Ruhollah Khomeini

gigatos | June 28, 2022


Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini (Persian روحالله موسوی خمینی, DMG Rūḥollāh Mūsawī Ḫomeinī , also known as Ayatollah Khomeini, * 1902 in Chomein; † 3 June 1989 in Tehran.  June 1989 in Tehran) was an Iranian ayatollah, political and religious leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and subsequently Iranian head of state until his death. With the revolution, he overthrew the government of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, then Shah of Iran, from his exile in France. Khomeini is considered the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ruhollah Khomeini was born Ruhollah Musavi (روحالله موسوی ) in the village of Khomein in 1902. Khomeini”s exact date of birth is disputed. There are sources that state he was:

His mausoleum in the south of Tehran has four minarets, each 91 m high. The height of 91 m was chosen according to Khomeini”s alleged age at his death in 1989, calculated in lunar years.


The origin of the great-grandfather is highly doubtful. One version assumes that a Hindu named Jajal was employed as a porter and security guard at the Bombay branch of the British-run Bank-e Shahi, which later became the Imperial Bank of Persia. Since the bank dealt mainly with Muslim businessmen, the bank”s management suggested that Jajal become a Muslim, which he complied with. From then on, he went by the name Hamed. After Hamed”s death, his son Ahmad, Khomeini”s grandfather, took over the post at Bank-e Shahi. From Bombay, he was transferred to the Bushehr branch and later to Najaf. In Najaf, Ahmad (Hindi) left the Imperial Bank and became the bodyguard of Mirza Mohammad Hasan Shirazi. In 1839, Ahmad Musavi Hindi acquired land in Khomein and soon belonged to the class of wealthy landowners.

Seyyed Ahmad Musavi (1800-1869) was Ruhollah Khomeini”s grandfather. As Seyyed and thus a direct descendant of the Prophet, the family name was traced back to the 7th Imam. There are two different versions about the origin of the grandfather:

Seyyed Mustafa Musavi (1856

Mustafa Musavi died when Ruhollah was just 5 months old. There are three versions of this:


Ruhollah, who was brought up by his aunt Sahebe after the death of his father, is said to have finished school at the age of 15 and to have been taught Islamic studies by his eldest brother Morteza.

In 1918, Khomeini went to Arak to receive training as a jurist. In 1922, he moved to Ghom, where the Islamic law school under Abdolkarim Haeri Yazdi was being established. In 1936, he received the qualification of a mujtahid there and the religious title of hodshatoleslam. In 1943, he published his work: Kašf al-asrār (Revealing the Secrets), which immediately takes up the abolition of the monarchy.

Khomeini was not alone in these theses. In 1946, Navvab Safavi founded the Fedajin-e Islam (those who sacrifice themselves for Islam) organization in Tehran, consisting of theology students and members of the lower class. The demands of Fedajin-e Islam, an anticipation of Khomeini”s 1970 Hokumat-e eslami, were:establishment of an Islamic government led by an imam, application of Sharia law, purification of the Persian language of un-Islamic vocabulary, pan-Islamism and nationalism, nationalization of oil, jihad against Western powers, spread of the ideology of martyrdom. The Fedajin-e Islam organized demonstrations and attracted attention through various assassinations of writers, scientists, and government officials in 1946-1951.

First public appearance

Until 1963, Khomeini taught Islamic law in Ghom. In the same year, he called for resistance to the Shah”s White Revolution (including land reform and women”s suffrage). With the death of the grand ayatollah and the Marjahʿ-e Taghlid Hossein Borujerdi, who was recognized by all clerics and who had held the view that the clergy should stay out of active politics, the quietist group”s influence among the clergy was reduced. On March 22, 1963, on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of the 6th Imam, Jahʿfar as-Sādiq, Khomeini preached in Ghom:

Khomeini was initially arrested, but then released.

After the speech of June 3, 1963, Ashura Day, held against the tyrant of our time-everyone knew that this meant the Shah-Khomeini was arrested again on June 5, 1963. Gehrke speaks of a deliberate, “playing in-the foreground in the political sense, without having the acclamation of the other leading clerics.” By his deliberately chosen confrontation against the Shah, which he could not win at the time, he at least drew the moderate clerics to his side by forcing them to take sides with him. Khomeini”s call of June 3, 1963, was directed primarily against the land reform begun by the shah as part of the White Revolution, against the abolition of the female marriage age of 9, and against active and passive women”s suffrage. The clerics” attitude toward land reform was divided: from approval (Hussein Shariatmadari, Mahmud Taleghani) to strict rejection. With his criticism, Khomeini was the mouthpiece of the affected large landowners, who then began to oppose the shah. In addition to aristocratic landowners, numerous religious foundations and some clerics themselves were affected by the land reform. Religious foundations and clerics were among the largest landowners and were supposed to transfer this land, which they had previously leased to peasants, to these peasants in exchange for compensation. Khomeini”s call and arrest led to violent demonstrations.

