians.
Iran: Largest Religious Groups (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2
The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Agnostics, Atheists, Catholics, Independents, Islamic schismatics, Mahayanists, Orthodox, Protestants, Saktists, Shaivites, unaffiliated Christians, Vaishnavites.
Religious Adherents (World Religion Database 2020)2
Religious demographics (Iran)3
The country has an area of 631,000 square miles and a population of 71.6 million. The population is 98 percent Muslim; 89 percent is Shi'a and 9 percent Sunni (mostly Turkmen and Arabs, Baluchs, and Kurds living in the southwest, southeast, and northwest respectively). Non-Muslims account for 2 percent of the population. There are no official statistics available on the size of the Sufi Muslim population; however, some reports estimate between two million and five million persons practice Sufism.
Recent unofficial estimates from religious organizations claim that Baha'is, Jews, Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, and Zoroastrians constitute two percent of the total population. The largest non-Muslim minority is the Baha'i religious group, which numbers 300,000 to 350,000. Unofficial estimates of the Jewish community's size vary from 25,000 to 30,000.
According to U.N. figures, 300,000 Christians live in the country, the majority of whom are ethnic Armenians. Unofficial estimates for the Assyrian Christian population are between 10,000 and 20,000. There are also Protestant denominations, including evangelical religious groups. Christian groups outside the country estimate the size of the Protestant Christian community to be less than 10,000, although many Protestant Christians reportedly practice in secret. Sabean-Mandaeans number 5,000 to 10,000. The Government regards Sabean-Mandaeans as Christians, and they are included among the three recognized religious minorities; however, Sabean-Mandaeans do not consider themselves Christians. The Government estimates there are 30,000 to 35,000 Zoroastrians, a primarily ethnic Persian minority; however, Zoroastrian groups claim to have 60,000 adherents. There are indications that members of all religious minorities are emigrating at a high rate, although it is unclear if the reasons for emigration are religious or related to overall poor economic conditions.
|Area in square miles||636,372||196,939,900|
|Life Expectancy from birth, in years5||75.7||71.9|
|Gross National Income per capita, in current international dollars5||--||16,101.0|
|Description of Polity Score6||(autocratic)||--|
|Judicial Independence Composite Score, as average of scores for higher and lower courts7||-0.8||0.8|
|Official Religion(s)8||Shia Islam||--|
Iran - Google Map
Religion and the State
Religion and State Collection (2014)
|Is proselytizing Legal?1||No|
|Is religious registration someties denied?1||Registration is required but sometimes denied|
|What are the consequences of registration?1||Groups are officially required to register, and the government enforces this and discriminates against unregistered groups.|
|Official Support: The formal relationship between religion and state.1||Religious State 2|
|The extent to which religious education is mandatory in public schools.1||Mandatory for all; the course must be in religion.|
|The extent to which funding is exclusive to one or a few religions.1||Government funding of religion goes to only one religion, no other religions receive funds.|
|The extent to which there are religious requirements and oaths for holding office.1||All government officials must meet some form of religious requirement to hold office.|
Constitutional Features [ View Excerpts]
Features of Constitution
|Is there a constitution?9||Yes|
|Does the constitution state an official religion?10||yes [ Articles 1, 2 ]|
|Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?10||partial [ Articles 12, 13 ]|
|Does the constitution protect religious equality/non-discrimination?10||no|
Public Opinion (Iran)(Calculated by the ARDA from the World Values Survey)11
|Percent belonging to a religious denomination.||98.9||---|
|Percent identifying as a religious person.||94.9||83.7|
|Percent attending religious services at least once a month.||46.5||45.4|
|Percent praying to God more than once per week.||60.3||---|
|Percent that meditate or pray.||---||94.8|
|Percent attending religious services at least once a month when 12 years old.||---||20.1|
|Percent believing in God.||99.4||---|
|Percent believing in heaven.||98.4||---|
|Percent believing in hell.||98.2||---|
|Percent believing in life after death.||97.6||---|
|Percent believing that there are clear guidelines on good and evil.||---||75.1|
|Percent believing that politicians who do not believe in God are unfit for public office.||---||60.4|
|Percent believing that religious leaders should not influence people's vote.||---||67.8|
|Percent believing that things would be better if there are more people with strong religious beliefs.||---||71.4|
|Percent that think that religious faith is an important quality in children||74.6||65.5|
|Percent that agree: We depend too much on science and not enough on faith||73.4||65.1|
|Percent believing church gives answers to people's spiritual needs.||79.1||64.3|
|Percent that do not trust people of other religions||---||48.8|
|Percent believing church gives answers on family life problems.||61.9||49.7|
|Percent believing churches give answers to moral problems.||---||44.5|
|Percent that often think about meaning and purpose of life||98.6||---|
|Percent finding comfort and strength from religion.||96.3||---|
|Percent considering religion important.||95.5||94.6|
|Percent considering that God is not at all important in their life.||1.3||1.4|
|Percent confident in religious organizations.||86.4||75|
|Percent agreeing that nurses can refuse to assist with an abortion on moral grounds.||60.6||---|
|Adult Literacy Rate, in percentage of adult population13||86.8||86.2|
