Ruhallah Al-Musavi Al-Khomenei
(1900/02?-1989)

Born in Khomeyn, Iran. He studied theology in Arak and later in the holy city of Qom, where he took up permanent residence and began to build a political base to oppose the royal family of Iran, notably Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (qv). His first major test - and his first real taste of power - came in 1962 when the Shah's govenment put through a bill devoling some power to provincial and city councils. what a number of Iran's religious zealots objected to was that newly elected representatives were not obliged to swear on the Qu'ran but on any holy scriopture they chose. Khomeini seized on this anger and organized country-wide strikes which led to the eventual rescinding of the bill.

Khomeini used this strengthened position to deliver a sermon from the Faiziyveh School accusing the state of being in collusion with Israel and attempting to "discredit the Qu'ran." His inevitable arrest the follwing day by the Shah's secret police, the SAVAK, provoked massive unrest and the usual violent reaction by troops resulting in many thousands of deaths.

Khomeini continued to be a nuisance for the next year so on the first anniverasary of the unrest the Shah's troops moved into the city of Qom, detaining the Imam before sending him into exile in Turkey. He stayed there for a short while before moving to Iraq where he continued to agitate for the downfall of the Iranian regime. In 1978 the Shah's govenment persuaded the Iraqi to expel him fom Najaf, thus he left for Paris all the while his profile rising almost as a direct reflection of the Shah's falling. The latter's ridiculous celebrations as Persepolis began to grate with the people and following a series of disturbances the Shah left the country in February 1979, leaving the way clear for the returning heroic figure of Khomeini and his 'Dawn of the Islamic Revolution.' Greeted by hundreds of thousands of his countrymen at the airport and further thousands lining the route back to Tehran the Ayatollah rightly saw Iran as his, and this came to pass when the govenment left behind by the Shah imploded eleven days after the Ayatollah's return. Tehran became seat of power, away from his heartland of Qom but a neccessity due to the invasion of the country in September 1980 by Iraq. The war lasted a full eight years destroying the lives of millions on both sides of the conflict with no lasting gain to either combatant. That said at least those young boys who died on the Iranian side did so with the knowledge they would enter the kingdom of heaven thanks to the (plastic; painted gold) key around their necks courtesy of the Ayatollah. Khomeini died in Tehran on June 3, 1989.

Length of Rule - Ten years

Related Links

Khomeini.com

Khomeini Speeches

1979 Time Man of the Year

Books

Ayatollah & I

Hadi Khorsandi

The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie

Khomeini : Life of the Ayatollah

Baqer Moin

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