Geography of Transnational Islam and Foreign Policy of Islamic Republic of Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Prof., Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran

2 Ph.D. Candidate in of International Relations, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University

3 Ph.D. Candidate in Geography & Urban Planning, University of Tehran


Extended Abstract
According to the teachings of Islam, jurists and scholars are providing a global picture of the
transnational system which is clearly different from the current political system evolved since
the Westphalia treaty. The first feature of such a system is to ignore the national government
and the states territory. Islam recognizes the ideological borders and a nation state based on
ideas or principles that leads to mutual coherence and unity among Muslims. According to these
intelligentsia, dispersion and scattering in Muslim world, is the result of the direct manipulation
of the imperialist powers that divided it into diverse nation states. Therefore, the thinking trend
towards the third world among major decision makers of Islamic republic of Iran and the efforts
for uniting such various and scattered block are due to the religious insights of decision makers
and the historical experience of imperial power in the Islamic world.
The aim of this study is to compare two different political thoughts known as Islamic thought
which believes in a nation-centered system and nationalism which is called Westphalian from
which national state is generated.
This study attempts to evaluate the following hypotheses:
a. Due to the divergence of nationality, Islam pays attention to ideological boundaries, the
principle of national divergence, and ignorance of national government. It rejects 
geographic and political diversity in the human communities (ethnic, cultural, racial)
and tries to establish a unified community with a powerful center.
b. the above mentioned components need a particular foreign policy for Iran or any
Muslim country which pays attention to Muslims, oppressed countries and the third
World countries.
In the present study, we have tried to identify the differences between two approaches of
transnational system of Islamic world and the Westphalian system. It was also attempted to
investigate the reasons of relatively stable foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran resulted
from such an approach. To do so, we have tried to make use of an integration of different
Humanities subjects such as political science, international relations, international law and
geopolitics to develop a clear framework to deal with contradictions of the national government
with Islamic government. Therefore, the research method was descriptive-analytic using
deduction at large scale. We have also tried to make extensive use of library information
including Islamic sources, Islamic political thought, and political and International law
Results and Discussion
With the exploration of historical data relating to the foreign relations of the past decade, we can
find out that trends, decisions, actions, and foreign policiesof Iran in a dynamic and changing
range has gone through different historical changes including thorough rejection of the
foundations of Westphalian system and reconciliation and tolerance and acceptance of the
existence of such a society and acting within the rules of the game.
Accordingly, in the early stages of the revolution and the establishment of a new political
system in Iran, maintaining the principles of international societies such as national government
were ignored and the establishment of an ideal system controlled by global government of Islam
was emphasized.
In the second decade of the Islamic republic of Iran, while using some of the past
experiences, developing relationships and partnerships with other governments, active
participation in international institutions, utilizing of external resources, especially in technical
and economic fields as vital factors, were emphasized. However, the transnational system of
Islamic world at present is supported by Islamic republic of Iran and some of Muslim countries.
It has components such as the trend towards establishing an Islamic block, attention to the third
world countries, supporting the poor in the world and replacing Islamic international Law as a
base for political behavior of Islamic governments.
It could be concluded that there is a clear difference between the two trends of transnational
systems of Islam world (which is built on ideological principles) and national branching
principle. Transnational system of Islam world ignores national government and territories of 
the other governments and instead recognizes ideological boundaries and divides the world into
two blocks: Islam and Blasphemy. In contrast to this system we can findWestphalian system
which is built upon geopolitical hierarchy. The most important feature of such system is the
emergence, growth and development of the national governments which extends all around the
world even the world of Islam. Political behavior and foreign relations of Islamic republic of
Iran during the last three decades indicate the absolute rejection of Westphalian system. Thus, in
the first decade of revolution, the maintaining principles of International system, including
national governments, international institutions, the balance of power, the role of international
forces were rejected and ignored. But in the second decade, while keeping some of the previous
components, developing relations and cooperation with other states, active participation in
international institutions, using external sources particularly technical and economic ones were
highlighted as very necessary.


Main Subjects

Volume 45, Issue 4 - Serial Number 4
January 2014
Pages 119-136
  • Receive Date: 19 April 2011
  • Revise Date: 18 January 2014
  • Accept Date: 13 February 2013
  • First Publish Date: 22 December 2013