|Net Primary School Enrollment Rate, in percentage of population of official school age5||99.2||89.6|
|Net Secondary School Enrollment Rate, in percentage of population of official school age5||72.7||65.1|
|Gross Domestic Product, in billions of current U.S. Dollars5||419.0||75,845.1|
|Imports, in million current-year U.S. dollars14||29,612.0||20,150,355.0|
|Exports, in million current-year U.S. dollars14||--||20,790,015.7|
|Economic Freedom Index, scaled from 0 min to 100 max15||50.5||62.9|
|Human Development Index16||0.8||0.7|
|2013 Gender Inequality Index (GII)17||0.5||0.4|
|Gross National Income per capita, in current international dollars5||--||16,101.0|
Demographic and Health Measures
|Life Expectancy from birth, in years5||75.7||71.9|
|2012 Net Migration Rate (migrants per 1,000 population)5||-300.0||--|
|Urban Percentage of Total Population14||73.9||54.3|
|Urban Population Growth, by percentage14||1.8||2.0|
|Fertility Rate, in total births per woman14||1.7||2.5|
|Infant Mortality Rate, in deaths per 1000 live births14||13.0||30.5|
|HIV Prevalence, in percentage of population ages 15-49 with HIV14||0.1||0.8|
Other Measures on Religion, State, and Society
Constitution Clauses Related to Religion
Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion) (Iran)10
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
We sent aforetime Our apostles with clear signs, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that men may uphold justice... (57:25)
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran sets forth the cultural, social, political, and economic institutions of Iranian society on the basis of Islamic principles and norms, which represent the earnest aspiration of the Islamic Ummah. This basic aspiration was made explicit by the very nature of the great Islamic Revolution of Iran, as well as the course of the Muslim people's struggle, from its beginning until victory, as reflected in the decisive and forceful slogans raised by all segments of the populations. Now, at the threshold of this great victory, our nation, with all its being, seeks its fulfilment.
The basic characteristic of this revolution, which distinguishes it from other movements that have taken place in Iran during the past hundred years, is its ideological and Islamic nature. After experiencing the anti-despotic constitutional movement and the anticolonialist movement centred on the nationalization of the oil industry, the Muslim people of Iran learned from this costly experience that the obvious and fundamental reason for the failure of those movements was their lack of an ideological basis. Although the Islamic line of thought and the direction provided by militant religious leaders played an essential role in the recent movements, nonetheless, the struggles waged in the course of those movements quickly fell into stagnation due to departure from genuine Islamic positions. Thus it was that the awakened conscience of the nation, under the leadership of the eminent marji’ al-taqlid, Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Imam Khumaynî, came to perceive the necessity of pursuing an authentically Islamic and ideological line in its struggles. And this time, the militant 'ulama' of the country, who had always been in the forefront of popular movements, together with the committed writers and intellectuals, found new impetus by following his leadership. (The beginning of the most recent movement of the Iranian people is to be put at 1382 of the lunar Islamic calendar, corresponding to 1341 of the solar Islamic calendar [1962 of the Christian calendar]).
The Dawn of the Movement
The devastating protest of Imam Khumaynî against the American conspiracy known as the "White Revolution", which was a step intended to stabilize the foundations of despotic rule and to reinforce the political, cultural, and economic dependence of Iran on world imperialism, brought into being a united movement of the people and, immediately afterwards, a momentous revolution of the Muslim nation in the month of Khurdad, 1342 [June 1963]. Although this revolution was drowned in blood, in reality it heralded the beginning of the blossoming of a glorious and massive uprising, which confirmed the central role of Imam Khumaynî as an Islamic leader. Despite his exile from Iran after his protest against the humiliating law of capitulation (which provided legal immunity for American advisers), the firm bond between the Imam and the people endured, and the Muslim nation, particularly committed intellectuals and militant ‘ulama’, continued their struggle in the face of banishment and imprisonment, torture and execution.
Throughout this time, the conscious and responsible segment of society was bringing enlightenment to the people from the strongholds of the mosques, centres of religious teaching, and universities. Drawing inspiration from the revolutionary and fertile teachings of Islam, they began the unrelenting yet fruitful struggle of raising the level of ideological awareness and revolutionary consciousness of the Muslim people. The despotic regime which had begun the suppression of the Islamic movement with barbaric attacks on the Faydiyyah Madrasah, Tehran University, and all other active centres of revolution, in an effort to evade the revolutionary anger of the people, resorted to the most savage and brutal measures. And in these circumstances, execution by firing squads, endurance of medieval tortures, and long terms of imprisonment were the price our Muslim nation had to pay to prove its firm resolve to continue the struggle. The Islamic Revolution of Iran was nurtured by the blood of hundreds of young men and women, infused with faith, who raised their cries of "Allahu Akbar" at daybreak in execution yards, or were gunned down by the enemy in streets and marketplaces. Meanwhile, the continuing declarations and messages of the Imam that were issued on various occasions, extended and deepened the consciousness and determination of the Muslim nation to the utmost.
