Thursday, May 16, 2013

Note on Article 115 of the Iranian Constitution

Another excerpt from my paper on Islamic Feminism in Iran in the wake of the announcement by Ayatollah Yazdi (via Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times's Twitter page) saying that all 12 women who registered for the Iranian Presidential Elections will be disqualified.

... Article 115 of the Iranian constitution states that only a man is allowed to become president[i]. While this is somewhat problematic as the vote for president should theoretically be a democratic affair, the biggest problem is the reasoning for this ruling. Initially it was decided that the reference in the Koran that leaders should be rajol (an Arabic word meaning "man" also transliterated as rejal) meant that the president must be a man[ii]. This is problematic as rajol is often a gender-neutral term and in Arabic literature it can mean "woman", "mankind", or "personality"[iii]. Persian is more or less a genderless language and a term such as rajol can cause difficulties, as gender indicated within the word may not mean the same thing in Persian and in Arabic. Faezeh Rafsanjani the daughter of the influential former President Rafsanjani considers this law to be hypocritical as women are allowed to run other governmental departments, but not the office of the presidency[iv].

[i] Ahmadi, 2006, p.48
[ii] Ibid, p. 48
[iii] Ibid, p. 48
[iv] Via Ahmadi, citing Azadeh Kian-Thiébaut, “Islamist and Secular Women Unite: Iranian Women Take on the Mullahs,” Le Monde Diplomatique (November 1996),

UPDATE 1: Spoken to several Arabic speakers, and consulted my Arabic dictionary and the definition of Rajol as anything other than "man" seems increasingly unlikely. The dictionary does have the plural of Rajol (rijal, rijalat) as "important men or great personalities", but to me this is an implied masculine. Rejal in Persian is "men, statesmen, distinguished men, dignitaries, personages, V.I.P.s" I am uncertain why Ahmadi has claimed this with such authority, but as she is the one with the Ph.D. and I am not, I will have to differ to her.

No comments:

Post a Comment