Which Countries Have The Term "Islamic Republic" In Their Names?

The flags of both Mauritania (left) and Pakistan (right) reflect the Islamic religion using the color green as well as a cresent and star.
The flags of both Mauritania (left) and Pakistan (right) reflect the Islamic religion using the color green as well as a cresent and star.

What Is An Islamic Republic?

An Islamic Republic is any state in the world that is officially governed by Islamic law, which is also known as Sharia or Sharia law. Presently, there are four such states, namely the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mauritania, and Iran. The first nation to adopt Islamic law and the term “Islamic Republic” was Pakistan back in 1956 while Mauritania was second after adopting it on November 28, 1958. Iran came third after adopting the name after the conclusion of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 while Afghanistan did it recently in 2004 after the collapse of the Taliban administration. Despite the fact these nations are governed by Islamic law, their individual laws and style of government are quite different.

Differing Opinions on the Meaning of Islamic Republic

Naturally, the term has come to have different meanings in different areas. For some Muslim religious leaders in Africa and the Middle East, the term “Islamic Republic” means a nation under a particular form of Islamic government. In other words, they regard an Islamic Republic as a concession between a caliphate that is purely Islamic and secular republicanism and nationalism. In addition, the penal code (the law relating to crime and punishment) has to be in line with some or all the laws contained in Islamic law. These leaders also believe that the republic cannot be a monarchy, as is the case with most Middle Eastern States.

The World's Four Islamic Republics


Despite being first in adopting the name “Islamic” in 1956, Pakistan did not have a national religion until the adoption of a new and more religious constitution in 1973. However, despite the official name of the country containing the term "Islamic Republic," no government documents have the term. Instead, government documents use the name the “Government of Pakistan.” However, visas, passports, and coins all use the name “Islamic.”


Iran became an Islamic Republic after the conclusion of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After the revolution, the nation had the Iranian Islamic Republic referendum in March 1979 and became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979. In that referendum, a whopping 98.2% of the Iranians voted for the country to be an Islamic Republic. Before the referendum, some groups wanted the people to vote for the nation to be ready to be simply a republic. However, Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic of Iran, urged the people to vote specifically for an “Islamic Republic” and not simply a Republic.


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is made up of three branches namely the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature. The president is at the head of the government who is assisted by two vice presidents. The legislature consists of the National Assembly, which is bicameral. The house is made up of the House of Elders and the House of the People while the Chief Justice heads the judiciary.


Located in the Maghreb region of northern Africa, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania became an Islamic nation on November 28, 1960. The national language is Arabic, which is the language used in the Quran. The nation has had problems with coups with the most recent one being in 2008.


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