Immediately after the riots, a trial was to be opened against Khomeini that would result in a death sentence. Ayatollahs Kasem Shariatmadari and Hadi Milani gathered at Tehran”s Abd-al-Azim Mosque and proclaimed Khomeini “Imam” (Ayatollah), an action intended to save him from the death sentence, since the title “Ayatollah” carried with it a kind of unwritten immunity.Also, the head of SAVAK, Hassan Pakravan, is said to have interceded on Khomeini”s behalf. Hassan Pakravan and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Mansur told the shah that the clergy should be given more time to acclimate to the White Revolution reforms and that it would be better to release Khomeini from prison rather than use execution to make a martyr of the condemned man. While in prison, Khomeini reportedly made Hassan Pakravan promise to stay out of politics in the future. Yet Khomeini had merely said:

This statement left enough room for interpretation. That Khomeini had no intention of staying out of politics would soon become apparent.

Khomeini was under house arrest until April 7, 1964, and, according to officials, had reached an agreement with authorities to stop “endangering the interests and security of the country.”

After Khomeini”s October 28, 1964 speech against the application of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to U.S. military advisors, another incendiary speech, the Shah”s patience ended. Khomeini warned the army, the deputies, the merchants, and the clergy that this government was dreaming of destroying Iran. He called on the leaders of all Islamic countries to rush to the aid of the Muslims of Iran.

On November 4, 1964, Khomeini was arrested and flown into exile on a military plane to Turkey (Bursa).

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Mansur was shot dead by a member of Fedajin-e Islam on January 22, 1965. Hassan Pakravan was among the first to be arrested and executed after Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979.

At his place of residence in Bursa, Turkey, Khomeini was prohibited from any activity as a cleric. He was also not allowed to wear the clothes of an Ayatollah. Khomeini then addressed a personal letter to the Shah, asking him to allow him to continue his teaching activities in Najaf. In October 1965, Khomeini was allowed to move to Iraq, where he settled first in Baghdad, then in Najaf, a holy place for Shiites. Khomeini was able to move there relatively freely and resume his studies and teaching.

Lectures on the “Islamic State

In Najaf between January and February 1970, Khomeini gave lectures on the political meaning of Islam. The lecture transcripts from students and interviews resulted in a collection of texts that, although not edited by Khomeini, appeared as a book under the title The Islamic State (1970). Khomeini considered it the duty of the clergy to take an active role in political action. He compared the struggle against the existing political system in Iran to the struggle of Imam Hossein. Therefore, he urged the clergy of Ghom, Mashhad and Najaf to develop a contemporary form of the tragedy of Imam Hossein”s death. The students of the religious schools should activate the masses in the struggle against the monarchy in Iran. Khomeini was convinced that this time the Shia would emerge victorious.

The most determined opponent of Khomeini from the ranks of the Shiite clergy was Grand Ayatollah Kasem Shariatmadari, who denied the political model of a government of the clergy (ولایت فقیه velayat-e faghih) advocated by Khomeini any basis in Shiite theology.

Khomeini”s views regarding the establishment of an Islamic state to be run solely on religious principles are not new-he explicitly invoked Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri, who had propagated such ideas 70 years earlier. In fact, Khomeini negated the quietist attitude of the Shiite clergy for centuries with Hokumat-e eslami. Until his return from exile, as Mohsen Kadivar has noted, Khomeini was in favor of a council of jurists with general authority, after which he was only in favor of the authority of the one jurist (Marjahʿ-e Taghlid).

The three central sections from Hokumat-e eslami (The Islamic State) are:

This statement interprets the concept of law in the context of the religious tradition of Islam. Laws of the Islamic state are not legal norms enacted by a legislator, but correspond to the direct will of God.

The legal-political basis of the Islamic state is not based on the sovereignty of the people as the constitution-making power, but on God. All power in an Islamic state therefore emanates not from the people but from God or, by proxy, from the legal scholars.

In January 1988, commenting on the superiority of the state over religion, Khomeini said.

Accordingly, deficiencies in the present day of everyday political life are not evidence that the Islamic state cannot fulfill the ideas and expectations of the population, but merely evidence that the realization of the Islamic state is not yet complete.

Khomeini defines Islam within the framework of a liberation theological interpretation as “the religion of militant individuals committed to truth and justice. Islam is the religion of those who strive for freedom and independence.” He characterized the Islam of Iran”s constitutional monarchy as a misinterpretation created by the influence of Western agents and Orientalists. Thus, during the time of the kajars, Islam had been misinterpreted; Islamic laws had been misapplied. British agents took advantage of the resulting social problems and led the Iranians on the wrong path of constitutionalism within the framework of a constitutional revolution. Moreover, Islam declares any form of monarchy or monarchical succession to be wrong and illegal. This is already clear from Mohammad”s letters to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and the Persian shah Khosrow Parvis. And the fact that the Islamic legal system is far superior to the constitutional legal system imported from the West can be proven by the fact that a case that used to be settled by a sharia judge in two days now takes twenty or more years.


