Religious Democracy and Principle of National Sovereignty

Dr. Mohsen Esma’ili [1]

In the midst of all questions surrounding religious democracy, the establishing of the actual position of national sovereignty is of great significance. The importance of this issue arises from the fact that national sovereignty is the basis of democracy. On the other hand, religious democracy considers itself sincere to national sovereignty (in the absence of `Velayate Faqhih’ (Vice – regency of high religious authorities of Shi’a jurisprudents). If both facts are placed together, it is natural to question whether the thoughts of religious democracy can be loyal to actual national sovereignty or not?

The present article, which seeks to provide answers to these questions, is organized in two parts. The first part under the topic ’The Principle of National Sovereignty and the Theory of Democracy in the West and in International Documents’ will shed light on the analysis and the meaning of national sovereignty and its application and also on the fundamentals and context of the theory of democracy in the west and finally the aspects of national sovereignty, based on the theories of democracy, given the multiple definitions on democracy and different readings and official definition of this theory which has been coded in international documents, notably in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ and ‘the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’.

In the second part, the same topic will be reviewed from the point of view of founders and supporters of the theory “Religious Democracy” and eventually, comparative studies will be conducted. The second part will focus on defining the position of “Principle of National Sovereignty and Religious Democracy Theory” in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran. The reason for allocating this section is to study the Constitution so that it can and should be known as the most reliable official and documented interpretation from the point of religious democracy and we can thus avoid the differences of opinion and definition of this theory.

This section will start with the history of the theory of Islamic Republic and its analysis which surrounds the internal conflict of this theory and the response to it. After that, Article 56 of the Constitution will be studied since this is the only article under the topic ‘People’s Sovereignty and Its Powers’ which expresses the concept ‘National Sovereignty’. A historical and analytical look at the history of inclusion (compilation) of Article 56 and the related discussion and developments is the basis of the present article and can be a good guide for our researchers of Human Rights. In conclusion section an explanation will be given on how the integration of democratic practices with monotheistic worldview on the basis of several principles of law making led to the drafting of this article.

Chapter I: The principle of national sovereignty and theory of democracy in the west and international documents

1. National Sovereignty; Basis of Democracy


People’s theory on ruling and democracy: no matter what the definition is, this concept is based on national sovereignty. The influence and impact of people’s vote which decides the social destiny of people is interpreted and expressed differently. The various scientific points of view describe the nature of sovereignty, but the output of all these discourses indicates that the meaning of sovereignty is the application of superior power, complete and uncontrollable power which has full capability and is not affected by any other powers.[2] In other words, sovereignty is higher power of authority or possibility of implementation of the people’s will higher than others’ will. (Ghazi, 1994, P.187; and Katoozian, 1998, PP.186-203)

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[1] Senior lecturer of Imam Sadeq University

[2] Black’s Law dictionary, West Publishing Co. 6thEd. 1992, P.1392