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Ruhollah Khomeini

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (آیت‌الله روح‌الله خمینی in Persian) (May 17, 1900 - June 3, 1989) was an Iranian Shiite fundamentalist cleric and the political and spiritual leader of the 1979 revolution that overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran. He is considered to be the founder of the modern Shiite State and ruled Iran from the Shah's overthrow to his death in 1989.

Ayatollah Khomeini

He was born in the town of Khomein as Ruhollah Mousavi in 1902. Khomeini was named an Ayatollah in the 1950s. In 1964 he was exiled from Iran for his constant criticisms of the government. He fled to Iraq, where he stayed until being forced to leave in 1978, after which he went to France. He returned to Iran on February 1, 1979, invited by a revolution already in progress against the Shah, and seized power on February 11. From then on an Islamic Republic was formed in which a president is elected every 4 years. Only those candidates approved by the Ayatollahs may run for the office. Khomeni himself became Head of State for life, as "Leader of the Revolution," and later "Supreme Spiritual Leader."

On February 4, 1980 Khomeini approved the elected Abolhassan Banisadr as the first president of Iran.

Khomeini's rule quickly ended the westernized society that had existed under the Shah. Shia Islamic Law was instituted, strict dress code became the law and enforced for both men and women. Women lost many of their rights as equal citizens, and freedom of speech and press continued to be curtailed. Khomeini became the center of a large personality cult, and opposition to the religous rule or Islam in general was often met with very harsh punishments. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution there were widespread allegations of systematic human rights abuses, including torture.

Early in the revolution in the years of 1979 - 1981, Khomeini's followers held 52 Americans captive in Tehran's US embassy, holding them hostage for 444 days. Khomeini stated on February 23, 1980 that Iran's parliament would decide the fate of the American embassy hostages. President Jimmy Carter attempted to rescue the hostages, but this failed when the helicopters sent on this mission failed under desert conditions in Tabas. Some Iranians considered this to be a miracle. Many commentators point to this failure as a major cause of Carter's loss in the following elections to Ronald Reagan.

Shortly after taking power, Khomeini began calling for similar Islamic revolutions across the Middle East. Fearful of the threat of the spread of Khomeini's militant brand of Shiism, the republic of Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran, effectively starting what would become a decade-long Iran-Iraq war.

In early 1989 Khomeini ordered the killing of Salman Rushdie for blasphemy against the prophet Muhammed. The Satanic Verses, Rushdie's novelistic examination of the integration of Indian characters into modern Western culture, contains passages which can be read as implying, amongst other things, that the Koran has not been preserved perfectly. This event caused many Western leftists, who had been generally in favor of the revolution against the Shah, to reconsider their support of Khomeini.

After eleven days in a hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, Khomeini died. It is said that a crowd of more than a million Iranians gathered around the burial location which was not supposed to be revealed at the time. Khomeini is considered by some as one of the most influential men (for good or bad) of the 20th century, and was name Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1980.

Table of contents
1 Quotes concerning Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic revolution
2 Quotes from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
3 External Links

Quotes concerning Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic revolution

Quotes from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

External Links

Some books by and on Ayatollah Khomeini [in pdf]: