Innumerable modernization measures were implemented in nineteenth-century Iran, in what might be called a process of translation. In the course of translating new ideas into the Iranian context by means of applying old expressions, Iranian legal language underwent sequences of change. To gain a better understanding of current struggles over the proper interpretation of some basic concepts, the paper seeks to explain how the concept of freedom was modified, by reference to Koselleck’s “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation”. The analysis is based on Mostašār od-Doule’s treatise Yek kalame (“One word”), one of the most important nineteenth-century Iranian source texts, which greatly influenced the further development of the Iranian freedom movement.
In the last century and a half, modern legal ideas and institutions have more or less found their way into traditional Muslim societies. The translation and transmission of foreign ideas, notions, and concepts into the Islamic context brought about a crisis, which has led to the evaluation of a field of discourse over modernity. The current paper seeks to explain the modifications of the legal language and concepts within the constitutional experience of the Islamic world during the 19th and 20th centuries, by reference to Reinhart Koselleck’s “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation”. For this purpose, the essay deals with the development of the modern concept of “equality” and some related notions, such as “justice” and “fairness”, with a focus on selected source texts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman-Turkish.