Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was a religious scholar who transformed Iran with his combination of political and religious views. After returning from exile, Khomeini became head of a government that he claimed was of God. Iranians still revere Khomeini as a great leader and pay homage to his grave on the anniversary of his death.
1. Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (1902-1989) was the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He took office in 1979 and was the only leader in the Muslim world who combined political and religious as the supreme leader.
2. Khomeini spent the first part of his childhood training, teaching and writing in the field of Islamic studies. At the age of six, he began to study the Koran. His older brother taught him Islamic jurisprudence. His writings throughout his secular and religious lessons revealed that he firmly believed in the need for clerics to be politically active.
3. Khomeini was the first Iranian cleric to try to refute secularism in the 1940s. He did this in his book, Kashf-e Assrar (Discovery of Secrets). The book was written to dispute points made in a book by a disciple of Iran’s leading anti-clerical historian at the time.
4. Because Khomeini believed that the government was an un-Islamic and illegitimate institution, he launched his crusade against the shah’s regime in 1962. This crusade lead to rebellion and made for a turning point in the history of the Islamic movement in Iran.
5. “The White Revolution” was the name given to Muhammad (Mohammad) Reza Shah’s political movement. Khomeini denounced this legislation for the reason that it conflicted with Islamic values.
6. The rise of the Shah lead to the exile of Khomeini in 1964 after he was arrested first in the June riots of 1963 and for a second time after an anti-American movement in 1964. He was exiled to Iraq and then to France until 1979.
7. Khomeini returned to Iran from exile on February 1, 1979. Ten days later revolutionary forces allied to Khomeini, who seized power in Iran. Khomeini then became the founder and the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During his reign, Khomeini was focused on “engineering an ideal Islamic society in Iran.” Three periods of revolution transpired during the time of Khomeini’s appointment.
8. Foreign policy was the topic of the second of the two Khomeini revolutions. U.S. and Iran relations were destroyed following a confession by one in Khomeini’s group that Khomeini’s instruction to Iranian students was to “expand with all their might their attacks against the United States.” As a result, the American embassy was seized on Nov. 4, 1979 and there were 444 days of dispute between the United States and Iran before the hostages were finally released.
9. Khomeini was consumed by his desire to create the ideal Islamic Republic of Iran. He dismissed any leaders who threatened to take his power or this dream away from him. It was on April 1, 1979, that Khomeini felt that the ideal Islamic Republic of Iran had finally been formed and he is quoted as calling this day, “the first day of the Government of God.”
10. In 1988, Khomeini and Iran accepted the United Nation’s call for a cease-fire with Iraq. Before Khomeini died of cancer in 1989 he designated President Ali Khamenei to succeed him.