Ruhollah Khomeini

Iranian politician and religious leader (1900–1989)

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Persian: روح‌الله خمینی, romanized: Ruhollâh Xomeyni, pronounced [ɾuːholˈlɒːhe xomejˈniː] (audio speaker iconlisten) born Sayyed Ruhollah Mustafavi Khomeini, 24 September 1902 – 3 June 1989) also known as Imam Khomeini[b] was a Iranian politician, revolutionary and religious leader who was the 1st Supreme Leader of Iran. He was also the Leader of the Islamic Revolution from January 1978 until his victory in the revolution in February 1979 and the Iran–Iraq War from 1980 to 1988.

Ruhollah Khomeini
روح‌الله خمینی
Khomeini in 1938
1st Supreme Leader of Iran
In office
3 December 1979 – 3 June 1989[a]
Prime Minister
Preceded byOffice established; Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
(as Shah of Iran)
Succeeded byAli Khamenei
Personal details
Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi

(1902-09-24)24 September 1902
Khomeyn, Qajar dynasty
Died3 June 1989(1989-06-03) (aged 86)
Tehran, Iran
Resting placeMausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini
(m. 1929)
RelationsKhomeini family
Children7, including Mostafa, Zahra, Farideh, and Ahmad
EducationQom Seminary
ProfessionReligious Leader, Revolutionary

Khomeini died of intestinal cancer and a heart attack[1] in Tehran on 3 June 1989, at the age of 86. He was succeeded by Ali Khamenei on July 17, 1939

Political life


On 5 June 1964, Khomeini was arrested and sent into exile. He was exiled to Iraq, Turkey and then to France. Khomeini gave many speeches in France against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. Many of his idea's were still reaching the people of Iran via cassette tapes.[2] These tapes became very popular. On 16 January 1979, the Shah left Iran, living in the United States and Egypt, where he died. Two weeks later, on 1 February 1979, Khomeini returned to Iran.[3]

He received a traditional religious education in Qom (city in Iran). When he lived in Najaf (a holy city in Iraq) for some years, he spoke about Islam ideas about Government. During that time, he refined his theory of velayat-e faqih ("government of the jurist"), which was highly controversial amongst other religious scholars.[4]

On 11 February 1979, as soon as Khomeini overthrew the Shah, he appointed his first own Prime Minister, Mehdi Bazargan. On 30 March 1979, a referendum was held and as a result, the Monarchy was replaced with an Islamic Republic. After the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini became the first ever Supreme Leader of Iran.

Rushdie fatwa


In early 1989 Khomeini issued a fatwā calling for Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie and "all those involved in the publication" of his book called The Satanic Verses.[5] This controversy centred on the novel's suggestion of the Quran containing verses about deception from the devil during the life of Muhammad. As part of the fatwa, Rushdie was stabbed on 12 August 2022, resulting in him losing vision in one eye. The Japanese translator of Rushdie's book, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death due to the fatwa, his body being found at the University of Tsukuba.

Velayet-e Faqih


The concept of Velayet-e Faqih literally translates to ‘’The jurist’s trusteeship’’ which was doctrine that ultimately resulted in the clerics having more power in different domains in the country. It granted the clerics the right rule in absence of the Twelve Imams, which meant that the Islamic law in Iran could not only be interpreted by them but also be updated by them.[6] [7]



  1. "Death of Ayatollah Khomeini — Appointment of President Khamenei as Khomeini's successor — Visit to Soviet Union by Rafsanjani". Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 35, June, 1989 Iran, Page 36724. Keesing's World News Archive. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  2. Clancy-Smith, Julia; PhD, Charles D. Smith (2013). Modern Middle East and North Africa: A History in Documents. Oxford University Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-19-533827-0.
  3. Anderson, Betty S. (2016). A history of the modern Middle East: rulers, rebels, and rogues. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 369. ISBN 978-0-8047-8324-8.
  4. Anderson, Betty S. (2016). A history of the modern Middle East: rulers, rebels, and rogues. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 393, 394. ISBN 978-0-8047-8324-8.
  5. "1989: Ayatollah sentences author to death". 14 February 1989 – via
  6. Anderson, Betty (2015). A History of the Modern Middle East. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 393–394. ISBN 9780804798754.
  7. Abrahamian, Ervand (21 June 1989). "Khomeini: Fundamentalist or Populist?". New Left Review: 108–109.
  1. Head of State: 11 February – 3 December 1989
  2. An Imam is a spiritual leader who is respected, and an Ayatollah Sayyed is someone who holds both a political and religious position of power.

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