The plan of the Islamic government based upon wilayat al-faqih, as proposed by Imam Khumaynî at the height of the period of repression and strangulation practiced by the despotic regime, produced a new specific, and streamlined motive for the Muslim people, opening up before them the true path of Islamic ideological struggle, and giving greater intensity to the struggle of militant and committed Muslims both within the country and abroad.
The movement continued on this course until finally popular dissatisfaction and intense rage of the public caused by the constantly increasing repression at home, and the projection of the struggle at the international level after exposure of the regime by the 'ulama' and militant students, shook the foundations of the regime violently. The regime and its sponsors were compelled to decrease the intensity of repression and to "liberalize" the political atmosphere of the country. This, they imagined, will serve as a safety valve, which would prevent their eventual downfall. But the people, aroused, conscious, and resolute under the decisive and unfaltering leadership of the Imam, embarked on a triumphant, unified, comprehensive, and countrywide uprising.
The Wrath of the People
The publication of an outrageous article meant to malign the revered ‘ulama’ and in particular Imam Khumaynî on 15 Day, 1356 [January 7, 1978] by the ruling regime accelerated the revolutionary movement and caused an outburst of popular outrage across the country. The regime attempted to quell the volcano of the people's anger by drowning the protest and uprising in blood, but the bloodshed only quickened the pulse rate of the Revolution. The seventh-day and fortieth-day commemorations of the martyrs of the Revolution, like a series of steady heartbeats, gave greater vitality, intensity, vigour, and solidarity to this movement all over the country. In the course of this popular movement, the employees of all government establishments took an active part in the effort to overthrow the tyrannical regime by calling a general strike and participating in street demonstrations. The widespread solidarity of men and women of all segments of society and of all political and religious factions, played a clearly determining role in the struggle. Especially the women were actively and massively present in a most conspicuous manner at all stages of this great struggle. The common sight of mothers with infants in their arms rushing towards the scene of battle and in front of the barrels of machine-guns indicated the essential and decisive role played by this major segment of society in the struggle.
The Price the Nation Paid
After slightly more than a year of continuous and unrelenting struggle, the sapling of the Revolution, watered by the blood of more than 60,000 martyrs and 100,000 wounded and disabled, not to mention billions of tumans’ worth of property damage, came to bear fruit amidst the cries of "Independence! Freedom! Islamic government!" This great movement, which attained victory through reliance upon faith, unity, and the decisiveness of its leadership at every critical and sensitive juncture, as well as the self-sacrificing spirit of the people, succeeded in upsetting all the calculations of imperialism and destroying all its connections and institutions, thereby opening a new chapter in the history of all embracing popular revolutions of the world.
Bahman 21 and 22, 1357 [February 12 and 13, 1979] witnessed the collapse of the monarchical regime; domestic tyranny and foreign domination, both of which were based upon it, were shattered. This great success proved to be the vanguard of Islamic government---a long-cherished desire of the Muslim people---and brought with it the glad tidings of final victory.
Unanimously, and with the participation of the maraji’ al-taqlid, the ‘ulama’ of Islam, and the leadership, the Iranian people declared their final and firm decision, in the referendum on the Islamic Republic, to bring about a new political system, that of the Islamic Republic. A 98.2% majority of the people voted for this system. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, setting forth as it does the political, social, cultural, and economic institutions and their relations that are to exist in society, must now provide for the consolidation of the foundations of Islamic government, and propose the plan of a new system of government to be erected on the ruins of the previous taghuti order.
The Form of Government in Islam
In the view of Islam, government does not derive from the interests of a class, nor does it serve the domination of an individual or a group. It represents rather the crystallization of the political ideal of a people who bear a common faith and common outlook, taking an organized form in order to initiate the process of intellectual and ideological evolution towards the final goal, i.e., movement towards Allah. Our nation, in the course of its revolutionary developments, has cleansed itself of the dust and impurities that accumulated during the taghuti past and purged itself of foreign ideological influences, returning to authentic intellectual standpoints and world-view of Islam. It now intends to establish an ideal and model society on the basis of Islamic norms. The mission of the Constitution is to realize the ideological objectives of the movement and to create conditions conducive to the development of man in accordance with the noble and universal values of Islam.
With due attention to the Islamic content of the Iranian Revolution, which has been a movement aimed at the triumph of all the mustad‘afun over the mustakbirun, the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad. In particular, in the development of international relations, the Constitution will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community (in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "This your community is a single community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me" [21:92]), and to assure the continuation of the struggle for the liberation of all deprived and oppressed peoples in the world.
With due attention to the essential character of this great movement, the Constitution guarantees the rejection of all forms of intellectual and social tyranny and economic monopoly, and aims at entrusting the destinies of the people to the people themselves in order to break completely with the system of oppression. (This is in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "He removes from them their burdens and the fetters that were upon them" [7:157]).
