Islamic Law and Society in Iran: A Social History of Qajar Tehran, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Islamic Law and Society in Iran

A Social History of Qajar Tehran, 1st Edition

By Nobuaki Kondo


210 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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The relationship between Islamic law and society is an important issue in Iran under the Islamic Republic. Although Islamic law was a pivotal element in the traditional Iranian society, no comprehensive research has been made until today. This is because modern reformers emphasized the lack of rule of law in nineteenth-century Iran. However, a legal system did exist, and Islamic law was a substantial part of it.

This is the first book on the relationship between Islamic law and the Iranian society during the nineteenth century. The author explores the legal aspects of urban society in Iran and provides the social context in which political process occurred and examines how authorities applied law in society, how people utilized the law, and how the law regulated society. Based on rich archival sources including court records and private deeds from Qajar Tehran, this book explores how Islamic law functioned in Iranian society. The judicial system, sharia court, and religious endowments (vaqf) are fully discussed, and the role of ‘ulama as legal experts is highlighted throughout the book. It challenges nationalist and modernist views on nineteenth-century Iran and provides a unique model in terms of the relationship between Islamic law and society, which is rather different from the Ottoman case.

Providing an understanding of this legal system in Iran and its role in society, this book offers a basis for assessing the motives and results of modern reforms as well as the modernist discourse. This book will be of interest to students of Middle Eastern and Iranian Studies.

Table of Contents


1. Historical Development of Tehran 

2. Judicial System

3.Shari‘a Court 

4. Actual Dispute: Case of Double Vaqf

5. Attestations and Transactions in Shari‘a Courts

6. Vaqfs in Tehran

7. Vaqf and Private Property

8. Transformation of Vaqfs


About the Author

Nobuaki Kondo is a Professor at Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. His research interests cover early modern history of Iran and the Persianate societies. His most important publication is Persian Documents (Routledge, 2003).

About the Series

Royal Asiatic Society Books

The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 ‘for the investigation of subjects connected with, and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to, Asia’. Informed by these goals, the policy of the Society’s Editorial Board is to make available in appropriate formats the results of original research in the humanities and social sciences having to do with Asia, defined in the broadest geographical and cultural sense and up to the present day.

Editorial Board:
Professor Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (Chair); Professor Tim Barrett, SOAS, University of London, UK; Dr Evrim Binbaş, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; Professor Anna Contadini, SOAS, University of London, UK; Professor Michael Feener, National University of Singapore; Dr Gordon Johnson, University of Cambridge, UK; Professor David Morgan, University of Wisconsin–Madison, US; Dr. BMC Brend; Dr. R. Llewellyn Jones MBE

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General