Taqiyya, the concealment of ritual duties, was originally intended to protect Shiites from Sunni persecution. For Khomeini, this was a permissible means of self-preservation, but he categorically ruled it out in cases of destruction of holy sites, apostasy, and all acts that corrupt the faith. Khomeini recommended this method to the group of people who “are presently joining the ranks of a despotic regime in order to infiltrate it and bring it down.” The clergy and their students, on the other hand, should openly oppose the existing system as much as possible. Moreover, for Khomeini, taqiyya becomes an act that must serve Islam.

Taqiyya was interpreted offensively in terms of jihad by Khomeini, in contrast to the usual, purely defensive Shiite precaution, as was the April 1963 instruction to his theology students to be conscripted:

Even in his French exile, Khomeini used the form of taqiyya, not lying but omitting essential passages. His interviews given to the Western press show none of his later ideas:

The events of 1978

The decline of the shah”s power and the rise of Khomeini in 1978 can be traced to four events:

On January 7, 1978, an article appeared in the Iranian newspaper Ettelā”āt under the title Iran and Black and Red Colonialism. “For years, the regime”s propaganda apparatus had left no stone unturned in denying the very existence of Khomeini,” and now Khomeini was vilified as a “communist conspirator.” This article, published under the pseudonym Ahmad Raschidi-ye Motlagh, is considered the initial spark of the Islamic Revolution. The author of the article is believed to be the then Minister of Information, Darius Homayun, in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jamshid Amuzegar. A January 9 student sympathy rally in Ghom was violently dispersed by state forces. Four demonstrators died from their injuries. Rumors circulated that at least 100 demonstrators had died. Later, there was even talk of 300 dead demonstrators. The protest rallies, which were now held nationwide at 40-day intervals, increased both in terms of the number of participants and in terms of the number of people injured and killed by the end of 1978.

On January 12, 1978, Khomeini called for the overthrow of the Shah for the first time:

On the 25th anniversary of the fall of Mossadegh, August 19, 1978, 25 cinemas, including one in Abadan, were set on fire. The arson attack on Cinema Rex in Abadan killed 477 moviegoers. Supporters of Khomeini blamed the SAVAK intelligence service as the perpetrator of the fire. Sheikh Ali Tehrani revealed those behind the attack 16 years after the arson. After Khomeini issued a fatwa against colonial programs and Western cinema, “four teachers from the Ghom madrassa had jointly devised a plan to set fires in movie theaters. One of the four was Sheikh Hossein Ali Montazeri.” According to current knowledge, a relative of the current supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei was allegedly responsible for the specific planning and execution of the arson attack on Cinema Rex.

On September 5, 1978, demonstrations took place throughout the country to mark the month of Ramadan. Two days later, opponents of the shah-an alliance of clergy and the National Front-called a general strike, which was followed by 100,000 to 200,000 people in Tehran alone, depending on the source. Martial law was imposed on Tehran and ten other cities on the night of September 8. 200 Chieftain tanks and 100,000 soldiers, well over a quarter of the entire army, were ordered by General Oveisi to assemble in Tehran. Friday, September 8, 1978 was to go down in Iran”s history as Black Friday. Rumor spread that the military had fired indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed demonstrators. There was talk of 106, 2,000 to 15,000 dead in each case. On September 9, 1978, Khomeini called on the Iranian army to revolt against the Shah”s regime, but the army remained largely loyal to the Shah. Khomeini”s call for a general strike on September 13, 1978, on the other hand, was heeded by large parts of the population.

Khomeini, who had been under house arrest in Najaf since 1978 at the Shah”s insistence, was expelled from the country by Saddam Hussein on October 6, 1978. Khomeini”s departure for Kuwait, however, was denied by the authorities there. The French government (Barre III cabinet) finally agreed to admit Khomeini. He had no other choice, although at first “he didn”t think for a second about going abroad, to Paris.”

In Neauphle-le-Château, his place of residence in France, Khomeini succeeded in attracting the attention of the international press and in forcing the dissemination of his speeches to Iran by means of tape recordings. Book author Amir Taheri lists 132 radio, television, and press interviews in the few months of Khomeini”s stay in France.Beheshti played a crucial role in the dissemination to Iran.The image of the “saintly old man under the apple tree” that painted a glorifying picture of Khomeini in the Western press, and Khomeini”s statement

nourished the notion among Western publics that Khomeini was the Gandhi of Iran, who wanted to lead his country peacefully to freedom. During the Guadeloupe Conference held from January 4 to 7, 1979, French President Valéry Giscard d”Estaing, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, British Prime Minister James Callaghan, and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt decided to stop supporting the Shah and allow Khomeini to return to Iran.

The Revolution and the Establishment of the Islamic Republic

After the Shah left the country on January 16, 1979, Khomeini announced his imminent return. Hectic activity was already unfolding in Neauphle-le-Château. The most diverse factions and leaders of the National Front, the Tudeh Party with its large number of members, and even U.S. politicians visited Neauphle-le-Château. The goal was common to all: the overthrow of the Shah.

