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Iran - Glossary Index
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook

      Glossary -- Iran

      barrels per day
      Production of crude oil and petroleum products is frequently measured in barrels per day, often abbreviated bpd or bd. A barrel is a volume measure of forty-two United States gallons. Conversion of barrels to tons depends on the density of the specific product. About 7.3 barrels of average crude oil weigh one ton. Heavy crude would be about seven barrels per ton. Light products, such as gasoline and kerosene, average close to eight barrels per ton.
      A tribal leader; term is used by some Turkic-speaking tribes.
      development plan
      Iran's development plans have been of varying length and had various names. The plans and their dates under Mohammad Reza Shah were as follows: First Development Plan--September 21, 1948, to September 20, 1955; Second Development Plan--September 21, 1955, to September 20, 1962; Third Development Plan--September 21, 1962, to March 20, 1968; Fourth Development Plan--March 21, 1968, to March 20, 1973; and Fifth Development Plan--March 21, 1973, to March 20, 1978. The Sixth Development Plan, beginning March 21, 1978, was never completed because of the 1979 Revolution. The First Development Plan of the Islamic Republic ran from March 21, 1983, through March 20, 1988.
      An expert in religious jurisprudence, specifically a Shia cleric whose mastery of the Quran, the traditions of the Prophet and the Twelve Imans, and the codices of Shia Islamic law permit him to render binding interpretations of religious laws and regulations.
      fiscal year (FY)
      Corresponds to the Iranian calendar year, which begins March 21 and ends March 20.
      gross domestic product (GDP)
      The total value of goods and services produced within a country's borders during a fixed period, usually one year. Obtained by adding the value contributed by each sector of the economy in the form of compensation of employees, profits, and depreciation (consumption of capital). Subsistence production is included and consists of the imputed value of production by the farm family for its own use and the imputed rental value of owner-occupied dwellings.
      gross national product (GNP)
      Gross domestic product (q.v.) plus the income received from abroad by residents, less payments remitted abroad to nonresidents.
      Tradition based on the precedent of Muhammad's words that serves as one of the sources of Islamic Law (shariat).
      Modesty in attire; defined by the Shia clergy to mean that women and girls must cover all their hair and flesh except for hands and face when in public. It is not necessary to wear a chador (a cloth serving as a cloak) to conform with hejab, although the two terms often are equated.
      Literally, a follower of the party of God. Hezbollahis originally were followers of a particular religious figure who eventually came to constitute an unofficial political party. They were not an irregular or paramilitary group.
      Among Twelver Shias the principal meaning is a designation of one of the twelve legitimate successors of the Prophet Muhammad. Also used by both Shias (q.v.) and Sunnis (q.v.) to designate a congregational prayer leader or cleric.
      International Monetary Fund (IMF)
      Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
      Islamic clergy
      The religious leaders of Shia (q.v.) Islam, which group includes numerous mullahs (q.v.), who in general possess only rudimentary religious education; mujtahids, a relatively small body of religious scholars, the majority of whom are accorded the title of hojjatoleslam; and a small number of the most learned and pious of the mujtahids, who are given the title of ayatollah.
      The struggle to establish the law of God on earth, often interpreted to mean holy war.
      The village headman in rural Iran; also used as the title for leaders of some tribal clans.
      A religious college or seminary that trains men in Islamic jurisprudence.
      An agreed upon amount of money and/or property that a groom provides his bride as specified in the marriage contract.
      the term is used in two senses: the legislative body of imperial Iran, which included both a senate--composed of members appointed by the shah and elected members--and an elected lower house of representatives; and, the lower house alone. The Senate provided for in the constitution did not come into existence until 1950; the Senate was dissolved under Mossadeq but was revived later. Khomeini's revolutionary Constitution of 1979 eliminated the Senate, leaving only the lower house, or Majlis, in existence.
      Primary school operated by Shia clergy.
      Literally, the disinherited; originally a religious term for the poor, which has become popularized.
      Generic term for a member of the Islamic clergy; usually refers to a preacher or other low-ranking cleric who has not earned the right to interpret religious laws.
      A temporary marriage, the duration of which is stipulated by contract. Only Twelver Shias (q.v.) recognize muta marriages.
      Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
      Coordinates petroleum policies of thirteen major producing countries. In early 1987 members included Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
      Iranian currency. Average official rate in 1987 was 71.46 rials to US$1. Official exchange rate, as of December 19, 1984, is determined daily based on Special Drawing Right (q.v.) rial rate and applies to all foreign exchange transactions. In practice, the unofficial black market rate is as much as ten times the official exchange rate.
      shariat (sharia in Arabic)
      Islamic canon law. Among Shias (q.v.) the shariat includes the Quran and the authenticated sayings of the Prophet (hadith) and the Twelve Imams (q.v.).
      Leader or chief. Term is used by Iranian Arabs for tribal chiefs and by Lurs and Kurds for religious leaders.
      Shia (or Shiite)
      A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The Shias supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the world Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.) in the first great schism of Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shias.
      Special Drawing Right (SDR)
      A standardized monetary unit used by the International Monetary Fund (q.v.). It is standardized against all currencies using it instead of the home country's currency and is drawn from a pool of contributions by member countries.
      A member of the larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The Sunnis, who rejected the claim of Ali's line, believe that they are the true followers of the sunna, the guide to proper behavior composed of the Quran and the hadith (q.v.).
      topping plant
      A plant that removes only the lightest commodity from crude oil.
      velayat-e faqih
      The guardianship of the religious jurist. Concept elaborated by Ayatollah Khomeini to justify political rule by the clergy.
      White Revolution
      Term used by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to designate the program of economic and social reforms he initiated in 1963.
      World Bank
      Informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance specifically designed to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The three institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).

    NOTE: The information regarding Iran on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iran Glossary information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iran Glossary should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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