The question of the relationship between religion and the state in the Islamic world is as old as Islam itself. The experiences of Turkey and Iran during the past 30 years qualify among the most instructive applications of the relationship. In these two cases, the interaction between the systems of governance, on the one hand, and the Islamic cultural and legislative heritage, on the other, represents a common factor, whereas they differ in terms of the doctrinal reference on which each of these experiences is based. They also differ in perspective, application mechanisms and their relations with the West. The present research can be encapsulated, in broad outline, under five main headlines which raise questions more than provide answers: (1) the historical background of the relationship between religion and the state in the Turkish and Iranian models; (2) the effect of the ascent of revolutionary Islam in Iran, after the revolution of 1979, on the problematic of state–religion relations; (3) from ‘well-being’ to ‘justice and development’: limitations and prospects of a historical compromise between religion, secularism and the state; (4) points of controversy and commonalities in the Turkish and Iranian experiences from the 1980s to the end of 2012; and (5) looking into the relationship of each of these two models with the Arab Spring revolutions: are they determinants of these revolutions or investing in their development?

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