In creating, on the basis of ideological outlook, the political infrastructures and institutions that are the foundation of society, the righteous will assume the responsibility of governing and administering the country (in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "Verily My righteous servants shall inherit the earth" [21:105]). Legislation setting forth regulations for the administration of society will revolve around the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Accordingly, the exercise of meticulous and earnest supervision by just, pious, and committed scholars of Islam (al-fuqaha’ al-‘udul) is an absolute necessity. In addition, the aim of government is to foster the growth of man in such a way that he progresses towards the establishment of a Divine order (in accordance with the Qur'anic phrase "And toward God is the Journeying" [3:28]); and to create favourable conditions for the emergence and blossoming of man's innate capacities, so that the theomorphic dimensions of the human being are manifested (in accordance with the injunction of the Prophet (S), "Mould yourselves according to the Divine morality"); this goal cannot be attained without the active and broad participation of all segments of society in the process of social development.
With due attention to this goal, the Constitution provides the basis of such participation by all members of society at all stages of the political decision-making process on which the destiny of the country depends. In this way, during the course of human development towards perfection, each individual will himself be involved in, and responsible for the growth, advancement, and leadership of society. Precisely in this lies the realization of the government of the mustad‘afun upon the earth (in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "And we wish to show favour to those who have been oppressed upon earth, and to make them leaders and the inheritors" [28:5]).
The Wilayah of the Just Faqih
In keeping with the principles of governance [wilayat al-‘amr] and the perpetual necessity of leadership [imamah], the Constitution provides for the establishment of leadership by a faqih possessing the necessary qualifications [jami’ al-shara‘it.] and recognized as leader by the people (this is in accordance with the hadith "The direction of [public] affairs is in the hands of those who are learned concerning God and are trustworthy in matters pertaining to what He permits and forbids" [Tuhaf al-‘uqul, p. 176]). Such leadership will prevent any deviation by the various organs of State from their essential Islamic duties.
The Economy Is a Means Not an End
In strengthening the foundations of the economy, the fundamental consideration will be fulfillment of the material needs of man in the course of his overall growth and development. This principle contrasts with other economic systems, where the aim is concentration and accumulation of wealth and maximization of profit. In materialist schools of thought, the economy represents an end in itself, so that it comes to be a subversive and corrupting factor in the course of man's development. In Islam, the economy is a means, and all that is required of a means is that it should be an efficient factor contributing to the attainment of the ultimate goal.
From this viewpoint, the economic programme of Islam consists of providing the means needed for the emergence of the various creative capacities of the human being. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Islamic government to furnish all citizens with equal and appropriate opportunities, to provide them with work, and to satisfy their essential needs, so that the course of their progress may be assured.
Woman in the Constitution
Through the creation of Islamic social infrastructures, all the elements of humanity that hitherto served the multifaceted foreign exploitation shall regain their true identity and human rights. As a part of this process, it is only natural that women should benefit from a particularly large augmentation of their rights, because of the greater oppression that they suffered under the taghuti regime.
The family is the fundamental unit of society and the main centre for the growth and edification of human being. Compatibility with respect to belief and ideal, which provides the primary basis for man's development and growth, is the main consideration in the establishment of a family. It is the duty of the Islamic government to provide the necessary facilities for the attainment of this goal. This view of the family unit delivers woman from being regarded as an object or as an instrument in the service of promoting consumerism and exploitation. Not only does woman recover thereby her momentous and precious function of motherhood, rearing of ideologically committed human beings, she also assumes a pioneering social role and becomes the fellow struggler of man in all vital areas of life. Given the weighty responsibilities that woman thus assumes, she is accorded in Islam great value and nobility.
An Ideological Army
In the formation and equipping of the country's defence forces, due attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria. Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them" [8:60]).
The Judiciary in the Constitution
The judiciary is of vital importance in the context of safeguarding the rights of the people in accordance with the line followed by the Islamic movement, and the prevention of deviations within the Islamic nation. Provision has therefore been made for the creation of a judicial system based on Islamic justice and operated by just judges with meticulous knowledge of the Islamic laws. This system, because of its essentially sensitive nature and the need for full ideological conformity, must be free from every kind of unhealthy relation and connection (this is in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "When you judge among the people, judge with justice" [4:58]).
Considering the particular importance of the executive power in implementing the laws and ordinances of Islam for the sake of establishing the rule of just relations over society, and considering, too, its vital role in paving the way for the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, the executive power must work toward the creation of an Islamic society. Consequently, the confinement of the executive power within any kind of complex and inhibiting system that delays or impedes the attainment of this goal is rejected by Islam. Therefore, the system of bureaucracy, the result and product of taghuti forms of government, will be firmly cast away, so that an executive system that functions efficiently and swiftly in the fulfilment of its administrative commitments comes into existence.