Khomeini, who never recognized any government, however legitimized by the shah, formed a coalition in Paris between mullahs, bourgeois and leftists who worked together to overthrow the shah. Mehdi Bāzargān, approved by Khomeini as interim prime minister, was to form the First Phase, as Riyahi writes. The “incorruptible,” recognized by all factions, was to assure the neutrality of the army, which it then declared on February 11, 1979. At the same time, Bazargan was to be the guarantor and reassurance of the bourgeois, democrats, and leftists against an absolute takeover of power by the clerics, since Bazargan favored a religious but democratic republic.

The government of Shapur Bakhtiar, the last prime minister appointed by the Shah, first had Tehran airport closed on January 25, 1979, and then reopened on January 30. This allowed for Khomeini”s return. On February 1, about 150 journalists from the world press, along with 50 close followers, accompanied the Ayatollah on his flight from Paris to Tehran. The departure at 01:15 a.m. on the Air France Boeing 747 was preceded by a tug-of-war behind the scenes. Khomeini himself told journalists to prepare for the worst. Zbigniew Brzeziński spoke of a hijacking plot of the plane, an organization from London had announced the shooting down of the plane, shah loyal air force pilots flew mock attacks days before. “At an altitude of 12,000 meters, the pious old man flies back to the Middle Ages almost as fast as sound,” a German newspaper headlined Khomeini”s return flight. On the flight, Khomeini was asked by a reporter accompanying him how he felt about returning to Iran after such a long period of exile; his answer was, “Nothing.”

On February 1, 1979, at 9:39 a.m. local time, Khomeini set foot on Iranian soil for the first time in more than 14 years. The reception at Mehrabad airport by clerics, politicians and journalists was segregated from the crowds, and the landing itself was broadcast live on television. The first route took Khomeini from the airport to Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, Tehran”s central cemetery. The way there was blocked by a crowd of millions who blocked the roads. Khomeini then boarded a helicopter provided by the army and flew to the cemetery. In his first speech after returning, he turned against the shah:

and against the social-democratic prime minister Shapur Bakhtiar, whom he described as “illegal.” Khomeini appealed to the army, some of which was still loyal to the Shah:

On February 11, 1979 (22 Bahman 1357), Prime Minister Shapur Bakhtiar fled after the military declared his neutrality. The “counter-government” of Mehdi Bāzargān, appointed by Khomeini on February 5, 1979, took over the affairs of state. Two days later, the first wave of arrests began, involving the shah”s leading military officers and politicians. Two weeks later, the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) was formed to enforce Khomeini”s state doctrine of “Velayat-e Faqih” against the designs of other opposition groups. By means of the all-powerful Revolutionary Council, then the predetermined composition of the Assembly of Experts, the multi-pronged Khomeini succeeded in usurping all power within a year. After the referendum of March 30, 1979, the “Islamic Republic of Iran” was proclaimed by Khomeini on April 1, 1979, and its constitution was adopted in another referendum on December 3, 1979. Khomeini was enshrined in the constitution as revolutionary leader, supreme jurist and deputy of the 12th Imam for life.

November 4, 1979, saw the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical students and the beginning of more than a year of hostage-taking in Tehran, for which Khomeini had earlier issued an indirect call in a statement.

On December 7, 1979, Khomeini sanctioned the hostage-taking, saying:

Khomeini described the failed liberation operation Operation Eagle Claw as a

Khomeini had chased the most powerful king of kings out of the country, brought the strongest army in the Middle East to its knees, Nirumand said, and now the failure of the liberation campaign.

According to Riyahi, the hostage-taking marked the beginning of the second phase of the stage to establish a theocratic state and add new forces to the flagging momentum of the revolution by building an external enemy. The replacement of Mehdi Bāzargān, appointed by Khomeini as interim prime minister, by Abu l-Hasan Banisadr, who claimed to be able to usurp the Islamic revolution as a “second Mossadegh” – without having the base of a political party. Banisadr declared on February 26, 1980: “There has been a purely Islamic revolution in Iran. Iran”s destiny cannot be controlled by a system rejected by Imam Khomeini.” Banisadr, the first prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran elected on Jan. 25, 1980, was ousted by parliament on June 22, 1981, on Khomeini”s orders after criticizing the closure of six other journals. Bani-Sadr”s ouster was passed by 177 votes to one, with eleven abstentions, by Parliament on June 21, 1981.

Riyahi understands the third phase as the takeover of all government power by clerics, which began at the latest after Banisadr”s fall. This was accompanied by the founding or expansion of the powers of the paramilitary associations that emerged from Iran”s Hezbollah, such as the Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) and the Basich. In the course of the internal Iranian power struggle, dissenting companions from Khomeini”s French exile period were now executed or forced to flee, in addition to the leftist and monarchist opposition groups. The wave of purges reached its peak in 1981 after the People”s Mujahideen carried out a series of bombings against IRP offices, killing numerous senior government officials. In the end, even religious-liberal forces that had previously formed an alliance with the IRP were severely restricted or persecuted.

