NAJAF, Iraq — With religious Shiite parties poised to take power in Iraq's new national assembly, leading Shiite clerics are pushing for Islam to be enshrined in the new constitution, governing such matters as marriage, divorce and family inheritance.
On other issues, opinion varies, with the more conservative leaders insisting that Shariah, or Islamic law, be the foundation for all legislation.
Such a constitution would be a sharp departure from the transitional law that the Americans enacted before appointing the interim Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. One focus of the U.S. effort then was to secure equal rights for women and minorities. Under Shariah, for instance, daughters would receive half the inheritances of sons.
But in the national assembly, the U.S. influence will be much reduced.
When the interim law was written in early 2004, U.S. officials persuaded Iraqi drafters to designate Islam as just "a source" of legislation. That irked senior Shiite clerics, who, confident they have a popular mandate from the elections, are advocating for Islam to be recognized as the underpinning of the government.
The clerics' demands underscore the biggest question surrounding the new government: How Islamic will it be?