Disenchantment with this country's triumphant revolution is perhaps greatest among Iranians who fear that its summary executions and punishments inevitably will lead to the full rigors of Islamic justice.
Such fears are fed by postrevolutionary confusion surrounding the application of justice, the Islamic thundering of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and seemingly daily examples of revolutionary justice meted out across the country to those deemed enemies of the people.
The newspapers and state-controlled "Voice of the Uevolution" radio are full of reports of executions, floggings and "suspension" of liberal legislation, carried out in the name of the sharia, or Islamic law.
Khomeini himself has contributed mightily to the anxiety by constantly underlining the need to scrap Western-inspired legislation and return to Islamic laws. He also generated apprehension on his return to Qom last week when he said there was no justice in the Minstry of Justice.
Particulary worried are women. They note sign s that liveral legislation defending them is being questioned by religious authorities who insist all family problems -- divorce, inheritance, marriage -- behandled by the sharia.
But liberal lawyers are convinced that the lay public's fears about an Islamic legal system are baseless. They note that the recently completed draft constitution not only insists on strengthened provisions for independence of the judiciary, but also omits any role for sharia courts.
"But judicial independence here is stronger even than in France and allows no intervention by the religious authorities," said Abdol Karim Lahidji, a prominent human rights activist who helped draw up the draft constitution.
He said he is convinced the public debate on the constitution will be democratic. "I am an optimist because I know the people of Iran," he added. "There is no chance of despotism or dictatorship."
Despite reports that sharia courts are taking over most criminal cases except white collar crime such as embezzlement and passing bad checks, Lahidji stressed, "All laws remain in force until a new parliament is elected and changes them," a process at least everal months off.
But many Iranians -- and even some judges -- are not so easily convinced.
Upset by an announcement of the suspension of the 1967 Family Protection Act, which basically outlawed Islamic tolerance of polygamy and unilateral divorce by husbands, women's groups have served notice they will demonstrate in protest at Tehran University on Thursday, International Women's day.
Lahidji said no official letter has been sent to the Justice Ministry demanding the act's repeal and that the justice minister was investigating suggestions that the "suspension" was decided by some revolutionary committee, not Khomeini himself.
Liberals and leftists also have protested in the press -- often in letters to the editor -- about the arbitary nature of revolutionary justice. In Abadan, an oil center on the Persian test a recent summary execution. Gulf, demonstrarors marched to pro-
A prominent judge has expressed fear that as many as 90 percent of Iran's 1,800 magistrates would resign if sharia courts get jurisdiction over murder, theft and family problems.
"Civil courts would be reduced to handling white collar crime -- embezzlement, narctics offenses, forgery, bad checks, sophisticated fraud, he said, "the kind of thing that didn't exist in the 17th century when sharia was dreamed up."
Particulary distressing in sharia jurisprudence he said, was a lack of appeal procedures and insistence that sentences be handed down after a single hearing. The judge mentioned reports suggesting Khomeini wants to reduce the number of appeals courts in Tehran from 15 to five and attach a mullah, or Moslem cleric, to each remaining bench.
But optimists were cheered by the recent nomination of Judge Mehdi Madavi as proseoutor general of the Islamic revolution. He already has begun sending cases to civilian examining magistrates, thereby imposing civil jurisprudence on the revolutionary courts.
Lahidji insisted that despite the summary trials and executions, the rest of civil jurisprudence has been respected during the turmoil of the past three weeks.
Without excusing such aspects of the revolutionary tribunals as the ordering of the execution of eight generals in Tehran alone, Lahidji said warrants had been issued by examining magistrates for arrests and that those arrested have been charged in keeping wigh normal procedure.
He estimated that between 700 and 800 Iranians are detained at Qasr Prison and perhaps another 600 in other prisons in Tehran.
Based on visits to prisons, he said generals under arrest had told him they were not beaten, that the food was simple -- bread and cheese, and that they slept on rugs with blankets, six to eight to a room.
"These have been three very confusing weeks and it could have been worse," Lahidji said. "Compared to the days of martial law or [the shah's] old regime, there has been more respect for legality and democracy despite irregularities.
"Don't forget that after the revolution we had no police, gendarmes or army, and there are 300,000 weapons in private hands in Tehran alone."