The mass-communication media, radio and television, must serve the diffusion of Islamic culture in pursuit of the evolutionary course of the Islamic Revolution. To this end, the media should be used as a forum for healthy encounter of different ideas, but they must strictly refrain from diffusion and propagation of destructive and anti-Islamic practices. It is incumbent on all to adhere to the principles of this Constitution, for it regards as its highest aim the freedom and dignity of the human race and provides for the growth and development of the human being. It is also necessary that the Muslim people should participate actively in the construction of Islamic society by selecting competent and believing [mu‘min] officials and keeping close and constant watch on their performance. They may then hope for success in building an ideal Islamic society that can be a model for all people of the world and a witness to its perfection (in accordance with the Qur’anic verse "Thus We made you a median community, that you might be witnesses to men" [2:143]).
The Assembly of Experts, composed of representatives of the people, completed its task of framing the Constitution, on the basis of the draft proposed by the government as well as all the proposals received from different groups of the people, in one hundred and seventy-five articles arranged in twelve chapters, on the eve of the fifteenth century after the migration of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his Family), the founder of the redeeming school of Islam, and in accordance with the aims and aspirations set out above, with the hope that this century will witness the establishment of a universal government of the mustad’afun and the downfall of all the mustakbirun.
The form of government of Iran is that of an Islamic Republic, endorsed by the people of Iran on the basis of their longstanding belief in the sovereignty of truth and Qur’anic justice, in the referendum of Farwardîn 9 and 10 in the year 1358 of the solar Islamic calendar, corresponding to Jamadial-‘Awwal 1 and 2 in the year 1399 of the lunar Islamic calendar [March 29 and 30, 1979], through the affirmative vote of a majority of 98.2% of eligible voters, held after the victorious Islamic Revolution led by the eminent marji’ altaqlid, Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Imam Khumayni.
The Islamic Republic is a system based on belief in:
(1) the One God (as stated in the phrase "There is no god except Allah"), His exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate, and the necessity of submission to His commands;
(2) Divine revelation and its fundamental role in setting forth the laws;
(3) the return to God in the Hereafter, and the constructive role of this belief in the course of man’s ascent towards God;
(4) the justice of God in creation and legislation;
(5) continuous leadership (imamah) and perpetual guidance, and its fundamental role in ensuring the uninterrupted process of the revolution of Islam;
(6) the exalted dignity and value of man, and his freedom coupled with responsibility before God; in which equity, justice, political, economic, social, and cultural independence, and national solidarity are secured by recourse to:
(a) continuous ijtihad of the fuqaha’ possessing necessary qualifications, exercised on the basis of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Ma’sumun, upon all of whom be peace;
In order to attain the objectives specified in Article 2, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has the duty of directing all its resources to the following goals:
(1) the creation of a favourable environment for the growth of moral virtues based on faith and piety and the struggle against all forms of vice and corruption;
(4) strengthening the spirit of inquiry, investigation, and innovation in ... [areas including] Islamic studies, by establishing research centres and encouraging researchers;
(11) all round strengthening of the foundations of national defence to the utmost degree by means of universal military training for the sake of safeguarding ... the Islamic order of the country;
(12) the planning of a correct and just economic system, in accordance with Islamic criteria ...
(15) the expansion and strengthening of Islamic brotherhood and public cooperation among all the people;
(16) framing the foreign policy of the country on the basis of Islamic criteria, fraternal commitment to all Muslims, and unsparing support to the mustad’afun of the world.
All civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. This principle applies absolutely and generally to all articles of the Constitution as well as to all other laws and regulations, and the fuqaha’ of the Guardian Council are judges in this matter.
During the Occultation of the Walial-‘Asr (may God hasten his reappearance), the wilayah and leadership of the Ummah devolve upon the just [‘adil] and pious [muttaqi] faqih, who is fully aware of the circumstances of his age; courageous, resourceful, and possessed of administrative ability, will assume the responsibilities of this office in accordance with Article 107.
In accordance with the command of the Qur’an contained in the verse ("Their affairs are by consultations among them" [42:38]) and ("Consult them in affairs" [3:159]), consultative bodies---such as the Islamic Consultative Assembly ... and the likes ... are the decision-making and administrative organs of the country. The nature of each of these councils, together with the manner of their formation, their jurisdiction, and scope of their duties and functions, is determined by the Constitution and laws derived from it.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, al-‘amr bilma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar is a universal and reciprocal duty that must be fulfilled by the people with respect to one another, by the government with respect to the people, and by the people with respect to the government. The conditions, limits, and nature of this duty will be specified by law. (This is in accordance with the Qur’anic verse: "The believers, men and women, are guardians of one another, they enjoin the good and forbid the evil" [9:71]).
Since the family is the fundamental unit of Islamic society, all laws, regulations, and pertinent programmes must tend to facilitate the formation of a family, and to safeguard its sanctity and the stability of family relations on the basis of the law and the ethics of Islam.