One of the consequences of the revolutionary upheavals was that millions of Iranians left the country within a very short time. By the end of 1982, 2.5 million Iranians had gone into exile, including at least 200,000 intellectuals. Many immigrated to the United States (1.5 million), Germany (110,000), Great Britain (80,000), Canada (75,000), France (62,000), and Australia (60,000).

The consolidation of power

The Revolutionary Council, on Khomeini”s instructions, decided on June 4, 1980, to close all universities in the country and begin a cultural revolution. Khomeini was confident of the support of the students and faculty, saying:

not sure. The background was the disruption of Alī Akbar Hāschemī Rafsanjānī”s speech in April 1980 at the medical faculty. The words

of December 17, 1980, summed up Khomeini”s concern. On January 23, 1982, Khomeini pleaded for the reopening of the universities after a full-scale Islamization of the faculty and students, which was not completed until the fall of 1984 and led to the partial reopening.

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On April 8, 1980, Khomeini declared:

The further address to the Iraqi people:

is a declaration of war against Saddam Hussein. The very next day, there was an artillery duel near Qasr-e Shirin in which 15 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were wounded. The pre-war had begun. On April 30, 1980, the Iranian Embassy in London was occupied by Iraqi-backed terrorists. The event became known as the Iranian Embassy Siege, which was ended by the intervention of the British SAS on May 5, 1980.

Start of hostilities

On September 4, 1980, Iranian forces attacked the Iraqi towns of Mandali and Khanaqin; Iraqi forces responded by occupying an area near Musian on the Shatt al-Arab on September 10, 1980. This 120-square-kilometer area had been awarded to Iraq in the Algiers Agreement but had not been handed over. On September 17, 1980, Saddam Hussein denounced the Algiers Agreement and claimed full sovereignty over the Shatt al-Arab. On September 22, 1980, at 2:00 p.m. local time, the war began with massive Iraqi air strikes on Iranian airports in the cities of Tehran, Tabriz, Kermānschāh, Ahvaz, Hamadan, and Dezful. At the same time, the Iraqi Army advanced across the Iranian border at three points with a total of 100,000 troops. Khomeini, after Banisadr delivered the news, reportedly lost his temper for the first time. “His hands were trembling I had never seen the Imam so frightened.”

In the first year of the First Gulf War (1980-1988), Khomeini refused to accept the UN-proposed cease-fire; a year after that, he ignored the unilateral cease-fire announced by Saddam Hussein. After pushing the Iraqis back from Iranian territory, in mid-1982, the war objective became the overthrow of Iraq”s despotic regimes. The conquest and liberation of Iraq was to be only the beginning for the liberation of Jerusalem. Khomeini, who as early as February 11, 1980, called for the expansion of the revolution to the entire world and explicitly asked revolutionaries to

, also thus forced the continuation of the war for another six years. For him, the war was a

He called each participant in the war a martyr who, if killed, would go directly to paradise. With the address to the nation, the recruitment starts.

Khomeini was referring to 14-year-old Hossein Fahmideh, who, armed with an explosive belt, blew up an Iraqi tank near Khorramshahr in 1980.

The “human wave” combat tactic, using barely trained or untrained civilians as vanguards for the paramilitary Pasdaran, known as Basiji, first appeared on the front line near Mandali on September 30, 1982. In a single action, at least 4,000 Iranians died, against 300 of the defending Iraqis.By the end of 1983, the war had cost both sides at least 350,000 dead, 300,000 wounded, and 90,000 captured. Front-line commanders who made personal representations to Khomeini in Ghom, raising the military situation and the futility of using poorly trained volunteers, countered Khomeini:

On August 9, 1983, Iraq also used chemical warfare agents for the first time in a frontline operation. In February 1985, in the war”s heaviest casualty offensive on Basra, nearly 50,000 Iranians died. For ideological armament, Khomeini also enlisted the aid of the Koran:


The replacement of Seyyed Ali Khamene”i and the appointment of Akbar Hāschemi Rafsanjāni as commander-in-chief of the armed forces on June 2, 1988, brought about the turning point. Because of the Iranian people”s war-weariness and the hopelessness of winning the war against Iraq and Western interests, Khomeini finally agreed to recognize UN Resolution 598 of a cease-fire on July 18, 1988.

In the war, which was brutally fought for almost eight years from September 22, 1980, to August 20, 1988, with high civilian casualties, at least 500,000 people were killed on the Iranian side alone. The material damage of the war on the Iranian side is estimated at $644 billion.

It seems that after coming to power, Khomeini and his followers committed comparable crimes to those they had charged the Shah with. Monarchists, leftists, liberals, homosexuals, Baha”i, and Freemasons suffered the most severe repression. An estimated 8,000 Iranians were executed for “political offenses” from 1981 to 1985. A total of 12,000 Iranians are believed to have been executed under Khomeini. The number of prison cells doubled under Khomeini. And torture practices that had been banned under the Shah were reintroduced. In July 1988, 3,000 Iranians were executed in one week alone.

