Biography of Ayatollah Khomeini

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Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini Biography

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was a prominent clergy of Islam, and a religious leader who led the famous Iranian Revolution in 1979 and overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Emperor of kingdom of Iran and established a theocratic government in the country. Khomeini was the only leader in the Muslim world who rebutted the much advocated secularism in the country and combined political and religious authority as a head of state.

While in power, Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a strictly Islamic government in the country completely based upon the Islamic beliefs and gained praise among several radicals as a guardian and protector of the Islam. Known for his radical views against Western Countries, Khomeini perceived himself above all as an avenger of the humiliations that the Western countries had for more than a century inflicted on the Muslims of the world, the Middle East, in particular.

Ayatollah Khomeini Childhood

Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was born on September 24, 1902, the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Fatima, in Khomein, Iran. Khomein is about 200 miles south of Tehran, Iran’s capital city. Khomeini is called a Sayyid as his family traces its descent from the seventh of the Twelve Imams, Musa al – Kazim. His ancestors, towards the end of the eighteenth century, had migrated from their original home in Khorasan province of Iran to Lucknow, India.
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Ruhollah’s father, a chief cleric in the town was murdered when he was only six months old. Ruhollah was raised by his mother and aunt. They both passed away when he was 15. Ayatollah Khomeini was then taken care of by his elder brother, Seyed Mourteza ( later to be known as Ayatollah Pasandideh ). From him, Ruhollah memorized the Quran ( holy book of Islam ) and also learned the basics of Shia Islam.

Ayatollah Khomeini Education

In 1920, Khomeini traveled to Arak to study Islamic law and jurisprudence. Ayatollah Khomeini had also acquired an interest in poetry and philosophy. In 1923, Khomeini, following the steps of Ayatollah Abdul Karim Haeri – ye Yazd arrived in Qom and devoted himself to the study of theology.

Ayatollah Khomeini was so excellent in learning things that soon he became a leading scholar of Shia Islam. As a scholar and teacher, Khomeini produced numerous writings on Islamic philosophy, law, and ethics. Ayatollah Khomeini was given the title “ayatollah”, meaning “gift of God”.

The term is often used for a leading Shia scholar. Ayatollah Khomeini had large and devoted followers, including Hashemi – Rafsanjani, Khamenei, Montazeri, and Motahari, who later formed the Islamic revolutionary movement under his leadership.

Revolution against Monarchy

During, 1920, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Emperor of Iran started following the model of Kemal Ataturk, working to secularize the Iranian society by curtailing the powers of religious leaders and fundamentalists. The Western governments often extended their support to Iran monarch Reza Shah Pahlavi and his leaders to promote modern policies by violating the existing Islamic traditions.

Reza Shah Pahlavi, with the support of Russian government overthrew Iran’s first constitutional government in 1921. Like many Iranians, the interference of foreign actors in Iran also infuriated Khomeini.

In 1941, Reza Shah Pahlavi was succeeded by his son Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Ayatollah Khomeini continued the task of promoting secularism and modern ideas. In the early 1960s, Shah proclaimed a “White Revolution” and introduced many Western ideas, such as equal rights for women and secular education for all.

The proclamation of White Revolution raised the anger and disappointment among the religious leaders. In 1962, Khomeini launched a campaign against the Shah’s regime for conflicting with Islamic values. This led to the eruption of a religious and political rebellion on June 5, 1963 followed by Khomeini’s exile in 1964.

Khomeini used his period of exile to transform Shi’i Islam into an activist political movement. Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as a charismatic leader, who devised a revolutionary system to launch a revolution. The first objective of the movement was to overthrow the Shah. In 1977, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

The members of revolutionary movement came out in huge numbers raising slogans against the Shah. The movement compelled the King to denounce and leave Iran, forever.

Khomeini’s Return

On February 1, 1979, Khomeini returned triumphantly to Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini was welcomed by a huge and delighted crowd of over six million people. Meanwhile, on January 3, 1979, a provisional government was established in Iran. The government was led by Shopour Bhaktiyar.

Khomeini adamantly opposed the interim government and forced Bakhtiar to step down. On February 11, 1979, Khomeini appointed his own Prime Minister, Mehdi Bazargan. Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed, “It was God’s government and disobedience against it would be equivalent to revolt against God”.

In fact, Ayatollah Khomeini, following his return, established a theocratic rule over Iran. In terms of ruthlessness, Khomeini was no less determined and violent than the Shah had been. Ayatollah Khomeini did not fulfill his pre – revolution promises to the people of Iran but instead he started to marginalize and crash the opposition groups and those who opposed the clerical rules.

Government bureaucracies were run almost entirely by religious students and clerics who could be counted on to strictly follow religious rules and values. Both the military and the police services were purged of possible dissenters and rebuilt upon more narrow, sectarian lines. Newly established Islamic Judiciary system sentenced many Iranians to death and long – term imprisonment as they were in opposition to those radical changes.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s Last Days

On January 23, 1980 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was admitted to a hospital in Tehran to receive heart treatment. From there, Ayatollah Khomeini was shifted to a closely guarded compound in Jamaran. Though the condition of his health deteriorated his fundamental attitude and the ability to attack the Western powers did not subside. On June 3, 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, after eleven days in hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, lapsed into a critical condition and died.
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Ayatollah Khomeini Timeline

  • September 24 1902 : Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was born.
  • March 1903 : His father was murdered.
  • 1918 : His mother and aunt passed away.
  • 1920 – 1921 : Khomeini moved to Arak for further religious education.
  • 1921 : Reza Shah Pahlavi overthrow Iran’s first constitutional government.
  • 1923 : Khomeini arrived in Qom, a city in Iran.
  • 1941 : Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi succeeded to the throne.
  • 1960 : White Revolution launched to promote western culture.
  • 1962 : Ayatollah Khomeini launched a campaign against Emperor Shah.
  • June 5, 1963 : Political rebellion in Iran.
  • 1964 : Khomeini’s exile.
  • 1977 : Ayatollah Khomeini issued fatwa against Muhammad Shah.
  • February 1, 1979 : Khomeini returned to Iran.
  • On January 3, 1979 : Provisional government formed, Ayatollah refused to accept.
  • February 11, 1979 : Khomeini formed own government.
  • January 23, 1980 : Khomeini admitted to hospital.
  • June 4, 1989 : Khomeini passed away.

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