In accordance with the sacred verse of the Qur’an ("This your community is a single community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me" [21:92]), all Muslims form a single nation, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has the duty of formulating its general policies with a view to cultivating the friendship and unity of all Muslim peoples, and it must constantly strive to bring about the political, economic, and cultural unity of the Islamic world.
The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja’farî school [in usul al-Dîn and fiqh], and this principle will remain eternally immutable. Other Islamic schools, including the Hanafî, Shafi’î, Malikî, Hanbalî, and Zaydî, are to be accorded full respect, and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites. These schools enjoy official status in matters pertaining to religious education, affairs of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance, and wills) and related litigation in courts of law. In regions of the country where Muslims following any one of these schools of fiqh constitute the majority, local regulations, within the bounds of the jurisdiction of local councils, are to be in accordance with the respective school of fiqh, without infringing upon the rights of the followers of other schools.
Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education.
In accordance with the sacred verse ("God does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with those who have not fought against you because of your religion and who have not expelled you from your homes" [60:8]), the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims in conformity with ethical norms and the principles of Islamic justice and equity, and to respect their human rights. This principle applies to all who refrain from engaging in conspiracy or activity against Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Since the language of the Qur’an and Islamic texts and teachings is Arabic ... it must be taught after elementary level, in all classes of secondary school and in all areas of study.
The official calendar of the country takes as its point of departure the migration of the Prophet of Islam God’s peace and blessings upon him and his Family. Both the solar and lunar Islamic calendars are recognized, but government offices will function according to the solar calendar. The official weekly holiday is Friday.
The official flag of Iran ... [contains] the motto (Allahu Akbar).
All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.
The investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.
Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam ...
The formation of ... religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic Republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them.
Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided ... that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.
Everyone has the right to choose any occupation he wishes, if it is not contrary to Islam ...
The cooperative sector [of the economy] is to include cooperative companies and enterprises concerned with production and distribution ... in accordance with Islamic criteria.
Ownership in each of these three sectors is protected by the laws of the Islamic Republic, in so far as this ownership ... does not go beyond the bounds of Islamic law ...
The government has the responsibility of confiscating all wealth accumulated through [various] illicit means and sources ... after investigation and furnishing necessary evidence in accordance with the law of Islam.
The annual budget of the country will be ... drawn up by the government, in the manner specified by law, and submitted to the Islamic Consultative Assembly for discussion and approval ...
The National Accounting Agency is to be directly under the supervision of the Islamic Consultative Assembly ...
The National Accounting Agency will ... submit to the Islamic Consultative Assembly a report for the settlement of each year's budget together with its own comments. ...
Absolute sovereignty over the world and man belongs to God, and it is He Who has made man master of his own social destiny. No one can deprive man of this divine right, nor subordinate it to the vested interests of a particular individual or group. The people are to exercise this divine right in the manner specified in the following articles.
The powers of government in the Islamic Republic ... function under the supervision of the absolute wilayat al-‘amr and the Leadership of the Ummah ...
The functions of the legislature are to be exercised through the Islamic Consultative Assembly ...
... Any request for such direct recourse to public opinion must be approved by two-thirds of the members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
Article 61.The functions of the judiciary are to be performed by courts of justice, which are to be formed in accordance with the criteria of Islam, and are vested with the authority to examine and settle lawsuits, protect the rights of the public, dispense and enact justice, and implement the Divine limits [al-hudud al-‘Ilahiyyah].
[Article 62 et seq. provides for popularly elected Islamic Consultative Assembly as the legislature.]
The Zoroastrians and Jews will each elect one representative; Assyrian and Chaldean Christians will jointly elect one representative; and Armenian Christians in the north and those in the south of the country will each elect one representative [to the legislature].
[Specifies religious imagery in oath of office for members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.]
Members belonging to the religious minorities will swear by their own sacred books while taking this oath.
The Islamic Consultative Assembly cannot enact laws contrary to the usul and ahkam of the official religion of the country or to the Constitution. It is the duty of the Guardian Council to determine whether a violation has occurred, in accordance with Article 96.
With a view to safeguard the Islamic ordinances and the Constitution, in order to examine the compatibility of the legislations passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly with Islam, a council to be known as the Guardian Council is to be constituted with the following composition:
(1) six ‘adil fuqaha’, conscious of the present needs and the issues of the day, to be selected by the Leader, and
(2) six jurists, specializing in different areas of law, to be elected by the Islamic Consultative Assembly from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power.
The Islamic Consultative Assembly does not hold any legal status if there is no Guardian Council in existence, except for the purpose of approving the credentials of its members and the election of the six jurists on the Guardian Council.
All legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly must be sent to the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council must review it within a maximum of ten days from its receipt with a view to ensuring its compatibility with the criteria of Islam and the Constitution. If it finds the legislation incompatible, it will return it to the Assembly for review. Otherwise the legislation will be deemed enforceable.
The determination of compatibility of the legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly with the laws of Islam rests with the majority vote of the fuqaha’ on the Guardian Council; and the determination of its compatibility with the Constitution rests with the majority of all the members of the Guardian Council.