Persecution of non-Muslims

According to Islamic doctrine, Khomeini distinguished between Muslims, protectors (dhimmi), infidels and Harbī. The Harbi concept envisages the killing of non-Muslims who are not subjugated. Khomeini stated in a speech on jihad on December 12, 1984:

Particularly affected were the Bahai, who were systematically persecuted and are still persecuted in Iran today. In 1979, the Bab”s house in Shiraz was destroyed, in 1980-1981 the Bahai spiritual leadership was executed, and by 1985 the entire Bahai elite had been eliminated in 210 executions. The Bahai estimate 202 executed and 15 missing. After Khomeini labeled the Bahai “spies” on May 28, 1983, the Bahai religion was officially banned on September 15, 1983. Presumably, at least 10,000 devout Bahais fled into exile.

Persecution of opponents of the regime

According to press reports, days later a mother reported her son to the prosecutor. Khomeini is said to have received this woman with the words: “what you have accomplished is exemplary, all shall follow you”.

Persecution abroad

Opponents of the regime who fled were not safe from persecution and execution, even abroad. More than 120 are said to have been executed by contract killings; the best-known assassinations were:

Mass execution of political prisoners

Shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, mass executions of political prisoners occurred. Casualty figures range from 1,367, to a speculated 10,000, political prisoners in Iran. In 2008, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NWRI) published the figure of 33,700 prisoners executed.The majority of them were supporters of the People”s Modjahedin and various leftist groups. The executions sanctioned by Khomeini beginning in July 1988 are considered the largest wave of executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Blood “donation” from convicts

“The shortage of blood and the impossibility of immediate procurement of the same usually leads to the death of the injured,” said the letter of the Chief Prosecutor of the Islamic Republic of Iran, dated October 2, 1981. For this reason, the letter continued, “in order to solve this problem, it should be secretly ordered that blood be taken from the persons sentenced to death, before execution.” Khomeini, the chief prosecutor said, was asked for advice. “He announced that this measure was perfectly compatible with religious laws.”

Pahlavi monarchy

His dislike of the Pahlavi monarchy goes back to Reza Shah Pahlavi:

This referred to the reforms introduced under Reza Shah Pahlavi, such as Western clothing for men, the prohibition of the veil for women, and the abolition of the sharia court, which had to rule only in cases of marital status and was not independent here either. Khomeini probably wisely did not publish his Kašf al-asrār until 1943, after Reza Shah”s abdication. Khomeini met Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in person once (1944) to twice in the 1940s, depending on the author. In 1944, during a visit to the shah in Ghom, he is said to have received the ruler sitting and not standing, contrary to etiquette.

United States

The United States was considered by Khomeini to be a “great Satan, concocting diabolical plans leading to foreign domination.”

In his memoirs, Rafsanjani claimed that Revolutionary Leader Khomeini agreed in the 1980s to stop using the slogan Marg bar Amrika (“Death to America”).


On August 7, 1979, the last Friday of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, Khomeini proclaimed the international al-Quds Day – al-Quds is the Koranic transliteration for Jerusalem – to express the solidarity of all Muslims with the Palestinian people and to call for the liberation of Muslims under the Zionist regime. The al-Quds Day, by now a self-perpetuating event that leads to demonstrations every year, was meant to recall the claim implied by the Koran to Jerusalem, the third holiest city of Muslims next to Mecca and Medina.

On the other hand, Khomeini confirmed the status of the Jewish religion, as the Koran provides, as a protectorate. Article 13 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran explicitly incorporated this principle; likewise, Article 64 provides for at least one deputy of Jewish faith, currently Ciamak Moresadegh, in the Iranian Parliament. This ambivalence is also expressed in the private sector. For example, on February 27, 1985, the Israeli magazine Maariw reported that a close relative of Khomeini was being treated in a Jerusalem hospital under strict secrecy. Previously, other relatives of Khomeini had reportedly been treated in Israel. After Israel”s arms deliveries to Iran, during the first Gulf War, Khomeini moderated his words.

In the period between 1948 and 1966, about 45,000 Jews had emigrated from Iran to Israel. In the 1966 census, 60,683 Jews were still counted in Iran. After a period of stabilization, the number of Jews in Iran has declined sharply since the Islamic Revolution: from about 80,000 immediately before the revolution to less than 10,000 according to the census in 2012.

Soviet Union

After Gorbachev”s election as head of state of the Soviet Union, Khomeini addressed a letter to Gorbachev on January 1, 1989, in which he asked Gorbachev:

and applied the advice

to conclude by pointing out that

Gorbachev is said to have replied to this, on February 16, 1989, as follows: “Regardless of different views on the mysteries of the world building (…) one has set oneself the task in the USSR to ensure the sovereignty of general human values over all other interests and goals.”


