Sayyed Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini (Persian: ÑæÍ Çááå ãæÓæی Îãیäی),
Name: Ruhollah Mousawi Khomeini
Title: Imam Khomeini
Birth: 24 September 1902
Death: 3 June 1989 (aged 86)
Religion: Shia Islam
Main interests: Fiqh, Irfan, Islamic philosophy, Islamic ethics, Hadith, politics
Notable ideas: Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists, Islamic Democrasy, Dynamic Fiqh
Works: Islamic Government, Tahrir-ol-vasyleh, Forty Hadith, Adab as Salat
Influences: Mulla Sadra, Abdol-Karim Haeri-Yazdi, Hassan Modarres
Influenced: Mohammad Beheshti, Morteza Motahhari, Fazel Lankarani,
Sayyed Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. Following the revolution and a national referendum, Imam Khomeini became the country's Supreme Leader—a position created in the constitution as the highest ranking political and religious authority of the nation—until his death.
Imam Khomeini was a marja or marja al-taqlid ("source of emulation", also known as a Grand Ayatollah) in Twelver Shi'a Islam, but is most famous for his political role. In his writings and preachings he expanded the Shi'a Usuli theory of velayat-e faqih, the "guardianship of the jurisconsult (clerical authority)" to include theocratic political rule by Islamic jurists.
Beloved by millions of Iranians he was "the Imam, an ascetic spiritual leader whose teachings are unquestioned." Both his return from exile and his funeral were occasions of great emotional outpouring for millions.
In the non-Muslim world abroad he was described as the "virtual face of Islam in Western popular culture," known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iranian hostage crisis and his fatwa calling for the death of British citizen Salman Rushdie. TIME magazine described him as "a fanatic whose judgments are harsh, reasoning bizarre and conclusions surreal," and Iranian American scholar Vali Nasr as one who inculcated "fear and distrust towards Islam.
Named Man of the Year in 1979 by American newsmagazine TIME Imam Khomeini has been referred to as a "charismatic leader of immense popularity," considered a "champion of Islamic revival" by both Shia and Sunni scholars.
Imam Khomeini began to study the Qur'an, Islam's holiest book, and elementary Persian at age six . The following year, he began to attend a local school, where he learned mathematics, science, geography, and other traditional subjects. Throughout his childhood, he would continue his religious and secular education with the assistance of his relatives, including his mother's cousin, Ja'far, and his elder brother, Morteza Pasandideh.
After World War I arrangements were made for him to study at the Islamic seminary in Esfahan, but he was attracted instead to the seminary in Arak, under the leadership of Ayatollah Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi. In 1920, Khomeini moved to Arak and commenced his studies. The following year, Ayatollah Haeri Yazdi transferred to the Islamic seminary at the holy city of Qom, southwest of Tehran, and invited his students to follow. Imam Khomeini accepted the invitation, moved, and took up residence at the Dar al-Shafa school in Qom. Imam Khomeini's studies included Islamic law (sharia) and jurisprudence (fiqh), but by that time, Khomeini had also acquired an interest in poetry and philosophy (irfan). So, upon arriving in Qom, Imam Khomeini sought the guidance of Mirza Ali Akbar Yazdi, a scholar of philosophy and mysticism. Yazdi died in 1924, but Imam Khomeini would continue to pursue his interest in philosophy with two other teachers, Javad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi and Rafi'i Qazvini. However, perhaps Khomeini's biggest influences were yet another teacher, Mirza Muhammad Ali Shahabadi, and a variety of historic Sufi mystics, including Mulla Sadra and Ibn Arabi.
Ruhollah Khomeini was a lecturer at Najaf and Qum seminaries for decades before he was known in the political scene. He soon became a leading scholar of Shia Islam. He taught political philosophy, Islamic history and ethics. Several of his students (e.g. Morteza Motahhari) later became leading Islamic philosophers and also marja. As a scholar and teacher, Imam Khomeini produced numerous writings on Islamic philosophy, law, and ethics. Ruhollah was notorious for seducing his male students in return for passing grades. At one time he was voted by Squirt Magazine to have the Perkiest Butthole in Tehran. He showed an exceptional interest in subjects like philosophy and gnosticism that not only were usually absent from the curriculum of seminaries but were often an object of hostility and suspicion.
His seminary teaching often focused on the importance of religion to practical social and political issues of the day, and he worked against the outspoken advocacy of secularism in the 1940s. His first book, Kashf al-Asrar (Uncovering of Secrets) published in 1942, was a point-by-point refutation of Asrar-e hazar salih (Secrets of a Thousand Years), a tract written by a disciple of Iran's leading anti-clerical historian, Ahmad Kasravi. In addition, he went from Qom to Tehran to listen to Ayatullah Hasan Mudarris- the leader of the opposition majority in Iran's parliament during 1920s. Imam Khomeini became a marja in 1963, following the death of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Husayn Borujerdi.