The authority of the interpretation of the Constitution is vested with the Guardian Council, which is to be done with the consent of three-fourths of its members.
The Guardian Council has the responsibility of supervising the elections of the Assembly of Experts for Leadership, the President of the Republic, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and the direct recourse to popular opinion and referenda.
In order to ensure Islamic equity and cooperation in chalking out the programmes and to bring about the harmonious progress of all units of production, both industrial and agricultural councils will be formed ...
Decisions taken by the councils must not be contrary to the criteria of Islam ...
After the demise of the eminent marji’ al-taqlid and great leader of the universal Islamic revolution, and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Imam Khumayni---quddisa sirruh al-sharif---who was recognised and accepted as Marji’ and Leader by a decisive majority of the people, the task of appointing the Leader shall be vested with the experts elected by the people. The experts will review and consult among themselves concerning all the fuqaha’ possessing the qualifications specified in Articles 5 and 109. In the event they find one of them better versed in Islamic regulations, the subjects of the fiqh, or in political and social issues, or possessing general popularity or special prominence for any of the qualifications mentioned in Article 109, they shall elect him as the Leader. Otherwise, in the absence of such a superiority, they shall elect and declare one of them as the Leader. The Leader thus elected by the Assembly of Experts shall assume all the powers of the wilayat al-amr and all the responsibilities arising therefrom.
The Leader is equal with the rest of the people of the country in the eyes of law.
Following are the essential qualifications and conditions for the Leader:
(a) scholarship, as required for performing the functions of muftiin different fields of fiqh.
(b) Justice and piety, as required for the leadership of the Islamic Ummah.
Following are the duties and powers of the Leadership:
(6) Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
(a) the fuqaha’ on the Guardian Council.
(11) Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria ...
Till the appointment of the new Leader [upon death, resignation, or dismissal], a council consisting of ... a faqih from the Guardian Council [among others], upon the decision of the Nation’s Exigency Council, shall temporarily take over all the duties of the Leader. ...
Upon the order of the Leader, the Nation’s Exigency Council shall meet at any time the Guardian Council judges a proposed bill of the Islamic Consultative Assembly to be against the principles of Shari’ah or the Constitution, and the Assembly is unable to meet the expectations of the Guardian Council. Also, the Council shall meet for consideration on any issue forwarded to it by the Leader and shall carry out any other responsibility as mentioned in this Constitution.
The permanent and changeable members of the Council shall be appointed by the Leader. The rules for the Council shall be formulated and approved by the Council members subject to the confirmation by the Leader.
The President must be elected from among religious and political personalities possessing the following qualifications:
Iranian origin; Iranian nationality; administrative capacity and resourcefulness; a good past-record; trustworthiness and piety; convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official madhhab of the country.
Responsibility for the supervision of the election of the President lies with the Guardian Council, as stipulated in Article 99. But before the establishment of the first Guardian Council, however, it lies with a supervisory body to be constituted by law.
[Specifies Presidential oath with significant Islamic imagery, without accommodation for non-Muslims or the irreligious, including:] ... seeking help from God and following the Prophet of Islam and the infallible Imams (peace be upon them), ...
The President, within the limits of his powers and duties, which he has by virtue of this Constitution or other laws, is responsible to the people, the Leader and the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
The President or his legal representative has the authority to sign treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements concluded by the Iranian government with other governments, as well as agreements pertaining to international organizations, after obtaining the approval of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
The President shall submit his resignation to the Leader ...
[upon various contingencies] The Council, consisting of the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, head of the judicial power, and the first deputy of the President, is obliged to arrange for a new President to be elected within a maximum period of fifty days.
The ratifications and the regulations of the government and the decisions of the commissions mentioned under this Article shall also be brought to the notice of the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly while being communicated for implementation so that in the event he finds them contrary to law, he may send the same stating the reason for reconsideration by the Council of Ministers.
Allegations of common crimes against the President, his deputies, and the ministers will be investigated in common courts of justice with the knowledge of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
... [I]t is forbidden for [President, the deputies to the President, ministers, and government employees] ... to be a member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly ...
The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be an Islamic Army, i.e., committed to Islamic ideology and the people, and must recruit into its service individuals who have faith in the objectives of the Islamic Revolution and are devoted to the cause of realizing its goals.
In time of peace, the government must utilize the personnel and technical equipment of the Army in ... the Construction Jihad, while fully observing the criteria of Islamic justice ...
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, organized in the early days of the triumph of the Revolution, is to be maintained so that it may continue in its role of guarding the Revolution and its achievements. The scope of the duties of this Corps, and its areas of responsibility, in relation to the duties and areas of responsibility of the other armed forces, are to be determined by law, with emphasis on brotherly cooperation and harmony among them.
In accordance with the noble Qur’anic verse:
[Persian Text omitted]
Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and horses ready for battle, striking fear into God’s enemy and your enemy, and others beyond them unknown to you but known to God ... (8:60). the government is obliged to provide a programme of military training, with all requisite facilities, for all its citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria ...