The relationship between Khomeini and the Communists of the Tudeh Party was characterized by a certain ambivalence; before the fall of the Shah, Khomeini was happy to accept any help. Even in the first months of the Islamic Revolution, the Tudeh Party formally offered itself to Khomeini”s ideas. Thus, the 16th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran declared in Tehran in March 1979: “The Tudeh Party of Iran supports the initiatives of His Holiness the Ayatollah Khomeini with regard to the proclamation of an Islamic republic. It will fully commit itself to its realization.” For Khomeini, communists were considered “godless.” In 1981, the Tudeh Party was deemed loyal to Moscow, and it was finally banned in 1983.


In an interview with Oriana Fallaci, when asked about Islamic dress, Khomeini replied:

The summary of Khomeini”s extensive treatises on women has the key points: holy women of Islam, status and the role of women in Islam, the Islamic revolution, the family, women”s struggle and the military, and ends with misconduct.

Paradise and hell

Khomeini also wrote a treatise on the devil in his famous 40 Hadiths.

John Paul II”s request to release the hostages

On the occasion of Pope John Paul II”s request regarding the Tehran hostage crisis that Khomeini release the hostages, the latter replied in a letter dated November 10, 1979:

The veneration of Khomeini as a person, which was accompanied by the designation “Imam” and “our holy Imam” by his followers in reference to the twelve Shiite Imams, which found its continuation in Article 1 of the Iranian constitution with his name and which he himself never contradicted, led to a personality cult that took on messianic proportions. “Khomeini you are my soul,” a saying that was heard by many Iranians, in addition to his words:

and the belief that he could perform miracles, that he possessed supernatural power, became a reality. speaks of an “eschatological hope for a messianic redemption.” He (Khomeini), he says, is the representative of the raptured 12th Imam who establishes paradise on earth, and this is possible precisely only through Islam and the Islamic revolution. Thus, according to Gholamasad, “Khomeinism – as a pariah ideology and an adequate form of conflict resolution for the marginalized – is the self-confidence and sense of self of the people who have not yet acquired or have already lost themselves again. “Khomeini”s speech, shortly after the beginning of the first Gulf War:

refers precisely to this point. Loudspeaker announcements supported this claim with the words, “the Imam has made us free.” On some propaganda posters, Khomeini is depicted as Moses with a scroll (Koran) or confronting Pharaoh (Shah) with fire-breathing dragons. This “miracle of the staff” of Moses is transferred to Khomeini, the “archetypal conflict between good and evil, justice and tyranny,” in Khomeini”s understanding only to be won through active action.

so Khomeini in his interpretation of Islam.

Shortly after the publication of Salman Rushdie”s novel The Satanic Verses in September 1988, the first copies of it appeared in Iran. The book review and excerpts were circulated shortly thereafter on Iranian radio, whose broadcasts Khomeini regularly listened to. An unknown cleric, on his own initiative, translated a 700-page version and, about a month later, presented it to Khomeini”s office. Khomeini”s comment after reading it was, “The world has always been full of lunatics talking nonsense. It”s not worth responding to something like this. Don”t take it seriously.” That seemed to settle the matter, no hint of an import ban or fatwa.

On February 12, 1989, the first unrest from Pakistan became public. On February 14, Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on all Muslims to kill the writer Salman Rushdie for what he considered blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad in Rushdie”s novel The Satanic Verses:

The fatwa was ostensibly motivated by passages in which the Qur”an and the Prophet were (allegedly) insulted. On a personal level, Khomeini”s motivation can be seen in the fact that he recognized himself in certain passages:

In addition, on the power-political level, Khomeini obviously aspired to opinion leadership within the Islamic world.

A bounty placed on Rushdie”s head increased to around DM 9.2 million within a few days. Numerous translators and editors were subsequently assassinated, including Hitoshi Igarashi (July 11, 1991), Ettore Capriolo (July 3, 1991), Aziz Nesin (July 1993), William Nygaard (October 11, 1993). In Sivas, Turkey, 37 people were killed in an arson attack. Mohammad Khatami, considered a liberal, stated on the sidelines of the 1998 UN General Assembly, “We should consider the Salman Rushdie matter completely closed.” Further, Khatami affirmed “that in practice there was no decision to take action in this matter” so that no assassins were hired by the government. The fatwa”s killing order, which according to standard Shiite doctrine loses its validity after the death of its author, was reaffirmed by Ali Khamene”i and Rafsanjani after Khomeini”s death.

Khomeini reportedly spent every night in different premises, according to Hossein Ali Montazeri, and Hussein Shariatmadari dubbed him “the prisoner of Jamkaran.” Khomeini”s residence was sealed off from the outside world and, according to Taheri, “had turned into a fortress, with electronic security system and anti-aircraft battery.” Khomeini returned to Tehran from Ghom only on January 24, 1980, after his exile and landing in Mehrabad, due to a heart condition.

Saddam Hussein is said to have promised a bounty of the equivalent of 200 million euros for the assassination of Khomeini in 1982, according to a Syrian newspaper. As early as September 1978, Iraq”s then intelligence chief, Barzan Ibrahim at-Tikriti, offered to eliminate Khomeini during a secret visit to Tehran. “The Shah expressed his gratitude but would not hear of a staged fatal accident.”