The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based upon ... the defence of the rights of all Muslims [among others] ...
The Islamic Republic of Iran ... supports the just struggles of the mustad’afun against the mustakbirun in every corner of the globe.
The judiciary is ... entrusted with the following duties:
(4) ... enacting the penalties and provisions of the Islamic penal code;
... [T]he Leader shall appoint a just Mujtahid well versed in judiciary affairs and possessing prudence and administrative abilities as the head of the judiciary power for a period of five years who shall be the highest judicial authority.
The chief of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor-General must both be just mujtahids well versed in judicial matters. ...
The conditions and qualifications to be fulfilled by a judge will be determined by law, in accordance with the criteria of fiqh.
The judge is bound to endeavour to judge each case on the basis of the codified law. In case of the absence of any such law, he has to deliver his judgement on the basis of authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatawa. ...
... The manner of the selection of the jury, its powers, and the definition of political offences, will be determined by law in accordance with the Islamic criteria.
Judges of courts are obliged to refrain from executing statutes and regulations of the government that are in conflict with the laws or the norms of Islam ...
... the defaulting judge must stand surety for the reparation of that loss in accordance with the Islamic criteria ...
The freedom of expression and dissemination of thoughts in the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be guaranteed in keeping with the Islamic criteria ...
The appointment and dismissal of the head of the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran rests with the Leader. A council consisting of two representatives each of ... the Islamic Consultative Assembly [among others] shall supervise the functioning of this organization.
[Amendments to constitution made by] Council for Revision of the Constitution which consists of:
(1) Members of the Guardian Council.
(5) Ten representatives selected by the Leader.
(8) Ten representatives from among the members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
The contents of the Articles of the Constitution related to the Islamic character of the political system; the basis of all the rules and regulations according to Islamic criteria; the religious footing; ... the wilayat al-‘amr; the Imamate of Ummah; and the administration of the affairs of the country based on ... official religion of Iran [Islam] and the school [Twelver Ja’fari] are unalterable.
Sources1 The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and is directed by Jonathan Fox. Round 3 of the RAS includes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states and offers annual measures from 1990 to 2014. The methods used for conducting the RAS3 collection and the complete codebook can be reviewed online. Or, the codebook and data file can be downloaded free of charge here. For details on how the RAS indexes reported on the ARDA’s National Profiles were coded, constructed, and placed into categories, click here.
2 Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. World Religion Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2022).
3 The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.
4 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.
5 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.
6 The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes. The Center continually monitors political behavior in each of the world's major states and reports on emerging issues and persisting conditions related to the problems of political violence and "state failure." A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission. *Note: Polity Scores range from -10 to 10 and include the following categories: -10 to -9: strongly autocratic, -8 to -7 autocratic, -6 to -4 weakly autocratic, -3 to +3 anocratic, +4 to +6 weakly democratic, +7 to +8 democratic, +9 to +10 strongly democratic.
7 Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is a new approach to conceptualizing and measuring democracy. V-Dem provides a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between seven high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, egalitarian, majoritarian, and consensual, and collects data to measure these principles. A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission.
8 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.
9 Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
10 Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at
11 The World Values Survey is a worldwide investigation of socio-cultural and political change. It is conducted by a network of social scientists at leading universities around the world. Interviews have been carried out with nationally representative samples of the publics of more than 80 societies. A total of four waves have been carried out since 1981. The ARDA has averaged the weighted responses across the waves for each country surveyed. The average responses for all countries have been placed in a single file and can be previewed and downloaded here. See the World Values Survey website for further information and to download the original survey data: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/.
12 Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that offers measures of the extent to which governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
13 The CIA's World Factbook was created as an annual summary and update to the now defunct National Intelligence Survey (NIS) studies. The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971. The NIS program was terminated in 1973 except for the Factbook, map, and gazetteer components. The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public with sales through the US Government Printing Office (GPO). The year 2010 marks the 67th year of the World Factbook and its predecessor programs. The maps and flags are also from the World Factbook, which is an open source.
14 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.
15 The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is a systematic, empirical measurement of economic freedom in countries throughout the world. A set of objective economic criteria are used to study and grade various countries for the annual publication of the Index of Economic Freedom. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
16 The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
17 The 2013 Gender Inequality Index is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market. It varies between zero (when women and men fare equally) and one (when men or women fare poorly compared to the other in all dimensions). The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labor dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force. Source: The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
18 Military data is drawn from the National Material Capabilities (v4.0) dataset, which is a component of and hosted by the Correlates of War Project. The Correlates of War Project seeks to facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations. Correlates of War data may be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.
19 The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.
20 The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset contains standards-based quantitative information on government respect for 15 internationally recognized human rights for 202 countries, annually from 1981-2011. It is designed for use by scholars and students who seek to test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as policy makers and analysts who seek to estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention. The full CIRI Human Rights Dataset can be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.