Khomeini is said to have suffered from asthma since his youth and – according to Ali Tehrani – to have claimed not to fast. He is said to have suffered a stroke in 1959 in Isfahan, which made it difficult for him to concentrate. The herniated disc he suffered in his continued old age affected his ability to kneel down for prayer, making it impossible for him to rise without assistance, Tehrani said. Diagnosed bladder and prostate difficulties led to claims that he had bladder cancer. Shortly before his death, Khomeini had to undergo intestinal surgery.

In 1931, Khomeini married Batol Khadijeh Saghafi, called Mrs. Ghodsi, the 15-year-old daughter of Agha Mirza Mohammad Saghafi, a cleric from Tehran. Saghafi (1916-2009) later became known in Iran as the “Mother of the Islamic Revolution.” From this marriage, Khomeini lived monogamously, seven children were born, two sons and three daughters survived childhood.

Khomeini”s famous grandchildren:

Khomeini never left his daughter”s house after his return to Iran, where he moved. He visited, as Kapuscinski writes, “nothing and no one. He lived ascetically, subsisting only on rice, yogurt, and fruit, and inhabited only a single room with bare walls, no furniture, only a place to sleep on the floor and a pile of books.” Sitting on a blanket, leaning his back against the wall, he received select guests. The crowds, understandably not allowed to approach him, could see him waving at the balcony.

Khomeini wrote poems in addition to his well-known tracts. Taheri cites two poems, presumably written in the 1930s and 1940s, entitled “The Almond Tree” and “Tamerlan.” The Almond Tree deals with the transience of life, for “this almond tree is a messenger of the Creator. After a thundershower, the blossoms are bent and scattered, naked stands the bride of the garden … a moment only of ingratitude leads to a terrible punishment for those who forget God.” In Tamerlan, Khomeini deals with the atrocities of the Mongol ruler Timur: “It was he who disobeyed all the commandments of the Lord, but there is one who throws the mighty into the dust, there is one who dismembers the guilty, to him Hindi the Wise is devoted and to no other.”

Khomeini died in a Tehran hospital at 10:20 p.m. local time on June 3, 1989, after a second heart attack. Eleven days earlier, he had undergone intestinal surgery. Khomeini”s last words, spoken around 1 p.m. local time to his wife and children, are said to have been:

The news of the Ayatollah”s death was announced to the public via radio announcements at 5:30 a.m. on June 4, 1989. The state funeral spiraled out of control, with millions trying to reach the coffin, reportedly injuring 11,000 people and crushing dozens to death. As mourners tugged at the shroud, the body fell to the ground. By helicopter, the body was then flown from downtown Tehran to Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery. For days after his death, thousands were still counted at the grave. Because it was feared that mourners might take soil from the grave site and, with the crowds, expose the body, the grave site was sealed off with containers and guarded by soldiers. The Khomeini Mausoleum was later built on this site. The mausoleum is located outside the Tehran Central Cemetery on a confiscated plot of land that had previously belonged to General Iraj Matbooie”s family. General Matbooie had violently dispersed a demonstration in Mashhad against the newly enacted ban on the chador in 1935 during the reign of Reza Shah. In 1979, shortly after Khomeini”s return to Iran, General Matbooie, who was over 80 years old, was arrested 44 years after this incident, sentenced to death and executed.

One day after Khomeini”s death, on June 4, 1989, his former disciple, then President Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamene”i, was unexpectedly elected Supreme Jurist by the Council of Experts with the votes of 60 of the 70 mullahs present. Khomeini had presumably made the succession arrangements long ago, since Akbar Hāschemi Rafsanjāni, who had acted as Khomeini”s “right-hand man” in recent months, would also have been available for the post.


translated into European languages:


  1. Ruhollah Chomeini
  2. Ruhollah Khomeini
  3. ^ Khomeini, Ruhollah (1981). Islam and Revolution: Writing and Declarations of Imam Khomeini. Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar. Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press. p. 172. Prior to the International Time Zone system, every locality had its own time with 12 noon set to match the moment in that city when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. This was natural for an era when travel was relatively slow and infrequent but would have played havoc with railway timetables and general modern long-distance communications. In the decades after 1880 governments around the world replaced local time with 24 international time zones, each covering 15 degrees of the earth”s longitude (with some exceptions for political boundaries.
  4. Ruhollah Khomeini
  5. Ruhollah Khomeini
  6. Dass Chomeini ein Vermögen von seinem Vater Mustafa Musavi vererbt bekam, wird von Ali Tehrani bestätigt. Siehe „Wer nicht kämpft, wird erschossen“. In: Der Spiegel. Nr. 23, 1984 (online).
  7. Ruhollah Khomeini
  8. Ruhollah Khomeini
  9. Ruhollah Khomeini
  10. «Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Biography». Consultado em 10 de Setembro de 2018
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